No. 9 Baylor Improves To 8-0 With 91-40 Win Over Northwestern State

Northwestern State forward Justin Wilson (11) dunks in front of Baylor guard Miro Little (1) and guard Ja'Kobe Walter (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
Northwestern State forward Justin Wilson (11) dunks in front of Baylor guard Miro Little (1) and guard Ja'Kobe Walter (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
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WACO, Texas (AP) — Jalen Bridges made four 3-pointers while scoring 16 points, freshman Yves Missi had a double-double and No. 9 Baylor remained undefeated with a 91-40 victory over Northwestern State on Saturday.

RayJ Dennis had 14 points and six assists for the Bears (8-0), and freshman Ja’Kobe Walter had 10 points and four steals. Missi finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

“That’s a team that can win a national championship,” Northwestern State coach Rick Cabrera said. “They have NBA size at every position and NBA talent. You come in here at the start of the game and try to win it but as time goes on you just focus on getting better. At times, you just have to look across and say they’re a better team than we are.”

The game was tied at 4 before Bridges buried a 3-pointer and scored on a drive during an 11-0 run that put Baylor ahead for good. He had another 3 and a putback basket in a 10-0 run for a 36-13 lead.

Jimel Lane led Northwestern State (1-7) with 10 points. The Demons shot 25% (14 of 56) from the field.

Baylor shot 53% (32 of 60) and finished with a 51-22 rebounding margin. For the Bears defense, the 40 points were the fewest allowed this season and the 25% shooting percentage was the lowest.

“Today’s effort, that has to be the standard, and it can’t be the exception,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said when asked if this could be his best defensive team. “I love how this team plays hard, competes. We just have to do this all the time. Now, if we do this the rest of the season, then the answer is yes. Because 25%, that’s remarkable.”

MISSI MISDIRECTING SHOTS

With a Big 12-high 19 blocks in his first eight college games, the 7-foot Missi could become Baylor’s best rim protector since Ekpe Udoh in 2009-10.

“The one thing being, Ep was in his fourth year of college by that time. And his awareness of help-side defense, I’ve never coached a player like Ep that could take away plays by knowing scouting reports and being in two and three places at one time,” Drew said. “And Yves, that part isn’t there. The physicality is not there. But the shot-blocking, he jumps higher than anybody we’ve ever coached.”

400 AT THE FERRELL

The Bears captured their 399th win at the Ferrell Center, leaving them two opportunities to reach 400 wins before they move into a new arena on Jan. 2. Their first victory in the campus facility was 73-48 over Hardin-Simmons on Dec. 3, 1988, and their record in the building is 399-169.

Baylor is 10-1 against the Demons, with eight of those wins in the Ferrell Center.

UP NEXT

Northwestern State plays at Southern Mississippi on Dec. 9.

Baylor faces Seton Hall on Tuesday night in the Big East-Big 12 Battle. The Bears then have back-to-back games in NBA arenas, against Michigan State in Detroit and a Dec. 20 game against No. 7 Duke at Madison Square Garden.

“I think this next stretch will show us what we need to get better on for Big 12 play,” Drew said. “Obviously, you’d rather learn through wins than losses. But the next stretch, you’ve got a Big East, a Big Ten, an ACC team. That should tell us where we need to be and what we need to focus on before we get into the grind of the (Big) 12.”

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball