Senior forward Royce O’Neale caught fire to open the second half and No. 22 Baylor ran away from Norfolk State on Tuesday night at the Ferrell Center.
O’Neale buried five 3-pointers in the first 4:34 of the second half to break open a close game in the Bears’ 92-51 victory.
O’Neale’s flurry gave Baylor a 52-29 lead after neither team led by more than five points in the first half. The Spartans, meanwhile, missed seven of their first eight shots after the break to compound O’Neale’s hot hand.
O’Neale finished with a team-high 23 points, while Norfolk State was paced by junior guard Jeffrey Short, who also finished with 23 points.
The Bears (11-1) finished December undefeated and won their sixth consecutive home game.
The Spartans (9-6) used an 11-2 run to grab control early in the first half. Short scored six consecutive points to give Norfolk State a 14-12 advantage. Junior guard D’Shon Taylor’s 3-pointer and junior forward Rashid Gaston’s layup increased the Spartans lead to five — their largest lead of the half — before the Bears rallied.
Junior forward Taurean Prince capped a 7-0 run with a three-point play to put Baylor back on top, 23-21, at the 6:48 mark of the first half. The Bears maintained a slim lead the rest of the half before heading to the break with a 32-27 advantage — their largest lead of the half.
Baylor will open Big 12 Conference play on Saturday at Oklahoma. Norfolk State, which already has played two conference games, will play two more nonconference games before returning to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play on Jan. 10 at Florida A&M.
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