For the second year in a row, the Baylor Bears faced Arizona State in a nonconference game, but this time it came on Arizona State's home floor. Despite the change in venue, the result was the same, as Baylor came away with a 64-61 victory late Thursday night.
The Bears were led by senior point guard Tweety Carter, who finished with 27 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Carter was on fire from 3 point territory, where he hit on 7 of 9 attempts, many coming during a key 13-0 second half run for Baylor.
In fact, Baylor's chances looked bleak throughout much of the second half, often trailing by double digits. One of the reasons for that was another off night for star junior guard Lacedarius Dunn. Dunn, who averages 20 plus points per game, finished the night with only 7, but was able to contribute 5 rebounds and 3 key assists.
But despite Dunn's off night in terms of scoring, Baylor was able to pull out the victory with key contributions from junior forward Ekpe Udoh (10 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists), senior center Josh Lomers (7 points) and highly rated freshman Nolan Dennis (7 points), including a key jumper from the baseline with less than 4 minutes left in the game.
Dennis saw his most extended action of the season, logging 23 minutes, and he looked much more comfortable than he did early in the season. If Dennis can become a threat for this Baylor offense, and continue his aggressive play defensively, Scott Drew's job will be a whole lot easier.
The story of the game other than Tweety Carter's hot shooting comes down to defense and rebounding. Baylor held Arizona State to 40% from the floor and outrebounded Arizona State 30-18. Meanwhile, Baylor used high percentage shots on the interior more often than not to achieve nearly 60% shooting down on its end.
It's likely only a matter of time before Lacedarius Dunn works himself out of this mini-slump. If Baylor can continue its strong defensive play combined with sound rebounding numbers, and have Dunn come around, then this is a Baylor team who has the ability to be more dangerous in the Big 12 conference than the coaches of the Big 12 previously thought.
For now, the Bears have several days off as they will finish up their semester in school. They next take the court back in Waco on December 15th against Jackson State.
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