WACO, Texas (AP) — True freshman Keyonte George scored 17 points, Adam Flagler added 13 with nine assists and seventh-ranked Baylor retired for an 89-60 win from McNeese State on Wednesday.
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 and shot 56.7 percent (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.
Jalen Bridges slam dunk on a pass from Flagler to break the final tie of the game, giving Baylor a 21-19 lead with 8 1/2 minutes left in the first half. After a bad pass from McNeese, George hit a 3-pointer from a time-out.
George had an interesting stretch later 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.
McNeese had taken a 14-10 lead after scoring 12 straight points. Massie and Scott each had two 3-pointers in a span of just over two minutes. Those alternating 3s were part of five straight shots from McNeese before the Bears, who missed six of seven shots in the same span, responded with a 16-3 run to finally lead.
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 have been sloppy at times as they have back-to-back games against top-25 teams over the weekend in Las Vegas. Baylor had missed seven of 10 free throws after Bridges missed two shots with just under 15 minutes to go when Baylor’s lead was 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 in the second of three straight away games. The Cowboys are playing eight of their last ten games of the calendar year away from home.
Baylor is in Marquette Tuesday night, three days before he plays sixth-seeded Gonzaga in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.