After an up-and-down start to the season, Baylor took a victory in one of its final games before conference play with a dominating 79-64 win over BYU.
All five Baylor players finished the night with double digits points as they rallied from a big deficit to come back against BYU. Two players recorded double-doubles on the night – forward Cory Jefferson (13 points and 16 rebounds) and center Isaiah Austin (14 points and 10 rebounds) – while point guard Pierre Jackson recorded 16 points and nine assists.
“We played on of our (best), if not our best, team game,” Baylor head coach Scot Drew said. “Everybody that came in contributed. The first seven to eight minutes of the game, I think we got all the turnovers, bad defense, all that stuff, out of the way. And then I think we played really well.”
The Bears trailed by as many as 11 points in the first seven and half minutes of the game, but were able to take control with a 21-2 run over the final seven and a half minutes of the first half.
BYU led 19-8 with just under 13 minutes left in the first half after consecutive baskets by forward Nate Austin. After two successful free throws by guard Gary Franklin, Baylor went on a game-turning run started by Austin with a three-pointer. Jackson had five free throws and recorded an assist on a three-pointer by Franklin to close out the half with a 40-31 lead.
“There are a lot of learning issues for our team and for our staff,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “We had some guys on the bench. We responded a little bit different. We took them out like we normally do when they get a couple of fouls, and then we put them back in…Obviously that was a huge difference in the game. We got in at halftime down nine. It was quite a run.”
BYU cut Baylor’s lead to 49-39 on two free throws by forward Brandon Davies with under 17 minutes left to play, but the Cougars never got any closer.
The Bears went on another run, this one sparked by a three-pointer by Jackson, which allowed Baylor to outscore BYU 16-6, put the Bears back up by 20, and eventually close out the game with a 15-point win.
Baylor shot 45 percent from the field while holding BYU to a 38.7 shooting percentage. Baylor also out-rebounded the Cougars and gave up fewer turnovers while shooting 50 percent from the three.
As the young players seem to be grasping and embracing their positions on the team, they are now performing the best they have all season. But no doubt, the best teacher has been watching the veterans on the team.
“We didn’t panic, and we didn’t start taking bad shots and trying to get it all back,” Drew said. “It all starts at the point and Pierre, I thought, was really good defensively and was able to pressure. Our bigs did a good job.” -- Savannah Pullin