The second-ranked Baylor Bears nailed 13 three-pointers and had five players in double figures on Tuesday afternoon in a 93-56 victory over the University of Central Bears at the Ferrell Center in UCA’s final non-conference tuneup.
Baylor (7-0) continued its hot hand from the perimeter against UCA, making at least 13 threes in all three meetings with the purple Bears over the past four seasons, including 18 last year. UCA (1-7) kept pace from the three-point line, making 12 of 26 (46.2 percent) but shot just 35 percent overall.
UCA. playing its fourth Power 5 team of the season, was shorthanded Tuesday, playing without two starters, senior guard Rylan Bergersen and sophomore forward Khaleem Bennett, who were at home battling illness. Bergersen is UCA’s leading scorer both this season and last.
Sophomore point guard DeAndre Jones kept the Bears within striking distance in the first half with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists, while hitting 5 of 8 from three-point range. As a team UCA was 8 of 15 from beyond the arc, but Baylor made 10 of 18 threes which led to a 53-35 halftime advantage. Jones finished with a team-high 19 points and made 6 of 9 from three-point range, the most by a Bear since Jones had six against Nicholls on Jan. 18, 2020.
“We certainly missed Khaleem and Rylan,” said UCA head coach Anthony Boone. “But the guys that were here, they banded together. We told them, all-out effort. We have to be who we are, it doesn’t matter the circumstances. We can’t let it be because we’re playing Baylor and they’re No.2 in the country – and I think they have a good chance at making a run at the national championship – or whoever it is we’re playing, or we have guys not with us.
“Whatever the situation is, we have to do what we do, we have to be who we are. And for the most part our guys did that. I was pleased with our effort and their fight. It would have been easy to just come in here and lay an egg from the beginning. And our guys really fought, especially the first half.”
The Big 12 Bears, who finished 26-4 overall and 14-1 at home a year ago, pulled away from UCA in the second half. Baylor shot 55.9 percent from the field in the first half and an even 50 percent for the game. MaCio Teague led the Baers with 20 points, while All-American Jared Butler had 17 points and Jonathan Tchatchpoua had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Baylor entered the game leading the nation in three-point shooting at 47.3 percent and went 13 of 30 for the game, with seven different players making at least one.
“They played like we expected them to,” said Boone. “We played pretty good defense, but when they’re open, we help on drives and they kick it out. And those guys knock them down. They’re a really good shooting team. And I think we shot the ball pretty good from outside, too. But it’s just they had the size also to go with it to get some of the points in the paint that they got, and we couldn’t finish some of our opportunities.”
Baylor outscored UCA 40-14 on points in the paint but UCA managed to keep the rebounding margin close as the home team won that matchup 43-35. UCA also turned the ball over 24 times, which led to 31 Baylor points.
The Bears will open Southland Conference play at McNeese at 4 p.m. Saturday in Lake Charles, La., then return home to host New Orleans on Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Farris Center.