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No. 12 Bears Gear Up for Conference Opener with 85-56 WinOver Nicholls

With Cryer out, Love stepped in admirably and Ojianwuna had his best game yet

NCAA Basketball: Nicholls State at Baylor Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

WACO, TX — Three days from the start of Big 12 play, the No. 12 Baylor Bears (10-2, 0-0) notched the last non-conference victory of 2022 with a 85-56 final against the Nicholls Colonels (6-7, 1-0). Langston Love road a 5-6 night from the floor for 17 points while season scoring leader Adam Flagler dropped 20 with 4 threes. Star freshman Keyonte George scored 21 on 4-6 three with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

The Bears last had two 20-point scorers against Tarleton earlier this month, when George and Love score 22 and 20, respectively.

An 8-2 run by Nicholls opened the second half, a comfortable 45-33 halftime lead shrinking to just 6 points. As usual, Flagler was the one to right the ship. The man shooting nearly 52% from 3PT this season knocked down his fourth three of the game from the top of the arc. The senior guard has exceeded even lofty expectations from three-point range this season.

Flagler credits his teammates and preparation for his success this season: “My teammates, able to break so many people down. I’m able to get good looks. But you know, the preparation - shoutout to the GAs for the time they put in, late nights, early mornings, coming in here, helping us to just be ready for these moments.”

In the only semi-contested portion of the game, the back-to-back Southland conference champions made 6 straight field goals to keep the score at 19-13 nearly 10 minutes into the game. Meanwhile, George scored 8 points for the Bears to hold the lead at 24-15.

Flagler then sank just one of two but the ball bounced off Nicholls out of bounds to give Baylor possession. After the inbound, George made his 3rd three of the night to extend the lead.

Nicholls responded with a 7-0 run, fueled by a turnover and bad missed jumper by the Bears, and the game was once again back within 6.

This was Love’s moment to take control of the game, as a buzzer beating floater ended the run, and Flagler’s three next time down the floor made it double-figures once again.

Love hit a three the following possession, making the Bears 8-13 from deep with 5 minutes remaining in the first half, the lead back to double figures at 36-24. Coach Drew complemented the redshirt freshman after the game, “Langston, I thought was really efficient. He took high percentage shots. 17 points on 6 shots, that’s really good. I’d like to get him a double-double guy, cause he’s physical and he’s capable of that.”

The game was unofficially ended with a 19-2 run by the Bears heading into the final 10 minutes of play. Baylor held Nicholls to 1-15 shooting in the run and forced 7 turnovers in 8 minutes as they seized firm control of the game. Before the run was over, the lead had ballooned to nearly 30 points.

Freshman big man Josh Ojianwuna tallied career highs in points (11) and rebounds (11) en route to his first career double-double. “He’s grown really good. He’s a hard worker,” Love said of his teammate after the game. “Every coach wants consistency. Josh, what he did tonight, he played within himself. And he’s capable of doing that every night. Hopefully we can get more of that, especially the rim protection,” Drew added.

LJ Cryer was out tonight in concussion protocol. Drew declined in the postgame to comment on whether the initial injury had occurred in a practice or elsewhere. Drew is hopeful Cryer will be available for Saturday, but it’s unclear where Cryer is in the process.

Speaking on Saturday — Baylor opens Big 12 conference play on the road in Ames, Iowa against the Iowa State Cyclones (9-2, 0-0) on Saturday afternoon at 1PM. That game will be broadcast on ESPNU. This will be a tough test as Baylor relies on several key young players who will be in their first Big 12 road game.