The questions might not be fully answered about this Baylor team, but the start could not have gone any better in a dominant 97-55 win over Stephen F. Austin. Lester Medford in his first game as the Bears starting point guard, displayed a more compused and patient attack than he did last year in racking up 13 points and 9 assists. New starting shooting guard Al Freeman showed off an improved jump shot, and some excellent shot fakes, with 11 points and 2 assists. The new, youthful backup guards, King McClure and Jake Lindsey, totaled 18 points in their 27 minutes.
Ish Wainright, fresh off of losing 30 pounds and displaying a quicker game, hit the first bucket of the 2015 season. Even more shocking was that it was a corner 3-pointer that was true at the start of a well-rounded 8 point, 9 rebound, 6 assist effort. It proved Coach Drew's surprising decision to start the junior forward over center Jonathan Motley. “Ish, since practice has started, has played really well. He was 258, now he’s 228. You take a 30-pound weight vest off you, you’re quicker and you’re a lot more athletic. Ish has always been a great teammate, he’s always made winning plays, and he can make a lot more now because of his conditioning," said Coach Drew.
With the balance of 6 players scoring in double figures, the Bears offensive attack was spot on for the entire night, proven by 31 assists on 36 made shots. Baylor found the open man when they needed to. With a new backcourt, and quite a few fresh faces making their debut, the Bears faced off against an SFA team that was excellent at forcing turnovers in 2014. Baylor had just 8 turnovers in the game, with only 1 coming before halftime. It was an effecient and effective offensive assault by the Bears, that spread the ball around. They attacked inside, and got easy layups and dunks over the shorter Lumberjacks, but also rotated the ball when they needed to for open perimeter shots.
Coach Drew was very impressed with his Bears ability to value the ball. “Well they scrimmaged Texas and won by 18, they beat North Texas in a scrimmage by 26, so we knew coming in that this was going to be a really good team. They finished 29-5 last year and we couldn't have written it up any better. The one question you have coming in is you lose your two leaders in assists and you’re playing a team that last year caused the fifth or sixth–most turnovers in the country. Their defense makes you turn it over. 31 to eight – that’s a miracle.
Rico Gathers led the Bears with 18 points, to go along with 7 rebounds. Fellow senior starter Taurean Prince added 10 points and a career high 7 assists. Baylor (1-0) will hit the road to Eugene, Ore. to face the Oregon Ducks (1-0) at 10:30 p.m. CDT as part of ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon.
- Baylor is 12-1 in season openers in the Scott Drew era.
- Baylor is 44-13 all-time against the Southland Conference and 10-6 vs. Stephen F. Austin, with Baylor holding a 4-2 advantage at home.
- Drew, the program's all-time wins leader, is in his 14th season overall (249-171) and 13th at Baylor (229-160).
- Baylor's 31 assists ties for the third-highest assist total in program history.
- Baylor has made at least one 3-point field goal in 767 consecutive games - the second-longest active streak in the Big 12 (Texas). The last time Baylor did not connect from 3-point range was Feb. 21, 1990 vs. Texas Tech.
- Junior Ishmail Wainright posted a career-high in rebounds with nine boards, besting a six rebound performance against West Virginia on March 12, 2015. Wainright added eight points and six assists, both one off of matching career-high marks.
- Freshman Jake Lindsey made a strong first impression as a Bear, posting seven points on 3-3 shooting, with two rebounds, two assists, and a steal.