Austin and the Bears escaped a poor first half performance to beat USC Upstate 73-57. - USA TODAY Sports
After a solid 30 minutes of bad basketball, the Bears somehow flipped the switch to pull out a 73-57 win against the USC Upstate Spartans.
First half shooting from the Bears was abysmal, hitting exactly 0 of 10 3-point attempts. In addition to poor perimeter shooting, Baylor turned the ball over 9 times, and was lethargic on the boards.
Despite the cold start, Isaiah Austin had 10 first half points to lead the Bears to a 2 point lead after 20 minutes.
The second half brought more poor shooting from the Baylor backcourt. At one point in the second half, guards were 4 for 24 from the field. Guards other than Pierre Jackson were 1 for 16.
Cory Jefferson and work horse Ricardo Gathers sparked the Bears with violent fast-break dunks at the 13 and 8 minute marks, respectively. Defensive energy and pressure increased, the Bears went on to force 6 turnovers and took advantage of the opportunities. Brady Heslip seemingly broke out of his shooting slump, finishing the half with a pair 3-point makes and 8 total points.
The Spartans took advantage of poor rebounding technique throughout the game, grabbing 12 offensive rebounds. Many of these turned into immediate kick out passes and relatively open jump shots. Defensive rebounding was no different a story, with USC Upstate edging the Bears 33-31. An undersized team USC Upstate exploited a lack of effort from the Baylor frontcourt and took advantage of the extra possessions.
In summary, if the talent disparity was any less, USC Upstate might win this game. Without a late push, forced turnovers, and poor shooting from the Spartans, this is a much, much closer game. This game was painfully similar to watch as Northwestern and College of Charleston, albeit with a better end result. In the future, Scott Drew has to make sure the defensive and rebounding energy is there all 40 minutes, or this looks to be a long and disappointing season.
The Bears can put this behind them and look forward to the BYU Cougars on December 21st.