By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer, Video by Joe Pratt | Broadcast Reporter
No. 4 Baylor men’s basketball cruised to a 74-49 win over Kansas State University (10-9, 2-6 Big 12) to expand their win streak to three games.
The Bears (18-2, 6-2 Big 12) held their opponent under 50 points for the fourth time this season. Baylor also forced 12 turnovers, the 19th time the team has accomplished that feat in 20 games this season. Baylor shot 56.9% from the field and assisted on 21 of its 29 total made field goals.
Head coach Scott Drew said he was happy with the way the team played and executed on defense, attributing their team play to having good depth.
“Our defense has been ticking up on the uptick,” Drew said. “We’ve been doing a good job of addressing some fundamentals we kind of relapsed on. Fatigue makes a coward of us all; When you get depth, it helps you.”
Despite missing senior guard James Akinjo after he re-injured his tail bone in their last game, the Bears welcomed freshman forward Jermey Sochan back into the lineup. Sochan was praised by the entire Ferrell Center with a standing ovation as he checked into the game. Freshman forward Kendall Brown said it’s great to have Sochan back because of how much he contributes.
“It’s great to have him [Sochan] back,” Brown said. “He’s a great player and when he comes on the court he just does everything so well. Him coming back was a great feeling.”
Sophomore guard LJ Cryer led the way with 14 points, followed closely by junior guard Adam Flagler with 13 points and five assists. Brown and junior forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua both contributed double-doubles, Brown with 10 points and 11 rebounds, Tchamwa Tchatchoua finishing with 13 points and 12 boards.
Junior guard Dale Bonner has found himself firmly in rotation since Akinjo has been in and out battling injuries, and is starting to find his groove as he scored seven points along with five dimes. Bonner credited his recent success to the coaching staff and his teammates.
“Kudos to the coaching staff and my teammates for believing in me,” Bonner said. “I just got to go out there and play with confidence every time I get on the floor.”
The Bears looked strong in the first half of the game. After the Wildcats opened up with a three, Baylor woke up quickly to go on a 15-2 run, taking a 15-5 lead. As play continued, Baylor hit back-to-back threes, followed by an elusive euro-step from Brown to convert a fastbreak layup, getting the crowd to erupt into cheer and moving the Bears to a 26-11 lead.
With six minutes left in the half, Kansas State sophomore guard Selton Miguel finished a dunk over the top of Brown, and received a technical foul for taunting him afterward. In response, senior forward Matthew Mayer converted on a poster dunk of his own, also receiving a technical, but the play ignited the crowd once again. Baylor went on to hit eight straight field goal attempts to end the half with a 39-21 advantage.
At the break, Flagler and Cryer led the team with nine and eight points, respectively. Tchamwa Tchatchoua had six points and commanded the glass with eight rebounds. The Bears scored efficiently, shooting 51.9% from the floor and assisting on 12 of their 14 first-half field goals. On the defensive end of the floor, the Bears forced eight turnovers and held the Wildcats to just 26.9% shooting and 15.4% from beyond the arc.
The Bears started off the second half slow. In the first five minutes of play they scored only three points and totaled four turnovers. They then flipped the switch with a 7-0 run to get back on track. Cryer drove to the basket hard and converted an and-1 to push the Baylor lead back to over 20 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game. A few minutes after, Tchamwa Tchatchoua knocked down a rare three pointer to the delight of the Bear fans as Baylor finished with a 25-point win, 74-49.
Up next, the Bears travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face off against the University of Alabama at 3 p.m. on Saturday in the Coleman Coliseum.