Jan. 2, 2011
WACO, Texas (AP) - LaceDarius Dunn scored all but two of his 17 points in the second half, and A.J. Walton and Quincy Acy made key defensive plays down the stretch as Baylor held off Texas Southern 68-60 Sunday.
Acy had 16 points and eight rebounds, as well as two big blocks in the closing moments that helped Baylor (9-3) survive its first game since two losses in Hawaii's Diamond Head Classic the week of Christmas that dropped the Bears out of the AP Top 25 for the first time this season.
Walton added 13 points and a career-high seven rebounds, and forced a key turnover by Travele Jones with 48 seconds left that snuffed out the Tigers' final bid. The sophomore point guard also finished with six assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes.
Jones scored 21 points for the Tigers (2-9), who fell to 0-6 all-time against Baylor, and Lawrence Johnson-Danner had 12.
"This was just what we needed, a close game in which we were able to execute down the stretch and get some confidence," said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team had lost three of its last four. "As a coach, you don't want to go through that. You want to have that lead and not have to worry or stress. But it was good for the team, and I think will help with Big 12 play because we'll have a lot of close games."
Texas Southern led for most of the first half before Baylor used pressure defense to close the half with a 15-3 run. The Tigers stayed within range in the second half despite the Bears' 54 percent shooting. Baylor protected the ball and several times stretched the margin to seven points, but Texas Southern answered each run with 3-pointers by either Harrison Smith, Justin Ray or Jones.
Texas Southern had no answer for Baylor on the boards, however, particularly on the offensive end. The Bears scored several key baskets on putbacks in the final 10 minutes, including a pair of thunderous dunks by Acy.
"I thought we did a decent job rebounding the basketball," Tigers coach Tony Harvey said. "But when you play really good teams, you can't take a possessions off. And every time we decided we were going to take a possession off, (Baylor) made a really athletic play."
Baylor finished with a 39-35 rebounding edge, but those totals were skewed by the Bears' 17-for-30 performance at the free-throw line.
"When you're not shooting very well, you've gotta win in other areas," said Drew, who watched his team shoot a season-low 29 percent in the first half. "The offensive rebounding was critical for us, and that's important because you're not going to shoot well every night."
After holding Baylor to 2 of 12 from 3-point range in the first half, Texas Southern had a tough time defending the arc in the second. Dunn, who was 0 for 8 from long distance before intermission, extended his streak of games with a 3-pointer to 26 straight with 3 in the second half. Walton and Fred Ellis made key 3-pointers down the stretch as the Bears finished 5 for 7 on 3s after the break.
The biggest positive for Drew, however, was playing fundamentally sound down the stretch -- something the Bears failed to do in losses to Washington State and Florida State in Hawaii.
"We had four turnovers the entire second half," Drew said. "The last couple close games, we had four turnovers the last five or six minutes. So I think we really executed well at the end of the game where we took high-percentage shots. We were poised, and we didn't turn the ball over."