Lecomte 22 points, No. 24 Baylor wins opener 107-66 over UCA
WACO, Texas (AP) — The Big 12’s top newcomer last season is off to a fast start for No. 24 Baylor. And the Bears are already going deep.
Manu Lecomte, the Belgium-born senior point guard and former Miami transfer, had six of Baylor’s 12 3-pointers while scoring 22 points to lead the Bears to a season-opening 107-66 win over Central Arkansas on Friday.
All five starters, plus Terry Maston off the bench with 14 points and 10 rebounds, scored in double figures. Baylor, an NCAA Sweet 16 team last season, set single-game school records by shooting 71 percent on 3-pointers (12 of 17) and 66.1 percent overall (39 of 59).
“First game, you never know what it’s going to be like,” coach Scott Drew said. “If you could get 85 percent from the free throw line and 66 percent from the field and 71 from 3, you probably want to end the season right there. … We really executed well offensively.”
Lecomte made four 3s in the first 9 1/2 minutes as the Bears took a 27-12 lead. Baylor never trailed after his long-range shot made it 10-8.
“I thought I had open 3s, that’s what I do. My teammates did a great job of pushing the ball and finding me,” Lecomte said. “All I do is run and spot up. I’ve just got to shoot it.”
Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., the returning 7-footer, scored 17 and had nine rebounds for Baylor. Nuni Omot, King McClure and true freshman Tristan Clark each scored 15 points.
Jordan Howard scored 22 and Mathieu Kamba had 12 points for Central Arkansas in the first meeting ever between the two teams both nicknamed the Bears.
“The second half, we got a little bit discouraged,” UCA coach Russ Pennell said. “If you don’t watch it, you start playing the scoreboard too much when you play these big teams and you’re not getting any better. I didn’t feel like the second half we got better. I thought the first half we fought it all right.”
Central Arkansas: Howard entered the season already as the school’s career leader for 3-pointers made. He added three more in the opener of his senior season, pushing his career total to 276, already 70 more than the previous mark. He is one of 12 letterwinners back from last season for the Southland Conference Bears.
“I think (Howard) played about the way we would expect him,” Pennell said. “I don’t think he got any help from his friends.”
Baylor: All five Baylor starters were among the double-figure scorers. The much bigger Bears outrebounded UCA 42-21 and dominated inside, outscoring the visiting Bears 46-28 in the paint.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons this year and we showed it today,” Lecomte said. “Inside, our guys can’t be stopped, so we’ve got to keep feeding them. Outside we’ve got great shooters, guys who can get in the lane.”
A LOT OF HELPERS
Along with the standout shooting, Baylor had 29 assists in the game. Omot led the way with nine assists. All nine players who got into the game had at least one assist.
“Very unselfish,” Drew said.
IMPRESSED BY THE HOME BEARS
“I think the length and strength of this team inside was very impressive,” Pennell said of Baylor. “And obviously when you get point guard play like you got, this has the makings of a very good team.”
Central Arkansas plays its home opener Sunday against the University of the Ozarks on Sunday before heading west to face UCLA.
Baylor plays its second of three home games in eight days on Monday night, when Texas A&M Corpus Christi travels to Waco.
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