By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
The No. 5 Baylor men’s basketball team cruised by the University of Northern Colorado 95-62 Monday evening in the Ferrell Center for head coach Scott Drew’s 400th win at Baylor. Drew, the reigning three-time Big 12 Coach of the Year, became just the 10th active coach to reach this accomplishment.
“I’ve been very blessed,” Drew said. “God has given us great players, great coaches, great administration and when they say 400, that’s a team honor … [At the start of my Baylor career,] I wasn’t thinking about 400. We were just trying to get a full team of scholarship guys to compete.”
Redshirt senior guard Adam Flagler said, “it’s really amazing to be a part of something so special.”
“The way [Coach Drew] uses his platform to glorify God and everything he does; he’s taken this culture and made it so special to where everybody knows about it, I’m just glad to be a part of it,” Flagler said.
The Bears (3-0) had six players in double-figures for the second time this season, led by junior guard LJ Cryer who scored his season-high 20 points including four threes. Flagler and redshirt senior guard Dale Bonner finished with 13 points and 12 points, respectively. Flagler piled in a team-high 10 assists, while Bonner racked up six steals causing chaos on the defensive end. Junior forward Jalen Bridges finished with 15 points, his third-straight double-digit contest. Freshman guard Keyonte George put in another all-around performance with 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Baylor wasted no time getting on the board as fifth-year senior forward Flo Thamba was able to get an easy dunk off the dish from George. UNC was able to take an early 5-2 lead, but the Bears quickly responded with a 13-0 run that included five takeaways that helped them jump back ahead. Eight of these points came from Flagler alone, which allowed Baylor to take control of the game early on.
Midway through the half, Bonner put his own stamp on the game, as he came up with three steals and scored on three-consecutive Baylor possessions. At this point, the Bears were rolling on both ends of the floor, hitting seemingly every shot and stacking multiple defensive stops.
With just over six minutes left to play in the first, UNC went on a 7-0 run in just 45 seconds in an attempt to scrap its way back into the game, cutting its deficit to 10 at 30-20. Baylor again responded with a 7-0 run to retake momentum and increased its lead. Riding this momentum, the Bears went into halftime with a 44-26 lead.
At the break, Flagler led with 11 points to go along with three assists. Bonner had six points, three rebounds and four steals. In the first period, Baylor shot 51.5% from the field and 37.5% from beyond the arc. On the defensive end, it forced 14 turnovers which led to 14 points for the Bears.
Neither team began the second half shooting the ball well, but the Bears got good looks inside and were able to convert in the paint to keep things moving. Despite being up big, Baylor never stopped hustling, diving for loose balls and sprinting back on defense for transition blocks. Bonner set the example for this with multiple steals in single sequences, throwing his body all around the court and winning the 50-50 plays for Baylor. This combined with its suffocating defense helped the Bears go on a 21-1 run to push their advantage to 74-39 midway through the second half. Never looking back, Baylor continued to fire on all cylinders on both ends of the floor on its way to its 33-point victory.
Up next, the Bears travel to Las Vegas for a ranked matchup against No. 16 University of Virginia. This game, scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, is the first of the Continental Tire Main Event tournament.