LJ Cryer scored 20 points for the second game in a row and freshman Kendall Brown had 19 in a 92-47 win over Central Arkansas on Wednesday night, when the homestanding Bears tied a school record with 21 steals while forcing 29 turnovers overall.
“Overall it doesn’t matter who we play, we’re always trying to lock in defensively and to be aggressive,” Brown said. “Our motto is to speed them up and have them turn it over, and that’s what we did.”
James Akinjo, a senior transfer from Arizona, had his first career double-double with 18 points and 10 assists for Baylor (3-0). Matthew Mayer had 12 points despite going 0 for 6 on 3-pointers, and made a team-high five steals. Freshman forward Jeremy Sochan grabbed 13 rebounds.
The defending national champions extended their home winning streak to an arena-record 16 in a row.
Central Arkansas coach Anthony Boone said he felt this year’s Baylor squad, even after losing three standout guards, could beat the one that cut the nets down in Indianapolis last spring.
“I would love that to be the case,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “This year’s team has got talent, doesn’t have quite the experience of last year’s team. Obviously, we haven’t gone through the rigors of the Big 12, haven’t played the meat of our non-conference schedule. … We like the possibilities and the upside of this team.”
Eddy Kayouland had 14 points for Central Arkansas (0-3), while Vincent Reeves and Darious Hall each had 10. Hall also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Baylor scored 24 points off turnovers by Central Arkansas, picked to finish last in the 12-team ASUN Conference it joined last summer.
“Baylor is really good. They are very athletic, and they got us sped up,” Boone said. “We haven’t seen that kind of pressure yet. … It was just a little bit of a shock, especially coming out in the first half.”
The first two baskets in the game were for the home Bears after turnovers by the visiting Bears in the first 90 seconds. Brown had a steal and breakaway layup for a 13-4 lead just over five minutes into the game. Cryer had a steal and a second-chance jumper after a missed dunk by Brown to wrap up a 13-0 run that stretched the lead to 32-9.
Central Arkansas: The Bears’ 17 turnovers by halftime led to 17 points for Baylor. UCA had only 17 points until Hall’s 60-foot shot he took at the buzzer — the shot clock buzzer that went off with three seconds left. That long 3 made it 43-20. … Central Arkansas is 0-4 against Baylor, with all the losses by at least 37 points.
Baylor: The Bears also had 21 steals against Iowa State on Dec. 5, 1990. … Baylor’s 16-game winning streak inside the Ferrell Center, which opened in 1988, is part of a stretch of 27 wins in 28 games at home during which the only loss was by three points to Kansas. … Cryer had his first 20-point game two days earlier in an 89-60 win over Nicholls State. “I’m feeling really good right now, but I give all the credit to my teammates for finding me when I’m getting out wide and running in transition,” Cryer said.
Baylor had 12 turnovers and shot only 24% (5 of 21) on 3-pointers.
“The 12 turnovers, we want that down in single digits,” Drew said. “It’s a lot of guys playing with each other for the first time. .. I said it was going to take some time for us to get used to playing with each other. Obviously, we prefer points over turnovers.”
Baylor guard Adam Flagler played only eight minutes. Drew said Flagler hit his hand and was kept out as a precaution. “He could have gone back in, but we didn’t want to risk it,” Drew said.
Central Arkansas: Plays home opener Saturday against Oral Roberts.
Baylor: Hosts Stanford on Saturday to wrap up a season-opening four-game homestand over nine days.