WACO, Texas (AP)Scott Drew was initially just trying to put together a full team of scholarship players to compete in a few games when he took over a scandal-plagued program with a decimated roster 20 years ago.
The Bears have since become consistently one of the Big 12’s best teams, and the national champions only two seasons ago now have 400 wins under Drew.
LJ Cryer scored 20 points, Adam Flagler had 13 points with 10 assists as the fifth-ranked Bears beat Northern Colorado 95-62 on Monday night in Drew’s milestone victory.
”It’s just amazing to be part of something so special, how he uses his platform to glorify God in everything he does, and how he’s taken this culture and made is so special that everybody knows about it,” Flagler said.
The Bears had been to only four NCAA Tournaments and been ranked for only two games out of 2,197 over the previous 97 seasons before Drew. They are 400-222 since, and been to 10 more NCAA Tournaments.
”First, I’ve been very blessed. God has given us great players, great coaches, great administration, great fans,” Drew said. ”When they say 400 (wins), that’s a team award, a team honor. … Our guys cherish each other, and that’s special, because nowadays it’s harder and harder to find players and teams that get excited when the team does something well.”
Baylor last season claimed a share of another Big 12 regular-season title with Kansas, which went on to win the league’s second consecutive national title. The Bears won only 21 games total in Drew’s first three seasons, one of those with only five scholarship players and another with no non-conference games. They have at least 21 victories in 12 of the past 15 seasons, and set Big 12 record with a 23-game winning streak three seasons ago.
Flagler had 3-pointers to start and end an early 13-0 run that put Baylor (3-0) ahead to stay after Northern Colorado took its only lead.
Daylen Kountz, the Big Sky leading scorer last season with 21.2 points a game, had 19 points for Northern Colorado (1-2). Matt Johnson had 14 points with four 3s, while Dalton Knecht had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Jalen Bridges, a transfer from West Virginia, added 15 points for Baylor, and true freshman Keyonte George had 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Dale Bonner also had 12 points and six steals, and BYU transfer Caleb Lohner had 10 rebounds.
Drew’s nephew Caleb Shaw, a a 6-foot-5 freshman guard, played for the visiting Bears and had averaged 13 points his first two games. With his uncle on the sideline and grandfather in the stands, Shaw finished with four points on 1-of-11 shooting.
”Caleb’s a special player. He’s going to be really good,” coach Steve Smiley said.
”The only thing that I felt bad for was my nephew,” Drew said. ”I think he was pressing. But I’m proud of the player he’s become.”
Northern Colorado: The Bears were a little closer than they were a week earlier against another top-five team, when they opened the season with an 83-36 loss at No. 3 Houston.
”Saw a lot of growth,” Smiley said. ”Offensively I was really encouraged. I was happy with the looks we got, and then also just we missed wide open layups. There’s some nerves. We’ve got four young freshmen playing along with some veteran guys as well.”
Baylor: Like they had in their first two home games, the Bears with their mix of returning guards and new players spread the minutes around while looking at different combinations. The competition level steps up significantly with ranked opponents in their next two games, away from home.
Northern Colorado is home Saturday against San Jose State.
Baylor play No. 16 Virginia on Friday night in Las Vegas, where it will then take on No. 8 UCLA or No. 19 Illinois on Sunday.
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