No. 4 Baylor men’s basketball handles business in 45-point win

Senior forward Flo Thamba dunks during a game against the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 4 in the Ferrell Center. Matt Ellett | Photographer

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

No. 4 Baylor men’s basketball took care of business in a 45-point win over the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Bears moved to 8-0 on the season after Saturday’s 99-54 win.

Baylor’s depth showed tonight as five players scored in double figures. Baylor’s bench scored 59 points during the blowout. The Bears’ defense forced 18 turnovers and helped the team control the pace for the entire game as they held the Golden Lions to 3-25 from three.

“Our guys did a good job in executing,” head coach Scott Drew said. “After being off for a number of days, now it gives us a good week to prepare and get ready for Villanova.”

Sophomore guard LJ Cryer led all scorers, piling in 20 points on 50% shooting. Junior forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua recorded a double-double, 14 points [career-high] and 13 rebounds and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. Senior forward Matthew Mayer had a solid outing, with 14 points and seven rebounds, shooting 80% from beyond the arc. Freshman forwards Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan recorded 11 and 12 points, respectively.

In the first half, Baylor’s offense looked spotty. The Bears shot only 41.7% on field goal attempts and also turned the ball over eight times. Cryer said the Golden Lions’ unique play of emphasizing getting back on defense was something Baylor had to adjust to as they typically like to get out and run in the fast break. He said it was good for the team to work on adjusting to teams that play this way in transition.

“We had noticed nobody was rebounding,” Cryer said. “We would get a rebound and were looking to push and we noticed everybody was back already. Credit to them, they got back fast and that was weird. We had to work on our half-court offense the whole game today, that will help us for games where we have to slow it down for other teams that get back fast. Today helped us overall.”

However, the Bears were able to rely on their remarkable defense which has been consistently dominant all season. After a layup from Brown put Baylor up double-digits five minutes into the game, they never let UAPB back into it.

The Bears got hot towards the end of the half, as an 11-0 run propelled them to a 38-15 edge with four minutes left in the half. Baylor carried that momentum to a 44-21 halftime lead.

In the second half, Baylor picked up right where they left off in the first. A five-point scoring streak from Brown only increased the momentum that already favored the Bears. They shot 62.5% from the field in the half, and their efficiency on defense allowed them to cruise to a routine win.

No. 4 Baylor could potentially move into the top three after No. 1 Duke University loss to unranked Ohio State University. Baylor has a week off ahead of their next matchup against No. 6 Villanova (6-2) at 2 p.m. on Dec. 12 in the Ferrell Center.