WACO, TEXAS — The No. 5 Baylor Bears (3-0, 0-0) waltzed to a 95-62 win over the Northern Colorado Bears (1-2, 0-0) in what was Coach Scott Drew’s 400th win as the head coach of the program.
Adam Flagler was happy just to be out there for Drew’s big moment: “I’m a little wet right now because we was having a water shower with him. It’s really just amazing to be a part of something so special, how he uses his platform to glorify God in everything he does. You know, how he’s taken this culture and made it, you know, so special in a way that everyone knows about it. I’m just glad to be a part of it, to be honest.”
“I think they had extra cold water. They had that in the freezer!” Drew laughed to start his postgame presser. “I’ve been very blessed. God’s given us great players, great coaches, great administration, great fans, and Baylor family. When they say ‘400’, it’s a team award, team honor. Everybody is to be congratulated anytime a team wins. But what you love as a coach is you love when people, players, coaches are happy for others. Our guys really cherish each other. That is special.
“I’m excited for a warm shower when I get back.”
Flagler (13 points, 2 rebounds,10 assists) once again led the Bears with steady, productive play and leadership. He’s been unstoppable three, dropping the most unassuming yet rude threes right in the defender’s face. Flagler showed some of the growth in his game early in the second half with a gorgeous probing drive and bounce pass in the paint to a cutting Jalen Bridges (15 pts, 2 rebs). Already awarded a Big 12 Player of the Week honor, Flagler continues to show off his maturing game.
LJ Cryer added 20 points despite another subpar shooting night by his immaculate standards. He flashed a nice drive and finish ability that will serve him well when his shot isn’t falling.
Keyonte George (12 pts, 7 rebs, 6 asts) contributed despite a poor shooting night (4-12). He had several tight passes to create for his teammates and played solid defense, again showing his all-around game.
Dale Bonner had perhaps the highlight of the night with his first (of two!) steal and slam: https://twitter.com/BaylorMBB/status/1592328111080644609
That play highlighted a dominating 23-5 run by the Bears in the first half, earlier than Baylor’s typical second half run of death. Baylor did, by the way, conclude a second half 21-1 run of death with 8 minutes remaining in the game.
Bonner was once again effective in his role off the bench. His 12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 6 steals demonstrate his impact in every area, but perhaps do not even capture the aggressive mentality he’s brought to the team his season.
When asked which he liked more, his two dunks or six steals, Bonner laughed. “Both. I can’t choose one.”
It perhaps could have been said at the start of the season that he brought stability but not much sizzle. His steal and finish in a crowd of three defenders is indicative of the heart he brings to Baylor’s bench heavy units. It’s now just plainly the case that Baylor has four elite guards.
“There’s not a better ball-mover in the country. We call him Mr. Point-Five. He gets to the paint and he moves it,” Drew said of Bonner.
The first half was a generally strong showing across the board for Baylor. The shooting was strong and balanced (52% FG, 38% 3PT). The defense turned UNC over 14 times; 7 of those were steals that led to 15 fast break points and two George-Love connections with some slick passing and strong finishing.
Mostly, it was Baylor doing what was expected in the first half and all game long. The offense flowed, and the defense locked down. Northern Colorado didn’t present much challenge, but the Baylor Bears dominated the opponent in front of them.
“The guys really like one another,” Drew said after the game. “They really get along, cheer for each other. Early in the year it’s tough too, as you’re getting roles established. People all have expectations. They all want to play. But this group really supports one another, is excited for one another.”
Baylor will play next on Friday in Las Vegas against No. 19 Virginia in the Roman Main Event. Tip-off will be at 7PM CT on ESPN2. The Virginia Cavaliers (2-0, 0-0) are ranked one spot ahead of Baylor by KenPom at No. 6, sporting both a top-ten offense and top-ten defense. Virginia came into the season ranked significantly higher by KenPom than by the human polls. It will be the first true test for either team this season.