No. 15 Baylor will continue to call on its considerable depth to help build on a season-opening three-game winning streak when it faces Kansas City on Tuesday night in a battle of unbeaten teams in Waco, Texas.
Tuesday’s contest will be the fourth in eight days for the Bears (3-0), who most recently had their hands full in dispatching Gardner-Webb 77-62 on Sunday afternoon. Ja’Kobe Walter hit for 14 points to lead the Bears, while fellow freshman Yves Missi added 11 and a career-high five blocks.
Baylor went 0-for-9 from beyond the arc, the first time it didn’t hit a 3-pointer in a contest in 33 years, a span of 1,032 games.
“We could have shot another 10 threes (Sunday) and maybe we weren’t going to make any of them,” Bears coach Scott Drew said. “Their legs were dead. And it’s a tough way to start playing so many games in a row like we’re doing. I thought that shows the intelligence of this team that we just shot nine and emphasized playing in the paint, where we were really good.”
Jayden Nunn added 12 points for the Bears, with Langston Love scoring 11 and Josh Ojianwuna hitting for 10.
Baylor trailed by three points 4:39 into the second half before rallying behind its defense and the hot hand of RayJ Dennis. Dennis had five straight points for the Bears during a 12-2 run over the ensuing six-plus minutes that put Baylor up 57-50 with 9:02 to play. The Runnin’ Bulldogs missed 11 of their 12 shots in that pivotal stretch.
“We knew when we came out that Gardner-Webb was gonna be a tough opponent — we watched their film, they play real hard,” Love said. “We just had to fight to the end to get this win and just stick to our habits and stick to the plan.”
The Bears did not have a double-digit lead until the 7:17 mark of the second half but were able to hold off Gardner-Webb with their depth.
“First and foremost, you got to be ready whenever your number is called,” Drew said. “And we have great depth and we feel comfortable and confident with all our guys. We have another quick turnaround, but we will be ready.”
Kansas City (2-0), which plays in the Summit League, heads to Waco after two home wins to start the season, including a 95-42 victory over Saint Mary on Saturday. The Roos dominated the game from the jump, shooting 64.7 percent from the floor and hitting eight 3-pointers in the first half while building a 57-29 lead by the break.
Jamar Brown led Kansas City with 18 points in Saturday’s win. Allen David Mukeba Jr. added 13 points, Anderson Kopp scored 12 and Melvyn Ebonkoli hit for 10. The Roos forced 26 turnovers and nabbed 14 steals against Saint Mary.
“We learned a lot about ourselves about how we can play when we’re engaged and when we are consistent about it,” Kansas City coach Marvin Menzies said. “That will be the goal, but we showed some really nice flashes, both defensively and offensively against Saint Mary.”
–Field Level Media
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