Newcomers lead Baylor over McNeese State
WACO, Texas (AP) — Deng Deng scored 16 points and Lester Medford added 13 to lead Baylor in their debuts, and the Bears beat cold-shooting McNeese State 80-39 in the season opener for both teams Friday night.
Deng, a transfer from two-year Lee College in southeast Texas, was 8 of 9 from the field. Medford, a two-time junior college All-American, made three of five from 3-point range to offset a rough night from beyond the arc for the rest of the Bears.
Bruising forward Rico Gathers had nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds for Baylor, which was unranked in the preseason despite reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 last season.
Desharick Guidry scored 11 and was the only player in double figures for the Cowboys, who shot 21 percent.
The Bears are looking for new scoring options after losing three starters who averaged in double figures on a team that lost to Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 last season.
Medford might be the answer for Brady Heslip from long range. Without him, Baylor was just 4 of 17 from beyond the arc. That included a combined 1-of-9 showing from Kenny Chery and Royce O’Neale, the two returning starters.
Deng scored three consecutive baskets, including a thunderous dunk on an inbounds pass from Chery and another dunk after a steal near midcourt, during a 14-3 run that put Baylor ahead 58-25 with 11 minutes remaining.
McNeese shot 19 percent in the first half (6 of 31), including eight straight misses over the final 7 minutes when the only points for the Cowboys came on three free throws.
Starting senior guards Keelan Garrett and Kevin Hardy were a combined 1 of 18 from the field for McNeese. Guidry was 5 of 16 on field goals and led the Cowboys with six rebounds.
Chery had nine points, five assists and four rebounds for the Bears.
McNeese: Assistant coach Steve Welch was the head coach from 1987-94. His assistant those years was current head coach Dave Simmons, who took over the program in 2006.
Baylor: The Bears were picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 in the preseason coaches’ poll, the lowest Baylor has been picked since 2010. Still, the Bears have received some votes in The Associated Press poll.
McNeese hosts Louisiana College on Tuesday.
Baylor plays at South Carolina on Tuesday.