WACO, Texas (AP) — Langston Love matched his career high with 20 points, RayJ Dennis scored 16 points with eight assists and 20th-ranked Baylor won its home opener 96-70 over NAIA team John Brown on Thursday.
Jayden Nunn added 15 points for the Bears (2-0), who played the midday game before mostly elementary school students only about 37 hours after finishing their season-opening win over Auburn in South Dakota. They got back to Waco at about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“It’s pretty tough, but the way we practice hard and go hard every day, the turnaround wasn’t that bad for us,” Love said. “We were able to come out and do what we were supposed to do.”
Drew Miller had 19 points with five 3-pointers to lead John Brown. Malachi Reeves added 17 points while making all seven of his field goal attempts.
Dennis, the MAC Player of the Year at Toledo last season, also had six steals and was key in two big runs after halftime. He had consecutive layups to start a 10-0 run, one after his steal, then in a later 13-0 spurt scored six points in a 37-second span with a jumper and consecutive steals he turned into fastbreak dunks.
“In the second half, we made it a point to lock down on defense,” Dennis said. “Some balls fell my way."
John Brown was still within 52-43 with 15 1/2 minutes left before Baylor pulled away.
BIG MEN, BIG NUMBERS
Yves Missi, a 7-foot freshman from Cameroon, had 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks for Baylor. Josh Ojianwuna, a 6-10 sophomore, had 10 rebounds.
The Bears were understandably sluggish after the quick turnaround against a scrappy team playing with nothing to lose; not even the game since John Brown counted it as an exhibition. Baylor will get credited with a victory on its overall record. The Bears shot 56% from the field (41 of 73), but that included 10 dunks and 66 points in the paint.
Jason Beschta, in his 10th season as John Brown's coach, was a graduate assistant at Baylor during coach Scott Drew's first season in 2003-04. The Golden Eagles won their first two games.
“I’s kind of a freebie,” Beschta said. “That’s a dream for anybody that’s going to play college basketball, you want to see how you do in this kind of environment. ... This is just such a fun group to coach. And you could see it on their faces watching them play out there today.”
Drew said it was good for the Bears, including seven newcomers, to experience a quick turnaround.
“With the new Big 12, you’ve got more travel. Get back at 3:30 in the morning, you’ve got to get used to getting up, going to school, going to work, playing the next day because you play on Saturday and Mondays and, you know, in the conference tournament are back-to-back games,” Drew said. “With a lot of new guys, each game experience we get a chance to see what they can do.”
John Brown plays Friday at Evangel University in Missouri.
Baylor plays the second of three consecutive home games Sunday against Gardner-Webb.
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