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No. 18 Baylor opens Big 12 slate at surging OK State

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No. 18 Baylor and surging Oklahoma State will look to get off on the right foot for what should be a contentious league race in Saturday’s Big 12 Conference opener in Stillwater, Okla.

The Bears (11-2) look to build on a two-game winning streak that includes a tough 98-79 home victory over Cornell on Tuesday in the first-ever contest in the new Foster Pavilion. Ja’Kobe Walter poured in 23 points while RayJ Dennis added 18 points, Yves Missi hit for 16 and Jayden Nunn scored 10 to help Baylor run away from their upset-minded visitors from the Ivy League.

Missi’s output was a career high in scoring and came on 8-for-8 shooting from the floor. For the game, Baylor canned 55.4 percent of its field goals and shot 45.2 percent (14 of 31) from beyond the arc despite having 11 days between games.

“There’s a lot that goes into first game back after 11 days, including that you haven’t played in a new arena,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “We shot a couple of days in here — I mean Cornell shot basically as much as we did. This was only my third time to be in the arena.”

The Bears built a 16-point lead at halftime that was whittled to just seven midway through the second half before closing strong and pushing their advantage to as many as 23 in the final minute.

“When you play a team like that, there’s going to be a lot of runs and there’s got to there’s a lot of ebbs and flows,” Drew said about beating Cornell. “I knew how difficult this game was going to be. Cornell deserves a lot of credit. So I know with us to good game to get us ready for conference.”

The Cowboys (8-5) have won five straight games, including a 72-53 victory at home over Chicago State on Wednesday in their final non-conference contest. Oklahoma State led by 18 points after a dominating first half and cruised to the win as Bryce Thompson scored 13 points, 11 of which came before halftime.

Javon Small had 12 and Eric Dailey Jr. added 12 points and nine rebounds in the win. Oklahoma State shot 48.1 percent from the floor but struggled from beyond the arc in the second half when they went just 2 of 13.

As it has been throughout their winning streak, defense was the difference for the Cowboys as they allowed Chicago State to make only 29 percent of its field goal attempts. Oklahoma State has surrendered 60 or fewer points in three of the past five games.

This year’s version of the Cowboys is a little more offensive-minded than in years past and has a deep bench that gives coach Mike Boynton added options.

“It’ll be interesting to see how some of the coaches in the league adjust to the way we’re playing differently as opposed to us changing,” Boynton said Wednesday. “I’m curious to see how they adjust to our team being different.”

–Field Level Media

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