WACO, Texas — The seventh Baylor was doing well after finally settling back home after a weekend in Las Vegas.
True freshman Keyonte George had 17 points and Adam Flagler added 13 with nine assists as the Bears helped each other while retiring to an 89-60 win after falling behind against McNeese State early Wednesday.
“In the first half I didn’t know if we had come back from Vegas or not. I thought McNeese really had a great intensity and a great game plan,” said Bears coach Scott Drew. “In the second half I thought we did a lot better defensively and got our way. It leaves a much better taste in your mouth when you go to Thanksgiving.”
LJ Cryer had 16 points for the Bears (5-1) to chasing three straight 20-point games that earned him Big 12 Player of the Week honors. Three days after a career-high 28 points in a win over then-No. 8 UCLA, Cryer had two 3-pointers and a jumper to put the Bears to a quick 10-2 lead.
The Bears had 30 assists on 34 field goals made while shooting 56.7% (34 of 60). Dale Bonner had 12 assists with seven points. Langston Love scored 11 points.
Jonathan Massie and Zach Scott each had 12 points for McNeese State (2-4). All of Scott’s points came on four 3-pointers.
After McNeese had a 12-0 run that saw Massie and Scott each hit two 3s in a little over two-minute span, Bridges slam dunk on a pass from Flagler to break the final tie of the game. That put Baylor at 21-19 by 8 1/2 minutes in the first half before George 3 came out of a time-out after one of McNeese’s 21 turnovers.
“They had us in rotations. We had some people in the wrong places,” Cryer said. “They put on uncontested shots so we just made it a point to contest it.”
After making 10 of their first 17 shots, the Cowboys were down to 10 of 35 for the rest of the game.
“In the second half we were much better than in the first half. They were going 30 and 30 (every half) but the percentages were just way better and a faster pace too,” Drew said. “So we’re a lot more locked in.”
George had an interesting stretch late in the first half that started with his miss on Caleb Lohner on the edge. But after McNeese missed three shots on the ensuing possession, these two Bears executed the alley-oop, with George’s precise pass to Lohner across the baseline for a powerful dunk. George then added a three-point play, a layup when he was fouled before the free throw made it 35-28.
“One mistake can’t lead to the next, so just forget that game and move on to the next possession,” said George. “I see him on the lobs all the time. He trusts me to make that pass and I trust him to catch it.”
TRIO OF 3s
After playing 2-10 against UCLA on Sunday, George was just 3-of-10 against McNeese before hitting three consecutive 3-pointers in a span of 1 minute and 49 seconds late.
McNeese State: The Cowboys had not played a ranked team in almost four years since losing 90-77 in the No. 22 state on Dec. 4, 2018. Baylor, who has won all four games in the series, was the first of three top 25 opponents they will face before Christmas. They play No. 22 Tennessee next Wednesday and then go to second-placed Houston on Dec. 21.
Baylor: While Baylor was far from his crispest game, he had too much depth and talent for the entire 40 minutes against McNeese. The Bears had missed seven of 10 free throws after Bridges had two missed throws with just under 15 minutes to go as they led just 45-34. They finished 9 of 17 on free throws and only had a 33-32 rebound edge.
McNeese State plays Monday night at UT Martin.
Baylor is in Marquette Tuesday night, three days before he plays sixth-seeded Gonzaga in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
AP College Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and