LAS VEGAS – Baylor assistant coach Jerome Tang is directing the Bears while head coach Scott Drew is in a 10-day isolation period after testing positive for COVID-19.
So after the second-ranked Bears let Louisiana-Lafayette score 82 points on 52% shooting Saturday, Tang said he wasn’t “a happy camper” with the defense. The message got through Sunday against Washington.
Baylor held the Huskies to 36.5% shooting, Jared Butler scored 20 points and the Bears rolled to an 86-52 victory Sunday.
“I’m a happy camper with the effort on the defensive end today,” Tang said. “I was pleased with our guys focus. I only thought we had a couple of lulls … where we let it get away from us. Other than that I thought we were pretty locked in.”
At the other end, the Bears (2-0) were certainly locked in after trouncing Louisiana-Lafayette by 30, hitting 34 of 67 (50.7%) from the floor. They shot 44.8% (13 for 29) from 3-point range.
Adam Flagler added 17 points, MaCio Teague had 15 points, and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. Mark Vital had eight points and 15 rebounds.
The Bears outrebounded Washington 50-19 and had 24 second chance points off 21 offensive rebounds. Baylor’s reserves also outscored the Huskies, 37-26.
“Forget the scoreboard, the way our guys are willing to make winning plays ... we don’t give up on plays, it really speaks to the character of the guys, that they’ve bought into being the toughest team on the court,” Tang said. “We have a saying that the toughest team wins, and I think that showed through tonight.”
RaeQuan Battle led Washington with 10 points in its opener. Erik Stevenson and Jamal Bey each had eight.
“We were just a little weak in going to the basket,” Bey said. “This group hasn’t played a lot together. It’s growing pains for sure. Coach always says if you want to be the best you gotta play the best and that’s what we did tonight.”
Washington’s top returning scorer Quade Green, who averaged 11.6 points last season, was held in check, as the Bears limited him to just two points on. Green finished 1 for 5 from the floor and 0 for 3 from 3-point range.
“He definitely was an important piece of their team we did put some emphasis on,” Flagler said about Green. “We made sure he was a pass-first type point guard. We did everything we could to make sure he was flustered and out of whack because he is the leader of this team.”
The Bears avenged last season’s loss to Washington, also in their second game of the season. Baylor led for more than 36 minutes in the game, but squandered a 13-point second-half lead and lost 67-64 in the Armed Forces Classic in Anchorage, Alaska.
Both Tang and Flagler said Drew has been involved in Zoom calls with the team while in isolation. Tang added, though, that Drew - now in his 18th season -- has let it be known if he’s a distraction at this time, he’ll stay low. Flagler said the team wouldn’t think of such a thing.
“Just because he’s away doesn’t mean he’s not here,” Flagler said. “He’s going to do everything in his power to make sure we know that he cares and wants to be here.”
Tang has been on Drew’s staff for all 18 years at Baylor and is 4-0 as acting head coach after going 2-0 in 2012-13 and 2-0 to start this season. Drew is expected to rejoin the Bears next weekend in Indianapolis, where the Bears are scheduled to play top-ranked Gonzaga. Asked if there was elixir he brings with him to the head coach’s seat, Tang replied: “Players!”
With two wins in the Vegas Bubble, the Bears should be locked into No. 2 behind top-ranked Gonzaga, setting up a 1 vs. 2 showdown on Friday in Indianapolis.
Washington: At Utah on Wednesday.
Baylor: Vs. Illinois in Indianapolis on Tuesday.