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No. 19 Baylor throwing house-warming party vs. Cornell

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No. 18 Baylor looks to begin a new era and a new year on a winning note when they host dangerous Cornell on Tuesday at Waco, Texas, in the opening of Foster Pavilion, the Bears’ new $212-million arena.

Baylor (10-2) returns to the court after a 10-day break and on the heels of rebounding from two straight losses with a dominating 107-48 home win over visiting Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 22.

Ja’Kobe Walter poured in 26 points as the Bears put their stamp on victory game with an overwhelming start, hitting six 3-pointers while building a 20-0 lead over the first six minutes. The 20-point run was Baylor’s longest of the season.

Jayden Nunn and Langston Love added 15 points each for Baylor while Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua tallied a season-high 10 points. The Bears shot 67.2 percent from the floor and made 19 3-pointers, one off the program record.

“At shootaround, we didn’t make any (3-pointers) — I think we saved them all for the game,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “But it is contagious, like free-throw shooting. Seems like you’re on or you’re off. But really, the quality of the shot was good. We got 27 assists on a lot of threes that we practice in rhythm.”

The win over Mississippi Valley State closed out Baylor’s 35-plus-year run at the Ferrell Center. As of Dec. 31, the Bears had not even practiced at the new 7,000-seat capacity arena.

“There’s pressure on everyone so I know Cornell, NET-wise, will be the second-best team we faced at home,” Drew said. “So they’re very formidable opponent and somebody that it’s not just about (opening a) new arena. It’s about playing a game against a team that is very competitive. We wanted to play someone that would help get us ready for what we have in conference.”

The Big Red (10-2) head to Waco after a 77-64 home win over Colgate on Saturday. Cornell scored the game’s first 19 points and led wire-to-wire while shooting 53.6 percent from the floor.

Sean Hansen led the Big Red with 15 points while Chris Manon added 14, Guy Ragland Jr. scored 12 points and Nazir Williams hit for 11 points in the win, which gave Cornell its best 12-game start (10-2) since 1964.

The Big Red, an Ivy League team whose only losses are to George Mason and Syracuse (both on the road), runs a motion and high-post offense, with former Princeton assistant Brian Earl as head coach.

“Cornell is one of the best offenses in the country, and it’s a tough offense to prepare for,” Drew said. “They’ve got five guys who can pass, dribble and shoot, and their center is a great 3-point shooter. It’s something you don’t face all the time. It’s kind of like a triple option in football or something just different, you know, and it means you got to prepare more.”

Cornell and Baylor have never faced each other, and the Big Red has never defeated a Big 12 Conference team.

–Field Level Media

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