WACO, Texas (AP) — No. 24 Baylor coach Scott Drew already expected a tough game against an experienced opponent that won 24 games last season. The Bears were also playing without their preseason All-Big 12 forward.
Jared Butler scored 15 points, Freddie Gillespie had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and three other players scored in double figures for No. 24 Baylor, who without Tristan Clark beat Texas State 72-63 on Friday night.
“It was great for our team to win a game where there’s pressure and where we had to focus and perform in the end,” Drew said. “Hopefully, we can build on that so we can do a little bit better in the last five minutes.”
Even after Baylor (2-1) had an 18-2 run early in the second half to go ahead to stay, and led by as many as 18 points, Texas State (2-2) cut the gap to 61-55 with 4 minutes left. That was after Nijal Pearson, who finished with 20 points, converted consecutive turnovers into 3-pointers.
“They had two runs on us in the first half and second half. I was pleased with our guys making a spirited comeback on both occasions,” Texas State coach Danny Kaspar said. “But Baylor’s very good on the perimeter. We played them without Clark and I know that’s a big loss.”
Clark had a non-operative procedure on his knee this week. The junior forward was limited to 14 games last season because of a knee injury at the start of Big 12 play, but had played in Baylor’s first two games.
Texas State trailed by 13 points about eight minutes into the game before finishing the first half with a 24-11 run to tie the game at 30-all. The Bobcats scored the last eight points of the half, with four different players making baskets.
DeShawn Davidson made the first basket after halftime to put Texas State ahead before Baylor scored nine in a row to ignite that 18-2 run.
“I think a lot of inexperience once we get a lead either we get tired or we just don’t focus as much,” Drew said. “Time and score, we like to say a lot of times, but with young players it doesn’t always register.”
MaCio Teague added 12 points for Baylor, while Devonte Bandoo had 11 and Mark Vital had 10.
Caleb Asberry scored 12 for Texas State, and Marlin Davis had 11.
Butler has led the Bears in scoring in all three of their games this season. … It was Gillespie’s second consecutive double-double. … Baylor is 61-4 in non-conference home games since December 2012. … Texas State and Baylor played for the first time since November 2006. The Bears have won 10 of the last 11 matchups and lead the overall series 13-3.
Texas State: Fresh off a 24-win season, the Bobcats had eight returning players and two starters back. They showed signs of playing with the Bears, but eventually could not keep up with the more athletic Big-12 contenders.
Baylor: Even without Clark, the Bears bounced back nicely a week after blowing a 13-point lead to previously unranked Washington in Anchorage, Alaska.
“We just really focused in on what we needed to do. We locked in on defense and that turned into offense,” Teague said about their finish Friday.
Texas State goes home to play Jackson State on Monday night.
Baylor heads to Conway, South Carolina, to play in the Myrtle Beach Invitational. The Bears will play three games in four days, starting Thursday against Ohio.