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Baylor Beats Central Arkansas 107-66

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The Bears are 1-0!

NCAA Basketball: Central Arkansas at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Manu Lecomte’s terrific shooting day, Baylor opened the season with a resounding 107-66 victory over Central Arkansas. Baylor next plays at 7:00 on Monday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

The Bears opened the game with a different starting lineup than many of us expected. Lecomte, King McClure, Nuni Omot, Jo Lual-Acuil and freshman Tristan Clark were the starting five. They played better than even the most optimistic fan could have expected. McClure shot well, Omot looked like he’s made a leap and Lual-Acuil finished in the paint.

Then there was Clark. He was the Texas 6A Player of the Year last season. In the preview, I mentioned a few around the program said he was the most ready freshman big man at Baylor. He displayed nifty post moves, and perhaps most impressively, his big-to-big passing was phenomenal. He found Lual-Acuil for easy opportunities, and he connected with Terry Maston for a nice layup.

Baylor played exceptionally well offensively. Maston had a run where he scored 10 straight points. Lecomte started the game 5-for-5 from 3-point land and finished with 22 points on just 10 shots. McClure joined the efficiency club and had 15 points on eight shots. Lual-Acuil added 17 as well.

The Bears played at a much faster pace than they have recently. Baylor 328th in tempo last season. Today, they pushed the pace, which helped Mark Vital in his first game with the team. He had six assists and was actively defensively, nabbing two steals and disrupting passing lanes.

Baylor didn’t deviate far from their past identity though. The Bears opened in a 1-3-1 zone and played that defense for much of the day. The old “awesome play” where Ish Wainright caught a pass after coming off a screen on the right side of the court is now manned by Omot and Vital. Different men but a similar style.

This was a dominant performance by a good team. It’s rare for a team to shoot as well as the Bears did today (12-for-17 from deep will beat anyone), and at times, the Bears problems with turnovers returned—they finished 308th in that category last season. But the Bears look like they’re a lot closer to returning to the Sweet 16 than finishing behind Texas in the Big 12. This should be another wonderful season.