Baylor uses size to dominate Savannah State

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WACO, Texas -- Ninth-ranked Baylor had a massive size advantage Friday night against Savannah State and didn't shy away from using it.

The Bears got double-digit scoring effort from four of their frontcourt players and pounded the Tigers in the paint en route to a routine 80-50 victory at the Ferrell Center.

The win was Baylor's 12th straight on its home floor and ran Savannah State losing streak to 10. The Tigers have yet to win on the road (0-8) or away from home (0-10) this season.

"Thirty-point win in Division I, you take it and you move on from there," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "So no glaring issues. Offensive rebounding, I would have liked to have done a better job there, but that's the only thing statistically that comes to mind."

Small forward Taurean Prince scored 12 of his team-best 15 points in the first half for Baylor (12-1), and power forward Rico Gathers didn't score before halftime but finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Power forward Cory Jefferson added 13 points and seven rebounds, while center Isaiah Austin contributed 11 points and seven rebounds.

"I really don't pay attention to who's guarding me," Prince said. "I just think it's trying to bring energy in any way possible. I run so hard in transition, so I think that gives me an advantage over the defense."

The Bears' superiority up front led to higher-percentage shots and a 52.9 percent shooting night, while their length defensively deterred the Tigers from taking the ball inside. Savannah State shot 33.3 percent from the floor and settled for 23 3-point attempts, making only six.

The Tigers also were unable to get to the free-throw line with any consistency. In fact, their first trip to the line came with 6:52 left in the game, and Baylor outscored them from the charity stripe 19-2.

"They were bigger than us on the inside, and we were just trying to pull off the wings and get the wings to attack and have their bigs rotate over," Savannah State coach Horace Broadnax said. "We wanted to let our big guys touch it. They didn't have to score down there, just let them touch it and kick back out.

"That's what these bigger programs do is they get you outside your comfort zone. When you're outside your comfort zone, that's something that's unfamiliar to you. So you can't react. You start thinking, and if you think out here on the basketball court against a program like Baylor, you're going to be in trouble."

Gathers scored most of his points during a second-half flurry. He tallied baskets on a dunk and a pair of putbacks, including one that resulted in a 3-point play, and a pair of free throws to help the Bears to an 11-2 run that made it a 66-42 cushion with 8:14 to go.

Savannah State guard Joshua Montgomery was held without a field goal in the second half, but still managed a team-best 15 points. Nobody else scored more than seven points for the Tigers, and forward Jyles Smith grabbed nine rebounds to lead Savannah State.

Prince scored 12 points off the bench in the first half, and Baylor shot a torrid 71.4 percent from the floor to take a 46-28 lead into intermission.

"We just didn't compete defensively," Broadnax said. "I think they were shooting over 75, 80 percent at one point. I don't think we could shoot that well if we were on the court by ourselves. That's just part of competing, and the type of weapons they've got.

"They've got big bodies, they've got guards that can knock down shots and can get off the dribble. Their big guys pass decent, and they can get off the dribble, too. They throw a lot of different things at you and create a lot of problems for you."

The Bears, who were 6-for-7 from 3-point range, also picked up nine points apiece from Austin and Jefferson.

Savannah State stayed in the game early, thanks in large part to the shooting of Montgomery. The senior entered the game averaging 8.7 points per game, but he drained his first four 3-point attempts and led the Tigers with 14 points.

Montgomery's third trey cut the Tigers' deficit to 23-17, but Baylor immediately responded with a 9-0 run that included three free throws from guard Brady Heslip after he was fouled on a 3-point try and a dunk from Austin to help push the lead out to 15.

The Bears stretched that to 40-21 after guard Kenny Chery hit an off-balance shot for 3, and Jefferson stepped outside for his second 3-pointer as they kept the margin between 16 and 19 the rest of the half.

Baylor's ball movement produced 12 assists on its 15 made free throws in the first half, and it also limited the Tigers to 31 percent shooting while committing only three team fouls.

"We really shared the ball in the first half and made the extra passes, and we made shots," Drew said. "In the second half, we didn't get as easy of looks. We didn't work the ball as well early on, and we had some 3s. We were 1-for-11 in the second half from 3.

"That's why, if you depend on the 3-ball, you're not going to have a very good year because you're going to have nights when you miss."

NOTES: This is the last non-conference game for both teams. Savannah State begins MEAC competition by hosting Maryland-Eastern Shore on Monday, while Baylor will travel to meet Iowa State the next day. ... Savannah State did not shoot a free throw in the first half. ... F Taurean Prince led Baylor in scoring in the first half for the second consecutive game, despite coming off the bench in both contests.

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