DALLAS — Keyonte George scored five straight points that gave Baylor the lead for good and finished with 19 and the 11th-ranked Bears beat Washington State 65-59 Sunday night in the final game of the Pac-12 Coast-to-Coast Challenge.
George, a freshman guard who has started every game for Baylor, converted two free throws that put the Bears ahead 44-43 with 10:32 left in the second half. Following a steal by Dale Bonner on Washington State’s next possession, George hit a fadeaway three-pointer for a 47-43 lead with 9:46 to go.
“It comes with trusting my teammates and also trusting my work,” George said.
He also led Baylor (8-2) with 22 points in its win over Tarleton State on Dec. 6 when the team’s two top scorers, LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler, were sidelined by injury and illness.
Flagler added 12 points for Baylor, which came in averaging 84.6 points, 12th-best in Division I.
Jabe Mullins, back in the lineup after missing four games with a knee injury, led the Cougars (4-6) with 16 points off the bench in 29 minutes. TJ Bamba had 14 points and Justin Powell 12.
“I probably played (Mullins) too much, but he was playing really well,” Cougars coach Kyle Smith said.
STATS OF THE NIGHT
The Bears were held to one point over their season low and had 50 field-goal attempts when they were averaging 60.8. They shot 25% on three-pointers after averaging 37%.
“We’re not going to (usually) shoot 6 for 24 from 3,” Bears coach Scott Drew said. His team went in shooting 37% behind the arc.
Washington State: Will the Cougars ever be able to put their planned starting five on the court? Mullins should return to the starting lineup soon. They’ve played all season without projected starters Dishon Jackson (a center, out indefinitely with an unspecified medical issue) and forward F Andrej Jakimovski (a guard, foot injury).
Baylor: Played its first game after 11 days off, and will now play three games in 11 days. “Coming out of finals you’re always worried, long layover,” Drew said. “Are guys in shape, mentally ready to go?”
Will the Bears’ only win of the week, by six points over a team with a losing record, be enough to return them to the top 10? That would likely require voters deciding No. 6 Tennessee’s loss at No. 9 Arizona this week slots the Volunteers behind Baylor.
Bamba went in leading the Cougars averaging 16.7 points per game. He was held to three in the first half, when he shot 1 for 5 and picked up three fouls. He played much of the final 10 minutes with four fouls. … Baylor outscored Washington State 26-18 in points in the paint behind the inside play of Flo Thamba (eight points, six rebounds) and Josh Ojianwuna (seven points). … The announced crowd of 4,200 was mostly fans of Baylor, whose campus is located about 100 miles south of Dallas in Waco.
Washington State: Faces George Washington on Thursday in the first of three games at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.
Baylor: Hosts Northwestern State on Tuesday night.
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