Two days after a long flight back from the west coast, the No.1 Baylor Bears (11-0) cruised past a feisty Alcorn State (1-10) 94-57 behind the efforts of Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua (16 pts, 9 rebs, 2-2 3PT) and Kendall Brown (16 pts). Starting guards James Akinjo and Adam Flagler had a combined 12 assists and scored 12 points apiece.
Flo Thamba (16 pts, 4 rebs) and Tchamwa-Tchatchoua combined for a perfect 14-14 from the floor. Both players had career highs in scoring. After a season dominated by the guards, Baylor’s bigs are showing tremendous growth. Tchamwa-Tchatchoua commented after the game that he has started feeling confident in his outside shot.
“Definitely. I also had my coaching staff and teammates’ support. It was all about me breaking through that wall,” Tchamwa-Tchatchoua had to say.
“We just showed up to play,” Thamba said after the game, remarking on the career night.
Asked about his two centers having a perfect shooting night from the field, coach Scott Drew answered, “Yeah we’ll take that. Couldn’t be more happy and excited for him. As excited with Flo being 8 for 8, more excited about him graduating. Great honor and tribute for him. But really excited for those two, they worked hard.”
Baylor’s opening possession featured a familiar Brown baseline cut, leading to an and-one layup for the freshman whose star continues to ascend.
LJ Cryer was out tonight in street clothes and a walking boot on his right foot. Matthew Mayer might as well have been. He played a disengaged game, fouling out in only 13 minutes without scoring a point.
Alcorn State, who has yet to play a home game this season, put forth the kind of effort not necessarily found at this time of the year. Alcorn played nearly the entire game in a 3/4 press, trapping hard at half court and anytime the ball neared the sideline. While Alcorn doesn’t have the type of length or athleticism needed to disrupt a team like Baylor, their effort did force the Bears to play with their heads up use discipline advancing the ball up the floor.
For the Bears, the defense was not quite as locked in. A few more drives to the basket slipped through than usual, and Alcorn managed to shoot 54% from the floor in the first half. That percentage would go on to drop precipitously in the second frame. Alcorn managed only 24% shooting in the second half.
Because of the absence of Cryer, Scott Drew went to a lineup featuring the two starting guards, both freshman wings, and Tchamwa-Tchatchoua. That lineup had seen only 12 possessions all season prior to tonight. That combination brings a lot of movement and passing. It was highly effective against Alcorn’s press and zone.
Baylor shot 15-20 (75%) from the free throw line as a team, a marked improvement from the 8-18 (44%) Saturday against Oregon. Baylor also tallied 29 assists.
Baylor’s big were on fire from deep. Tchamwa-Tchatchoua drained both his attempts from above the break, and Zach Loved entered the game and promptly drained a corner three over his defender.
Kendall Brown won the Big XII Newcomer of the Week. Brown is the first Baylor freshman to win the award since Jared Butler scored 17 and 20 points in wins against Iowa State and West Virginia, respectively, in 2019. On Saturday, Brown helped Baylor overcome a second half deficit against the Oregon Ducks with 15 second half points.
The reigning Big XII Coach of the Year Scott Drew earned his 401st win tonight. At age 51, Drew is close behind notable retired coaches Rick Byrd (Belmont, 415) and Digger Phelps (Notre Dame, 419).
Baylor’s home win streak now stands at 20 games as the Bears remain one of six unbeaten teams this season.
Merry Christmas and sic’em, Bears!