With a brand new look in the front court for the Bears, the commonly thought of strength entering the 2012 season was the backcourt. However, it was all about the new big guys in the lineup for the Bears in their season opening win over Lehigh 99-77. The Bears were led by Cory Jefferson's 26 points to go along with 13 rebounds, both career highs.
The Bears starting back court of Brady Heslip and Pierre Jackson struggled from the floor as they made just 7 of 19 shots including a 2 of 12 from behind the 3-point line. In fact, the two returning starters missed 12 of the Bears total 22 shots.
Starting center Isaiah Austin was limited to just 17 minutes due to foul trouble in the first half and a twisted ankle in the second half, forcing Jeffesron to play a career high 35 minutes. However, in those 17 minutes, Austin scored 22 points on 10-12 shooting. The 7-1 freshman from Arlington, TX landed on an opponents foot and rolled his right ankle with about 16 minutes left in the second half.
In a matchup of two all-american guards, CJ McCollum scored 36 points and had 8 rebounds for Lehigh against Pierre Jackson, the Big 12 pre-season player of the year. Jackson only scored 3 points in the first half, but had 8 assists including several highlight passes to Austin and Jefferson for dunks.
Baylor led by as much as 17 in the first half, but a late Lehigh run got the lead down to 10 at the break. The Bears though, answered to start the second half as they scored the first 6 points of the second half and would never look back and the lead would never go under 13 points again.
To go along with their new-look front court, the Bears played man defense for the entire game, moving away from the 2-3 zone that they had primarily played the past few years under Coach Drew. The Bears rotated players in and out quickly, as 10 players played more than 8 minutes of action. The bench was incredibly efficient for the Bears. They made 10 of 12 shots, and combined for 24 points and 14 rebounds and 8 assists. The high point scorer of the bench for the Bears was freshman Taurean Prince who had 8 points on 3 of 4 shooting. Deuce Bello also chipped in 7 points in 19 minutes.
Stats of the Game:
Cory Jefferson recorded 9 dunks against Lehigh
The Bears had 28 assists on 40 made field goals
Baylor out-rebounded Lehigh 44-32
Baylor shot 64.5% from the field, but shot an incredible 34-42 from inside the 3-point arc (80.95%)
Two Bears had a double-double, Jefferson with 26 points and 13 rebounds, and Pierre Jackson with 14 points and 12 assists
Outside of Brady Heslip and Pierre Jackson, the rest of the Bears shot 33-43 (76.74%).
Keys to the Game:
-Corral McCollum - The Bears did not do a great job of stopping McCollum from scoring in this game, as you can tell from his game high 36 points. However, they forced him into an inefficient 36 points. It took him 32 shots to score those points, and he only got 2 assists. The Bears did a good job of funneling him to help, he just made some great shots. While his scoring total was gaudy, he never could get enough going around him to really put Lehigh in a position to win.
-Pound the Glass - This was the game, right here. The Bears second score of the game was an offensive put back by Isaiah Austin and that was a sign of things to come. The Bears post players dominated the glass all night, especially on the offensive side. They missed just 22 shots and got 12 offensive rebounds. Read that again. 22 opportunities for offensive rebounds and the Bears got 12 of them, or 54.55%. Cory Jefferson recorded 5 on the day, but got help from his post mates Rico Gathers and Isaiah Austin.
-Stay close on the turnovers - While the final total of 16 turnovers may not look that good, the Bears had just 3 turnovers in 15 minutes of action in the 2nd half when they extended their lead to 24 points. They only finished -7 in turnovers, while not great in a normal game, that is pretty good against a Lehigh team that was one of the best in the country in not turning the ball over in 2011-2012. s
Player of the Game:
Cory Jefferson - 26 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 sleeves
Cory Jefferson, in his first shot at major minutes for the Bears, looked like a completely different player. He played with energy and passion and confidence. Jefferson was active on the offensive glass, getting 5 offensive rebounds. Cory showed a tremendous ability to take advantage of the aggressive perimeter defense that Lehigh played, trying to limit Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip.
Jefferson would setup his man and then slip the screen rolling to the bucket for several easy dunks. Two-Sleeves came up huge especially after Austin left the game with foul trouble in the first half and then again when Austin rolled his ankle in the second half. He was a big player on offense and challenged several shots on defense that didn't even show up as blocks. Great performance for a young man that waiting his turn patiently to be the big guy on the block for the Bears.
Overreaction Central - Baylor Vs. Lehigh
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