Heslip Leads Baylor Past St. John’s 97-78
Sports Fan Insider
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Brady Heslip knows his career-best performance probably won’t make a ripple across Baylor’s campus when the team returns from the Charleston Classic.
And that’s OK with him since he’ll join the celebrations over the Bears’ football upset of Kansas State on Saturday night.
“I don’t think it’ll be calm because the football team upset No. 1,” Heslip said of the Wildcats’ ranking in the BCS last week. “We’re just happy to bring back this win, too.”
Heslip had a career-high 29 points off eight 3-pointers and No. 16 Baylor rebounded from its first loss this season to defeat St. John’s 97-78 and take third place at the Charleston Classic on Sunday.
Baylor’s two big men, Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin, had double doubles and the Bears (4-1) broke open a tight game late in the second half.
The Bears didn’t show any fatigue from staying up late Saturday night to watch the 52-24 football win over the Wildcats.
“Did they stay up? They’re college guys, when do they go to bed, that’s the question,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said with a smile. “I would just say that was a dominating performance from our football team.”
Drew’s basketball team put on a dominating show, too.
St. John’s (2-2) struggled throughout with the 6-foot-9 Jefferson and 7-foot-1 Austin. Jefferson had 20 points and a career-best 14 rebounds. Austin had 13 points and 13 rebounds, his first college double-double.
Drew says the two haven’t come close to what they might eventually accomplish.
“I think they’ve done a good job up until now, but I think we’ll get much better as the season goes on,” he said.
Combine that with Baylor’s experience in the backcourt and it could mean another deep NCAA tournament run for a team that made a deep NCAA run last season.
The Bears (4-1) lost 60-58 to Colorado on Friday and Drew wondered how his team might respond.
He needn’t have worried as Heslip took over from outside and Austin and Jefferson controlled the middle.
Heslip’s seventh 3-pointer put Baylor up for good at 69-66 with 9:36 to play. The Red Storm (2-2) closed to 73-72 on Phil Greene’s basket with 6:40 remaining, but Jefferson hit two foul shots and Baylor star Pierre Jackson scored five straight points.
Phil Greene had 24 points and D’Angelo Harrison 20 for St. John’s.
Jackson was the fourth Bears player in double figures with 19 points. Jackson’s backcourt partner A.J. Walton had the job of guarding Harrison and made it difficult for the Red Storm to find their leading scorer.
Harrison had six 3-pointers, but took only seven shots in the first 35 minutes. He did not start the game after he was late for a team bus this weekend.
Walton finished with a game-high 10 assists.
Still, this was a five-point game when Harrison’s sixth 3-pointer cut Baylor’s lead to 82-77. Walton, though, followed with a three-point play and Baylor closed things out.
St. John’s coach Steve Lavin acknowledged the rebounding problems — Baylor more than doubled the Red Storm in that category, 41-20 — but was more encouraged how his young team hung with the much taller Bears most of the way.
Lavin said he kept looking over to assistant Rico Hines and saying, “Man, those guys are big.”
Lavin said playing four games in six days to start the season may have worn out his players at the end. “But we’ll grow from this,” he said. “We need this.”
Baylor and St. John’s both came off disappointing losses that kept them from the championship game.
The Bears, matched up against a Colorado team they ousted from last year’s NCAA tournament, fell behind right before the break and could never catch up in a 60-58 loss.
The Red Storm led Murray State by seven points midway through the second half, then watched the Racers take off on a 12-0 run to move in front and hold on for 72-67 victory.
In a matchup with so many young players — 18 of the 29 players on the Bears and Red Storm rosters were underclassmen — any experience matters.
And the Bears called on that immediately. Jackson, a senior, opened with a 3-pointer while 6-foot-9 junior forward Jefferson took control of the middle.
Jefferson had nine of his team’s first 16 points, all down low and several off Bears misses.
Newcomer Marc-Antoine Bourgault got the start in place of Harrison. Once Harrison entered, though, he instantly perked up the Red Storm offense. Harrison hit three straight 3s as St. John’s went on a 19-6 run to move in front 28-19 with eight minutes left in the period.
That’s when Baylor got things going again with a 15-0 spurt. Heslip had seven points, including a four-point play, and Austin had six points in the charge.
Harrison ended the streak with his fourth 3-pointer of the half and the Red Storm tied the game at 42 on Amir Garrett’s foul shots in the final minute. But Heslip broke through for a final 3 to put the Bears ahead 45-42 at the break.
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