O'Neale helps No. 22 Baylor rout Norfolk State 92-51
WACO, Texas (AP) The only thing that could slow Royce O'Neale in Baylor's game on Tuesday was his own coach.
O'Neale scored 15 points in a 23-2 run to open the second half, and Baylor coach Scott Drew pulled him and other starters from the game with 12:28 remaining.
''Everybody was looking to him, he was shooting with confidence and he wasn't forcing shots, taking bad shots,'' Drew said. ''That's why he was 7-for-9. The only person who stopped Royce tonight was me by taking him out, so he was outstanding.''
O'Neale finished with a career-best 23 points in leading No. 22 Baylor past Norfolk State 92-51.
Rico Gathers added 13 points and 11 rebounds for Baylor (11-1). Taurean Prince and Al Freeman scored 13 each.
Jeff Short had 23 points and D'Shon Taylor scored 11 for Norfolk State (9-6). RaShid Gaston had 10 rebounds and six points.
''I hit one, and they said they were going to keep coming back to me,'' O'Neale said. ''I just felt it, so I was letting them go and they were dropping.''
O'Neale had a 3 to open the second-half scoring, and then with Baylor holding a 40-29 lead, he took over. After a dunk by Gathers and one free throw by Johnathan Motley, O'Neale hit 3s on Baylor's next four possessions. After Lester Medford converted a 3-point play, the Bears led 55-29 with 14:41 left in the game and the game was effectively over.
O'Neale scored five consecutive points as Baylor took an early 12-8 lead. From there, Norfolk went on an 11-2 run - spurred by 3s from Taylor and Short - and took a 19-14 lead with 11:31 to play, prompting Drew to call a timeout.
On the Bears' next possession, Motley was called for an offensive foul as he was starting a short drive to the basket. After that, however, Baylor went on an 11-2 run of its own to take the lead back, 25-21, at the 5:50 mark. O'Neale hit a 3 and Prince converted a three-point play during the stint.
Prince hit a 3 in front of the Norfolk bench at the buzzer to give Baylor a 32-27 halftime lead.
The game was Baylor's first since a 70-66 win over Southern on Dec. 22, and Gathers said it took the Bears a little time to shake off the rust.
''Probably the first five minutes of the first half,'' Gathers said, ''but once the first half was over with we came out in the second half with a new mentality. We basically just dominated, starting with (O'Neale) getting the ball up shooting 3s, and he did a good job.''
Norfolk State coach Robert Jones said his team didn't do a good job in handling O'Neale.
''We did a poor job of getting out to him and identifying him,'' Jones said. ''We were pressuring, trying to get back in the game. After our rotations on the press, (O'Neale) was open in the corner a little bit and we didn't rotate back properly like we're supposed to and he got some wide-open shots.''
Baylor: Baylor and Virginia are the only two teams in the country to hold all of their opponents to 66 or fewer points.
Norfolk State: The Spartans are coming off three consecutive wins: 88-49 over Virginia-Wise; 81-62 over Northern Arizona; and a 74-71 overtime decision at James Madison. James Short scored 30 in the win over James Madison.
Norfolk State plays at Georgia on Saturday.
Baylor opens Big 12 play Saturday at Oklahoma.
IT'S A YOUNGSTER'S GAME
Baylor redshirt freshman Johnathan Motley was named the Big 12's Newcomer of the Week on Monday after scoring 57 points in the Bears' last three games. In his eight previous games, Motley had scored 53. He had 7 points and 7 rebounds against Norfolk State.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Norfolk State is in the midst of a six-game road swing that lasts from Dec. 22 to Jan. 12. Besides Baylor, the Spartans also face on the road non-conference opponents Georgia and Princeton before their first two MEAC games, at Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman.
HOT SHOOTING HAND
The Spartans are shooting 46 percent from the field for the season, the best performance since hitting 48 percent in the 1998-99 season.