No. 4 Baylor brings plenty of momentum and fresh legs to the court and looks to continue its torrid start when it hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday afternoon in Waco, Texas.
The Bears head back to the court after a seven-day break and on the heels of a rousing 75-58 win over Michigan State to capture the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas. Baylor forged a 7-0 run late in the first half that garnered a two-point lead at the break then put its stamp on the tournament championship game with a 17-6 spurt that ultimately produced the victory.
The Bears (7-0) have now won 31 straight nonconference contests and four of their past five regular-season tournaments. Baylor also defeated Arizona State and VCU in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
“I thought in the second half today, you saw the best of Baylor basketball,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said after the victory over Michigan State. “To win a tournament like this, you have to have depth. It’s not your game every game. You have to have people that pick you up.
“And each and every game we have guys step up and make plays. Definitely the depth is a big reason for our success.”
James Akinjo led Baylor with 15 points in the win and was named tournament MVP. Kendall Brown added 12, Adam Flagler hit for 11 points and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua scored 10 points in the victory. Baylor forced 19 turnovers against Michigan State and never let the Spartans closer than 10 points over the final 14 minutes.
“We know how we want to play out there, so once we asserted ourselves, we knew we’d get things going,” Flagler said. “And then from there we just knew we had to control the game the way we wanted to as guards.”
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-8) heads to Waco after an 83-64 loss at Iowa State on Wednesday. Shawn Williams led the Golden Lions with 21 points, with Trey Sampson hitting for 16 and Kylen Milton scoring 13 points in the setback. The Golden Lions shot just 40 percent from the floor, committed 19 turnovers and were outrebounded 37-26 in the loss.
The defeat came two days after Arkansas-Pine Bluff won its only game of season at home against Arkansas Baptist College.
“It’s a work in progress,” Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Solomon Bozeman said after the loss. “We just have to build on our confidence and be consistent. We have more work to do and have to be better.”
Arkansas-Pine Bluff has had a daunting schedule over the first month of the season, with road losses to Creighton (by 13 points), Colorado State (by 20), and Wyoming (40 points). All eight of its defeats have come away from home.
The Golden Lions have been outscored by 19.1 points per game this season and have shot just 37.7 percent from the floor (29 percent from beyond the arc). Arkansas-Pine Bluff has a minus-10.8 margin in rebounding and has committed an average of 14.4 turnovers per contest.
–Field Level Media