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Men defeat MW State in exhibition, 68-59

Nov. 5, 2010

Daniel Cernero | Lariat Photo Editor
No. 22 guard A.J. Walton draws a foul from Midwestern State while driving to the basket Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010, at the Ferrell Center. Walton led the team in scoring with 14 points.

By Chris Derrett
Sports Editor

Baylor's exhibition game against Midwestern State was not pretty, and head coach Scott Drew said nearly every aspect of the team needs work. Nonetheless, the Bears pulled away in the final minutes for a 68-59 victory.

"A game like tonight gave us a chance to play the new guys under tough conditions versus being up 40. We have a lot of teaching points and a lot of areas to work on. The good thing is we'll get better as the season goes on," Drew said.

A.J. Walton led all Baylor scorers with 14 points as he started in the absence of last season's point guard Tweety Carter.

"It was a good experience. They're a good team; they pressured us the whole game," Walton said.

The pressure led to 23 Baylor turnovers, and the team also committed 23 fouls. Meanwhile Midwestern State, who made the Division II elite eight last year and is ranked No. 13 among Division II schools, suffered from 17 turnovers and 35 fouls.

The teams slogged through the first half, trading the lead five times. Three free throws from Walton gave the Bears a 35-30 advantage entering the locker room.

The trend continued before Baylor's Fred Ellis hit a jumper and put his team ahead 58-52, the largest lead for either team to that point. Ellis took a backdoor pass for another layup one minute later, and the Bears nailed another six free throws before the final buzzer.

Ellis, who did not start a game last year, played at shooting guard Thursday night. The change was a challenge, considering he has played most of his Baylor career at forward.

"One thing coach Drew always stresses is no matter what, be ready," Ellis said. "I just had to prepare my mind and try to do whatever my team needed to win."

A highly anticipated addition to Baylor's roster, Perry Jones III had six points and three rebounds in 24 minutes before fouling out with 6:31 left in the game.

Junior UCLA transfer J'mison Morgan came off the bench for a double double, tallying 13 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes. The learning process has not been immediate, Morgan said, but teammates and coaches are making it easier.

Another newcomer, Stargell Love was the only player with more assists than turnovers. While glad for the Winston-Salem, N.C., guard, Drew hopes Love will not be the only one with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio this season.

"When you look at it, you've got a sophomore point guard. You've got a freshman point guard backing him up. We'll get better in that department, but we also got a little spoiled with the veteran guard play we've had in the last four years," Drew said.

The Bears' next game, also an exhibition, tips at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 12 against Grambling State.