WACO, Texas (AP) — LJ Cryer and the fourth-ranked Baylor Bears were ready to get back to playing together, a week after getting home from winning a title in the Bahamas.
Cryer came off the bench to score 20 points, leading five players in double figures for the undefeated Bears in their 99-54 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday.
“It was very important," Cryer said about being back on the court in the first game since wrapping up the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament championship on Nov. 26. “We don’t want to take too much time off and continue to build chemistry with a game like this, so it was very important.”
Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua added 14 points and 13 rebounds off the bench for the Bears (8-0), while Matthew Mayer led Baylor starters with 14 points — making 4-of-5 3-pointers — and seven rebounds. Jeremy Sochan scored 12 points and Kendall Brown had 11. Flo Thamba pulled down 10 rebounds to help Baylor's 49-24 advantage on the boards.
Baylor's reserves outscored its starters 59-40.
“I thought the bench was tremendous,” coach Scott Drew said. “We got a lot of people minutes, and now it’s on to Villanova and finals.”
The defending national champion Bears get another long break before hosting sixth-ranked Villanova on Dec. 12 in a rematch of last year's Sweet 16 matchup. That's right before final exams start on the Waco campus.
Baylor had a 10-point lead when Brown made a layup with 14:14 left in the first half. The Golden Lions never got the margin back to single digits.
Brandon Brown was 8 of 11 from the floor and led Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-8) with 19 points. The Golden Lions shot 40% from the floor and didn’t attempt their first free throw until about four minutes left in the game.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Solomon Bozeman was unavailable after the game for comment.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: The team was locked down by Baylor’s defense and forced to fire up contested long-range shots as the shot clock expired. They didn’t try to get offensive rebounds on many possessions, with their guards backpedaling to try to keep the Bears out of transition.
Baylor: The Bears didn’t play their cleanest game offensively, especially with eight first-half turnovers, but cruised with their depth and defense. The Bears limited the Golden Lions to a 12% (3 for 25) from beyond the arc, and Baylor shot 62.5% in the second half.
Baylor could move into the top three after No. 1 Duke lost to unranked Ohio State over the past week.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: Hosts Arkansas State on Wednesday.
Baylor: Has a week off before hosting No. 6 Villanova on Dec. 12.
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