WACO (AP) – Brady Heslip scored 26 points while making eight 3-pointers and Baylor hit a season-high 16 shots from long range in a 112-66 victory over Long Beach State in a first-round NIT game Wednesday night.
Heslip had three early 3s, pushing the Bears to a 16-6 lead in the first 4 minutes, when he had already made long-range shots from the left corner, left wing and top of the key.
“Just showing I could balance it out,” said Heslip, whose next 3 was from the right wing. “I love it when teams play zone. Guys made a couple of extra passes early, found me when I was open.”
The Big 12’s Bears (19-14) kept a double-figure lead after a 3-pointer by Gary Franklin, who lives about a half-hour from the Long Beach State campus, made it 23-12 with 14:25 left in the first half.
“In 30 years of coaching basketball, this is as noncompetitive as I have ever had a team,” Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said.
“Right from the start, we just stood around, and they took everything to us,” he said. “You let a team like this get into rhythm and it is going to be a long night. And that’s exactly what happened.”
Baylor shot 64 percent overall (40 of 63) and even better from long range, making 70 percent of their 3s (16 of 23). It was the highest-scoring postseason game ever for the Bears, who had seven players score in double figures.
Cory Jefferson had 15 points and eight rebounds. Taurean Prince had 14 points, Isaiah Austin 13, Franklin and Pierre Jackson 11 and Deuce Bello 10. A.J. Walton had nine of Baylor’s 31 assists on their 40 field goals.
Kris Gulley had 13 points to lead Big West regular-season champion Long Beach State (19-14), which lost for the fifth time in seven games. Tony Freeland and Keala King both scored 12 points and James Ennis had 10.
Baylor’s next game is Friday night at home against Arizona State (22-12), which beat Detroit 83-68 later Wednesday night.
With No. 1 seed Kentucky’s loss to Robert Morris, the No. 2 seed Bears could play three games at home before the NIT moves to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and championship game.
Baylor was the NIT runner-up in 2009, then made it to the NCAA regional finals two of the last three seasons.
Heslip was fouled on a 3-pointer at the end of the first half. He made two free throws for a 59-34 lead and the Bears’ highest-scoring half this season. The junior guard also had eight 3-pointers against St. John’s in November.
It was Baylor’s second consecutive lopsided win at home. The Bears ended the regular season with an 81-58 victory over Kansas, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.
“We played like a weight was off our shoulder,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “The last two games at home, we played our best games of the season. We hope that continues.”
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