HOUSTON (AP) — Baylor used a strong-shooting second half to pull away for another win.
Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler scored 19 points each and No. 10 Baylor beat UT-Martin 91-63 Wednesday night for its eighth straight win.
MaCio Teague had 12 points and Mark Vital added 11 for the Bears (9-1), who shot 56%, including 62% in the second half.
“We knew they weren’t going to go away,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Credit our guys for coming out in the second half. The first half when we got separation, we turned the ball over, and we had some defensive breakdowns. I thought the second half we did a much better job of staying locked in.”
Flo Thamba had 11 points and eight rebounds, and Butler also had six assists.
“Definitely, having the depth where you have multiple guys that can score so if one guy has an off night, you have enough firepower to make up for it,” Drew said. “I thought our guys – sometimes teams go on holiday before the last game’s over and our guys didn’t – they stayed locked in and did a great job focusing.”
Parker Stewart finished with 18 points, Miles Thomas had 17 and Quintin Dove added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Skyhawks (3-7), who lost for the sixth time in seven games. UT-Martin shot 35%.
“That’s as good of a first half as we have played all year,” UT-Martin coach Anthony Stewart said. “I was proud of our defensive effort, how we executed on offense. Anytime you can go against a Big 12 team, a Baylor team and have 19 offensive rebounds, that just shows the kind of grit, character and physicality that this team has.”
After the Bears opened the game with a 17-5 run, the Skyhawks answered with a 13-2 spurt to cut the lead to one on Quintin Dove’s layup with 8 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
Baylor finished the half on a 7-0 spurt capped by a dunk by Vital to take a 38-30 lead into halftime.
Baylor started the second half on a 12-4 run to open up a 16-point lead on Mitchell’s layup with 15 1/2 minutes to go.
“I think our defense really turned up, and we got some easy steals which turned into easy offense,” Butler said of the second half. “We got some easy layups and started to wear them down.”
UT-Martin: The Skyhawks kept it close throughout the first half, but Baylor’s athleticism and depth was too much. UT-Martin had the edge in rebounding at 40-38 and held a 16-11 advantage in second chance points.
“I challenged them to be physical,” Stewart said. “I thought we were in spurts. We needed to be for 40 minutes. The first half we gave them a ballgame. We were right there with them, toe-to-toe. Second half, it got away from us a little bit, but they didn’t quit.”
Baylor: The Bears had issues with UT-Martin’s size in the first half but were able to break through with a huge second half. Baylor dominated the points in the paint, 54-26, and had a 16-6 advantage in fast break points. Baylor had 21 assists on 39 made field goals. Baylor forced 19 turnovers, which it converted into 27 points.
Baylor finished with seven blocks as a team, led by four by Thamba, but Vital had the block of the night with 13 minutes remaining, sending Stewart’s 3-pointer from the left sideline over the UT-Martin bench and into the fifth row.
UT-Martin hosts Mount St. Joseph on Dec. 29.
Baylor hosts Jackson State on Dec. 30.