WACO, Texas (AP) — Jared Butler and Baylor’s guard-oriented lineup quickly helped ease coach Scott Drew’s usual nervousness about a season opener.
There wouldn’t be another upset.
Butler scored 30 points with a career-high eight 3-pointers, MaCio Teague had 18 points and 10 rebounds in his Baylor debut and the No. 16 Bears opened Drew’s 17th season by scoring the first 19 points on the way to a 105-61 victory over Central Arkansas on Tuesday.
“It’s a great feeling (after) last year and what happened, and how we felt going into the locker room after the game,” Butler said, referring to last year’s opening loss to Texas Southern. “Man, it’s great that we got off to a great start. I think it’s really important. But with that being said, it doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish.”
The Bears overcame several injuries and won 20 games last season, getting to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Big 12 coaches picked them this preseason to finish second in the conference behind Kansas.
Baylor’s first five baskets were scored by five different players, including transfer starters Teague and Davion Mitchell. The game began at 11 a.m. — no other college basketball game started earlier on the first day of the season — and was played before a crowd filled mostly with elementary school students.
“Won’t guarantee we’ll always shoot 55%, but when you do and you have 25 assists and you defend and rebound like we did today, obviously not a lot to be upset with,” Drew said.
Teague, a transfer from UNC Asheville who had to sit out last season, had four 3-pointers.
“I was pretty anxious going into the game. I had a little bit of trouble sleeping last night,” Teague said. “But it felt great to go out there and join the team, join my brothers and play against a different team.”
Devonte Bandoo added 15 points and Freddie Gillespie 14 for the Bears, who shot 56% overall (40 of 71) and finished with a 51-30 rebounding edge. Baylor shot 55% on 3s, the 18 (of 33) being the most in a home game and two short of the overall school record.
Rylan Bergersen, a transfer from BYU, had 17 points in his Central Arkansas debut. Eddy Kayouloud added 13 points and top returning scorer Hayden Koval had 12.
“In these Power Five games, we’ve won one … you know the reality of it. You never go into the game thinking that you don’t have a chance because basketball’s a funny game,” sixth-year UCA coach Russ Pennell said. “But I think the thing that we try to do in these games is try to find the good minutes.”
Baylor’s preseason All-Big 12 forward, Tristan Clark, had three points and four rebounds in his return after missing the second half of last season with a knee injury. Clark had two early fouls and played only five minutes in a scoreless first half. He finished 1-of-3 shooting in 16 minutes overall.
“We’ve seen in practice, he’s had moments where he was the Tristan of old and then he’s had moments where he’s still getting the rust off,” Drew said. “It’s a long process for him. He will keep getting better and better with time.”
Bandoo had 10 points in span of 1:40 in the first half. He drove for a reverse layup that made it 11-0 and drove for a dunk 15 seconds later. His consecutive 3-pointers, sandwiching the first basket by UCA, put the home Bears up 22-2.
Central Arkansas: The Bears from the Southland Conference got down so much so quick that it took time for them to settle in and just play. They do have four returning starters.
Baylor: A good start for Baylor, which had two Division I transfers in its starting lineup that had to sit out last season: point guard Mitchell (Auburn) and Teague. Clark, who was the nation’s top field goal shooter in the 14 games he played last season, will have plenty of time to get back into a groove before conference play starts.
Central Arkansas returns home to Conway, Arkansas, to play crosstown rival Hendrix College on Thursday night. Their campuses are about 2½ miles apart.
Baylor took off after the game to head to Alaska, where the Bears will play Washington at a military base Friday night.