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Baylor flashes contender qualitiy in win over Cyclones

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Updated 10 months ago on
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WACO, Texas — Baylor flashed the look of a Big 12 contender for the first time this season as the 22nd-ranked Bears claimed a thrilling 74-73 victory over 11th-ranked Iowa State on Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center.

Bears guard Kenny Chery hit a jumper from just outside the lane with four seconds left to lift Baylor over the Cyclones.

After rallying back from a 14-point deficit in the second half, the Cyclones took their first lead of the game when guard Georges Niang hit a jumper with 1:54 left to put Iowa State in front 68-67. The Cyclones edged in front for the final time when guard Bryce DeJean-Jones hit a 3-pointer from the left side with 13 seconds left.

Instead of calling timeout, Baylor coach Scott Drew called a play and Chery executed it with the game on the line. With Iowa State guard Naz Long defending, Chery waited for the right moment and then struck.

“That was exactly what we were looking for,” Chery said. “It was a play Coach knew we could execute and it worked pretty well. When I saw (Long) stumble, that was really my opportunity to get the shot up. I was really confident and I took it.”

Chery finished with 13 points, including the game-winner, despite 4 of 16 shooting.

“It’s not like this was last week’s game against Kansas where he’s really feeling it and knocking down shots,” Drew said. “To hit that last shot after not being as efficient from the field as he normally is, I thought that showed a lot of poise, character and guts. With our team, there’s no one we’d rather have with the ball at the end of the game.”

After Chery’s basket, Iowa State forward Georges Niang had a look to win it with about two seconds left, but his shot bounced off the front of the rim. The Cyclones (12-3, 2-1 Big 12) came that close to coming back from a 17-point first-half deficit.

“They fought, they scratched, they did everything they could to give ourselves an opportunity to win,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Unfortunately, you look back at that start and how we got out of the gate, it’s tough to fight back from that but our guys did it.”

The Bears (13-3, 2-2 Big 12) notched their first win against a top-25 opponent this season by holding off Iowa State. In the first three games of Big 12 play, Baylor lost at Oklahoma and at home vs. Kansas, then won an ugly game at TCU on Saturday.

Forward Royce O’Neale led Baylor with 15 points, while forward Rico Gathers did plenty of work inside, finishing with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Baylor forward Johnathan Motley added 14.

Long led Iowa State with 19 points and DeJean-Jones scored 14. Nian finished with 10 points, all but one of which came in the second half.

Iowa State has to bounce back from the loss and host ninth-ranked Kansas on Saturday, but Hoiberg said he sees some positives in the Baylor contest.

“It was good to see the ball go in the basket,” Hoiberg said. “Hopefully that part of this game carries over. This is hopefully another great learning opportunity for our team.”

Baylor opened the game by making five of its first seven shots from the field and erupted for a 16-1 lead early in the first half. Even the two shots the Bears missed, they were able to grab offensive rebounds and score. The first came on a tip-in by Gathers and the other resulted when guard Lester Medford hit a 3-pointer after an offensive board by Chery.

Bears forward Taurean Prince hit Baylor’s sixth 3-pointer with 14:05 left in the first half, staking the Bears to a 22-5 lead, its largest of the first 20 minutes.

However, Iowa State battled back with a 21-6 run powered by five points apiece from forward Abdel Nader and DeJean-Jones. Long made a layup on an assist from guard Monte Morris to cut Baylor’s lead to 34-32 with 6:03 left in the half.

Iowa State couldn’t completely erase Baylor’s lead, though, and the Bears surged again before the break. Medford and O’Neale hit Baylor’s seventh and eight 3-pointers of the first half to help the Bears take a 46-34

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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