DALLAS (AP) — Askia Booker had one last chance to keep Colorado in the game against No. 25 Baylor. The guard’s jumper from the wing missed, like so many other shots for the Buffaloes in their season opener.
Kenny Chery scored 14 points, Cory Jefferson had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and the Bears beat cold-shooting Colorado 72-60 on Friday night.
“The fight that we had tonight, I’ll take the fight,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “We just didn’t play well enough to win this game, in various areas, not just shooting the ball.”
The late-starting final game of a tripleheader at the downtown Dallas home of the NBA’s Mavericks featured last year’s NIT champion in Baylor and a Colorado team coming off the school’s first back-to-back trips to the NCAA tournament in 50 years.
And the 9 p.m. local start seemed to show, with the teams combining to miss the first nine shots and not scoring until nearly 3 minutes in.
“We had all day to think about it and both teams were definitely nervous and had their jitters,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
Josh Scott had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Buffaloes, who shot 33 percent and went 2 of 19 from 3-point range.
Chery figures his most important job is getting the ball to Baylor’s heralded frontcourt duo of Jefferson and Isaiah Austin, but he handled his share of the scoring load in his debut.
“Try to be more of a vocal leader,” Chery, a native of Canada, said of trying to make a first impression after coming in from a junior college in Missouri. “Try to get Cory, Isaiah, everybody more touches. Just be a team guy.”
Baylor’s Brad Heslip had 12 points, all on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range, including the second of two in a row with a defender in his face that gave the Bears their biggest lead at 56-43 with 8:38 remaining.
Austin and Jefferson helped the Bears pull away after a slow start. Jefferson missed a wide-open, two-handed dunk after an offensive rebound, and Scott hit a layup to pull Colorado to 64-58 with 2:19 remaining.
Jefferson missed again on a jump hook in the lane, but Booker couldn’t hit a jumper on the other end. The Bears pushed the lead back to eight when Jefferson drove the lane and passed to Austin for a short bank shot from the left side of the lane with 47 seconds left.
Austin finished with five points and four rebounds.
The Buffs missed their first 12 shots from 3-point range before Spencer Dinwiddie finally hit one to cut Baylor’s lead to 44-38. But Royce O’Neale scored inside at the other end for the Bears, and Taurean Prince hit a shot in the lane after another Colorado miss from long range to push the Bears’ lead back to double digits.
“We never really made a run on them,” Boyle said. “Just kind of hung around, hung around. The fight was there. We battled. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
The first point of the game didn’t come until the 17:23 mark of the first half on a free throw by Austin. The Buffs missed their first four shots — three from beyond the arc — and the Bears started 0 for 5 with a pair of misses from in close.
The first basket came on a three-point play by O’Neale that put Baylor up 4-0, and Wesley Gordon got Colorado’s first field goal on a short jumper at the other end.
“So you guys stayed awake,” Drew said. “You obviously had your caffeine, so appreciate that.”
Colorado shot 21 percent in the first half, yet trailed by just two points before an 11-5 Baylor run to finish the half gave the Bears a 30-22 lead.
Chery hit a couple of jumpers and Heslip had a long 3-pointer. After a bucket from Prince, Austin made a hook shot to put the Bears up 10.
Baylor had that lead despite not having anyone with more than six points.
Dinwiddie, Colorado’s leading returning scorer, missed all four of his shots in the first half and had two points. He finished with 10, but on 2-of-12 shooting. The Buffs were 0 of 9 from 3-point range in the first half.
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