Taurean Prince is getting comfortable in his role off the bench for No. 7 Baylor, and contributing in a big way.
Add in sharp-shooter Brady Heslip, and these Bears have quite a scoring punch after the starting five.
Prince scored 15 of his career-high 23 points when Baylor took control before halftime and Heslip had 15 points on five 3-pointers as the Bears beat instate Big 12 rival TCU 88-62 on Saturday for their 13th straight home win.
"I know my role and play within the program. I try to find my spot and be the best teammate I can," Prince said. "We had the same three big men when I was coming in as a freshman. … I think it was a good learning standpoint for me to watch for a year. I didn’t like it, but it was all good. This year has been great."
Prince, the 6-foot-7 sophomore forward, finished 8-of-10 shooting. He had four rebounds, three on the offensive end, and had three steals.
Baylor (13-2, 1-1 Big 12) went ahead to stay with a 16-3 run midway through the first half. Prince had a pair of layups in the 5-minute spurt that Heslip capped with a 3-pointer that made it 25-14.
"He gave us a great lift," coach Scott Drew said of Prince. "But what I was most pleased was defensively he continues to improve and get better, and going to the glass. … He’s becoming a better all-around player, which is great and exciting."
Heslip started 73 of 74 games the last two seasons as the Bears went to a NCAA regional final and won an NIT championship. Off the bench this season, the senior is averaging about 11 points a game, more than he did as a starter.
"Just waiting and eager to get in there. … Once you get in there, you’re itching to contribute somehow," Heslip said. " When I come in, I’m looking to be aggressive, whether it’s making a pass or looking for my shots. So, I’m trying to embrace it."
Isaiah Austin had 14 points. Cory Jefferson had 11 points and 14 rebounds, his sixth double-double this season, while Rico Gathers had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Brandon Parrish had 16 points to lead TCU (9-6, 0-3), while Kyan Anderson had 12 and Jarvis Ray 11.
Baylor finished with a 54-25 rebounding advantage, and made all 21 of its free throws, the most the Bears have ever made in a game without a miss. And the Baylor bench outscored the TCU reserves 52-9.
"I think they just started to beat us physically," Parrish said. "They just started pounding, pounding and pounding and we started backing up and backing up."
The Horned Frogs had their last lead after Ray had five points in a minute. Ray made a layup with 15:42 left in the first half, then 6-foot-10 TCU freshman Karviar Shepherd stole the ball from the 7-foot-1 Austin. Anderson penetrated inside and passed to Ray in front of the Baylor bench for a 3-pointer from the right side and an 11-9 lead.
Baylor went ahead to stay when Jefferson made three free throws for a 12-11 lead after being fouled on a shot from beyond the arc, and Prince followed a layup.
The first half ended appropriately with Gathers putback basket after Jefferson missed a shot, putting the Bears up 51-26. Baylor already had a 30-13 rebound advantage.
TCU lost Devonta Abron, a 6-foot-8 former Arkansas transfer, and 6-10 freshman Aaron Durley for this season because of injuries sustained during a four-game trip to Canada in August. That affected the size and depth for second-year coach Trent Johnson’s team.
TCU did score eight straight points in just over a minute, but still trailed 55-35 after Amric Fields rebounded a missed free throw and made a jumper with 16 minutes left. Anderson started that stretch with a 3-pointer, before Fields had a steal that led to a layup by Anderson.
"Baylor is pretty good. Excuse me. Let me rephrase that. Really good," Johnson said. "We could never get to a point where we could put them in a situation where they got uncomfortable with any particular play or players. We got to figure this thing out where we’re playing a little better versus good people."