Bears send All-Stars 'down under'Nov. 13, 1998
BY MATT KUZMA
In their second and final exhibition game of the 1998 season, the Baylor men's basketball team proved they are a little readier for prime-time, as they knocked off the Australia All-Stars 97-79 Thursday night.
The Bears faced the All-Stars before a small and subdued crowd at the Ferrell Special Events Center, hoping to get the team ready for their regular-season opener against Arkansas State on Monday.
Although inconsistent at times, the Bears dominated the second half, outscoring the All-Stars 50-40 and showing some power inside. Harry Miller, Baylor's head coach, was relatively pleased with the victory, but still had reservations about his team's performance.
'There was significant improvement over the last ball game,' Miller said. 'But there are some things we're failing to do that have more to do with mental concentration and lack of mental effort.'
Although Miller said many of the lineup positions are still not solid, the one part of Baylor's team that is automatic, even at the beginning of the season, is the point guard position. Right in step with Miller's predictions in October, point guard Tevis Stukes has been nothing short of spectacular.
With 16 points at halftime, Stukes controlled the tempo of Baylor's offense, penetrating the Australia defense at will and connecting from long range. Stukes, a New Orleans junior, finished with 26 points, 13 assists, and made eight of 16 from three-point range.
Stukes left the game in the second half with an ankle sprain, but Baylor trainers said that the injury was only minor.
While his ankle was healthy, Stukes' passing ability stood out.
'When Tevis is running the floor, you better keep your eye on him, or the ball is liable to hit you in the mouth, and you won't look too good,' said center Kish Lewis.
Lewis, a Troy, Mo., senior, had a decent night as well, in his first action of the season. Lewis scored 17 points, hitting seven of eight from the floor. Although he picked up two quick fouls in the first half, Lewis found his rhythm.
'With the return of Kish, that's a lot of help,' said Stukes. 'Everybody talks about Brian Skinner not being here, but Kish Lewis brings so much to the table. He brings a positive attitude to the team.'
Even with the performance of Stukes and Lewis, the Bears were not an overpowering match for the All-Stars in the first half. After trailing 7-1 early, Australia pulled off a 12-4 run capped off by a couple of three-pointers by Kentucky native Allen McCowan. McCowan left the game just a few minutes later, injuring his leg after tripping twice on the standing advertisements on the endlines. The Australia stayed within 10 points through most of the first half, led by guard Damian Robertson, who finished with 18 points.
The Bears, however, leading 47-39 at the half, took over in the second period. Baylor opened up their offense with a few fast-breaks, and a couple of spectacular dunks from Leon Morris and Rashaan Jones.
Even with the win, Miller said the Bears will need improvement, as their next opponent, Arkansas State, won the Sun Belt Conference and went to the NCAA tournament.
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