Christmas time basketball can get a little strange. With players and coaches flying back and forth for the holidays to their homes, distraction can run rampant for any team. Add in some smaller crowds with students on winter break, and a team that can do something to hurt you, and that is a recipe for an upset. The Holidays are the time for upsets, and weird ones at that. The point of them is to get enough games in to keep your readiness for the beginning of conference play, which is usually right around the corner.
Tuesday night, the Baylor Bears took on Norfolk State, a team that was 9-5 with an above average offense led by Jeff Short and RaShid Gaston. That offense was on full display early in the game as the Spartans hit their first three 3-point shots of the game, and led for almost 7 minutes of the first half. Their lead wold grow up to as big as 5-points behind some torrid shooting and timely mistakes by the Bears. The Spartans were also helped by a stretch of cold shooting by the Bears, that saw them miss 8 shots in a row.
The Bears would secure the lead again with just under 7 minutes to go, but it wasn't until a last second 3-pointer from the corner by Taurean Prince that the lead grew to 5-points. That shot with time expired would be the start of a 30-6 run that included 15 points from Royce O'Neale to start the second half.
As the second half continued, the defensive pressure the Bears applied to the Spartans increased, as they limited Norfolk State to 8-32 from the floor, and 1-10 from 3-point range. With no outside shooting and a dominant Baylor effort on the glass, the Spartans had to hope that the Bears cold shooting would continue in the second half. It did not, as Baylor scorched the nets with 69% shooting overall, and a season high 60 points in a half.
Fun Stats of the Game
-Royce O'Neale made a 3-pointer on 4-straight possessions for the Bears early in the 2nd quarter.
-Baylor won the second half 60-24, with the sixty points being a season high for a half
-The Bears also set season highs for assists (28), offensive rebounds (23), blocks (8), field goals made (34), points (92) and margin of victory (41)
-Baylor is 168-43 when out-rebounding its opponents in the Drew era and 10-1 this season
-Baylor has held opponents under 65 points in 11 out of 12 games this season and all 12 teams under 70 points
Player of the Game
The Bears are at their best when their senior do-everything is playing at a high level. With a career high 23 points and 5-6 from behind the arc, it doesn't get much better than that for the second year Bear. O'Neale gave the Bears a massive spark to start the second half, one that the team desperately needed.