By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
As easy as Scott Drew's 300th career win was, No. 301 might be a little harder to come by, especially if it comes in the next two weeks.
Even Friday's game didn't go like Drew wanted. The 25th-ranked Baylor Bears (3-0) streaked out to a 19-point lead in the first 13 minutes before coasting to a 78-61 win over Alcorn State at the Ferrell Center in their second host game of the Hall of Fame Classic.
"I thought for the first 12 to 13 minutes, we were really good, and then after that we weren't as efficient," said Drew, who improved to 300-191 overall, including 280-180 in 15 years at Baylor.
"Defensively, we weren't very good for the last 30 minutes of the game. But, we got the win and we got everybody healthy, and hopefully that stays that way until Monday night."
Baylor's inside-out balance was on display again, with guards Manu Lecomte and King McClure scoring 17 and 13 points, respectively, and 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil posting his fourth career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Freshman forward Tristan Clark was also impressive, shooting an efficient 6-of-7 from the field and finishing one rebound shy of a double-double with 12 points and nine boards in 25 minutes.
"I feel way more comfortable," the 6-foot-9 Clark said. "The first two games were a little shy, but today I felt real confident and just went out and played my game."
The Bears have to hope they can bottle up those first 13 minutes. They took a double-digit lead just over six minutes into the game when junior guard Jake Lindsey fed redshirt freshman forward Mark Vital for a dunk and a 16-6 lead.
With the Braves (0-4) suffering through a four-minute scoring drought, Baylor reeled off 10 unanswered points and went up 31-12 on a McClure 3-pointer with 6:54 left in the first half.
"I feel like we executed, stuck to the game plan," McClure said. "There were spurts where we could have played a little bit harder, a little bit better defense. They got too many easy shots. But, we pulled through, got a victory. Now, it's on to the next game."
Baylor improved to 54-0 all-time against current SWAC teams and somewhat quietly picked up Drew's 300th career victory.
"That's a player reward, because you can't achieve that without the players, the fans and the coaches," Drew said. "Coaches are the last ones to get excited about that. But, it's a good accomplishment for everybody."
McClure, who's been a part of about a sixth of Drew's wins, called it a "huge deal."
"Coach Drew deserves it," the junior guard said. "I feel he's the most underrated coach in college basketball. He has 300 wins, that's big-time. I'm proud of him, happy for him. Just looking forward to getting him more wins this year."
To the credit, the Braves never went away, matching Baylor point-for-point in the second half. Reginal Johnson, the Preseason SWAC Player of the Year, was 6-of-10 from the floor and finished with a team-high 14 points.
"That's a good ball team over there, No. 25 in the country," Alcorn State head coach Montez Robinson said. "For us to come in and compete the way we competed is a plus. We're working out with our heads held high and looking forward to the next opportunity to get on the court."
In a quick turnaround, Baylor will face Wisconsin (2-1) at 8:30 p.m. Monday in the Hall of Fame Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The winner of that game faces either Creighton (3-0) or No. 23 UCLA (3-0) at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
"That's tough for any team, and it's especially tough for teams that have fewer people," said Drew, who currently has eight healthy scholarship players available. "But, that's what you're going to do in the conference tournament and that helps prepare you for later down the road."