Freeman helps Baylor break away for win over Texas Southern
WACO, Texas (AP) Next stop for Baylor is the Big 12 opener at No. 2 Kansas, the perineal conference champion.
The Bears will certainly have to play better than they did in their last game before facing the Jayhawks. They finally took control midway through the second half in a 72-59 victory over Texas Southern on Tuesday.
''One of the things Coach told us was not to get frustrated if it was a close game,'' Baylor's Al Freeman said. ''Don't go into the game just expecting to blow these guys out, because they've got shotmakers and they play hard. ... We just wanted to play hard and take it possession by possession, stop by stop.''
Freeman scored 21 points, and ignited a key 10-0 run for the Bears (10-2) midway through the second half.
Baylor led 44-40 before Freeman made a layup and then hit a 3-pointer. By the time Johnathan Motley made a short jumper for his only points of the game and Lester Medford made a 3, it was 54-40 with 11:11 left.
Rico Gathers had 11 points and 10 rebounds for his 30th career double-double for Baylor, which goes to Lawrence, Kansas, on Saturday. Terry Maston had 14 points and Medford added 12.
''Your non-conference schedule, you want to put yourself in position to achieve all your goals. And I think we've done that,'' Bears coach Scott Drew said. ''We don't have any bad losses. We have a good win (Vanderbilt). So tournament resume-wise, we'll have a good RPI from it. Now you're on to the toughest conference in the country.''
Malcolm Riley scored 18 points for Texas Southern (1-11).
The Tigers were within 33-32 with 2 minutes left in the first half after consecutive 3s by Brian Carey and Jose Rodriguez. But they never went ahead and trailed 40-35 after Baylor closed the half with a 7-3 spurt.
''I liked our effort. We talked about giving a great effort to get ready for our conference play,'' Texas Southern coach Mike Davis said. ''I'll take this loss on me because we've been working so hard on zone offense on the Christmas break because we knew we played Syracuse and Baylor. ... When (Baylor) went to the man, it changed the rhythm of the game. We weren't sure, we weren't patient. I want to see us get better.''
Derrick Griffin, Texas Southern's leading scorer at 17 points a game, picked up his third foul and went to the bench for the rest of the first half less than 8 minutes into the game. He finished with three points and three rebounds in 25 minutes, including all 20 minutes after halftime.
BOWLING BEARS: Tipoff was moved up two hours to 2 p.m. local time from its scheduled start because the Baylor football team played its bowl game Tuesday. The Bears kicked off in the Russell Athletic Bowl against North Carolina in Orlando, Florida, only a few minutes after the basketball game ended. The announced attendance was 5,223.
UNEXPECTED BREAK: Hampton announced Tuesday that its scheduled game at Texas Southern set for Thursday had been canceled. No reason was provided in the release, though travel issues are a possibility. That was supposed to be the Tigers' first home game.
DISH IT OUT: Baylor leads the nation in assists with 22.6 a game. The Bears recorded 23 assists on 26 field goals against Texas Southern
Texas Southern: Davis was head coach at Indiana, with a 115-79 record from 2000-06. His Hoosiers lost to Maryland 64-52 in the 2002 national championship game. ... The Tigers are 0-9 all-time against Baylor, which is 50-0 vs. SWAC teams.
Baylor: Taurean Prince, who came into the game as Baylor's leading scorer at 16.4 points per game, was held to 6 points on 2-of-12 shooting. But Prince had six rebounds and six assists. ... The Bears have won 33 consecutive non-conference home games since a loss to Northwestern on Dec. 4, 2012.
Texas Southern: hosts Southern University in its SWAC opener Saturday.
Baylor: at No. 2 Kansas on Saturday.