No. 23 Baylor beats Louisiana-Lafayette 87-68
WACO, Texas (AP)
Kenny Chery, the new point guard for No. 23 Baylor, showed up for the postgame news conference wearing a vest and a bowtie with a backpack draped over his shoulders.
Chery is also starting to look sharp on the floor for the Bears, scoring 20 points with four assists and no turnovers in 32 minutes Sunday to help lead them to an 87-68 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette at home in an opening-round game of the Maui Invitational.
''I've never seen a player look this good ever in my career here,'' said guard Brady Heslip, sporting a long-sleeve Baylor T-shirt while checking out his fellow Canadian.
Chery's 3-pointer capped an early 15-5 run that put the Bears (3-0) ahead to stay after their sluggish start. Also in the spurt, he also had a jumper and an assist on the first of several impressive slam dunks by Cory Jefferson.
''Kenny played a tremendous game,'' Baylor coach Scott Drew said. ''Since Day 1 he's been very diligent and coachable. He doesn't try to do too much and has been a great teammate. It's hard to go 7 for 10 with 20 points, four assists and zero turnovers but he's been very good in practice and we felt comfortable that he was going to be successful.''
Chery took over as Baylor's starting point guard this year after the departure of Pierre Jackson, who was also a junior college transfer before being the Big 12 leader in scoring and assists and leading the Bears to an NCAA regional final and an NIT championship the past two seasons.
''Definitely, I'm feeling more comfortable,'' Chery said. ''The first two games, it was just about adjusting to the team, adjusting to the new level, it's totally different from junior college. Playing with those guys, I'm just going to keep working and adjusting to Isaiah and Cory and Brady, all those new guys that I'm playing with. It's so many weapons, so I'm really comfortable now.''
Heslip added 19 points in his 22 minutes while Jefferson finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Isaiah Austin had eight points on just 3-of-9 shooting, but had six rebounds and eight blocked shots.
Elfrid Payton had 20 points and Shawn Long 16 to lead the Ragin' Cajuns (2-2). Both came in averaging more than 21 a game.
Baylor plays at home again Wednesday night, against Charleston Southern, before traveling 3,700 miles to Maui for three games in Hawaii the three days leading into Thanksgiving.
In another Maui opening-round game Friday night, the Ragin' Cajuns led 60-59 with nearly 6 minutes left at Arkansas before losing 76-63. Louisiana will finish its portion of the tournament next weekend even further away from the Hawaiian Islands, with a pair of games in Conway, S.C.
The Cajuns had an early 9-3 lead after 3-pointers by Kevin Brown, Xavian Rimmer and Steven Wronkowski.
Brown penetrated inside along the baseline and then made a strong pass through the lane to Rimmer at the top of the key. That 3 made it 6-1 before the 15-5 spurt by Baylor, which missed its first four shots before Taurean Prince's dunk nearly 5 minutes into the game.
Rico Gathers had two free throws about midway through the first half to give Baylor a 13-11 lead before Chery's run-ending 3 from the corner.
J.J. Davenport, the Cajuns' 6-foot-6 325-pound center, fouled out with 13 1/2 minutes left when he got a personal foul and then a technical in the aftermath of the call.
Heslip hit both free throws and Baylor, whose 11-point halftime lead had been trimmed significantly, was back up 47-38.
Lafayette cut into that with an 8-2 run to start in the first 2 minutes of the second half. Brown swished a 3-pointer from the right wing while Long had a layup and a pair of free throws in that spurt that made it 35-30.
Lafayette never got closer. A minute later, Royce O'Neale had a pass to Isaiah Austin for a dunk before Chery then had a steal and a breakaway layup.
''We had a travel day yesterday, had a tough ballgame on Friday night against Arkansas, played well, and were actually in control of the game for 35, 36 minutes and let it go at the end,'' Cajuns coach Bob Marlin said. ''I thought Chery played a really good game. I don't know if he can play better. And, of course, Brady played good.''