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Men win season-opening blowout

Nov. 16, 2010

Daniel Cernero | Lariat Photo Editor
No. 4 forward Quincy Acy throws down a dunk in the first half against Grambling State Friday at the Ferrell Center. Acy's team-high 20 points and 12 rebounds helped the Bears start the season with a 87-52 win.

By Chris Derrett
Sports Editor

Maybe it was the 7,242 Baylor faithful in attendance. It could have been the increase in practice intensity.

Whatever it was, the Bears used it for a high-energy, 19-3 run to start their season opener against Grambling State, and behind five different players in double figures, the team cruised to an 87-52 win.

"We thank everyone for the support, and that's the direct reason why I think we got off to a start like we did," coach Scott Drew said.

The Bears won decisively despite missing its entire starting backcourt. Senior LaceDarius Dunn served the first of a three-game suspension Friday night, and for undisclosed reasons, sophomore A.J. Walton did not dress, either.

A youth-laden starting lineup, whose energy led to both crowd-pleasing plays and frustrating turnovers, came out on fire and quickly put the game out of reach.

Just 43 seconds into the game, freshman Perry Jones III threw down an alley-oop from fellow freshman Stargell Love. Veteran Quincy Acy later added another dunk, and junior transfer J'mison Morgan's rim-rocker put the Bears ahead 17-2.

"That was the goal all week after the exhibition game. Coach Drew said we came out dead. Practices were more revved up," Acy said. "We did a good job. Everybody came out focused, playing together, and it was fun."

Drew primarily used a seven-player rotation, with Acy, Jones III and senior Anthony Jones in the frontcourt, junior Fred Ellis at the 2-guard and Love making his first collegiate start at the point.

Morgan and sophomore Nolan Dennis joined the rotation, combining for 21 points.

Acy's 20 points led all scorers, and he hauled in 12 rebounds for his fourth career double-double.

Jones added 17, Ellis tallied 14, Morgan 12 and Jones III 11.

By halftime Baylor held a 41-25 lead, thanks largely in part to the dominating size up front that Acy believes will be the team's strength.

"Last year we had [Josh] Lomers and Ekpe [Udoh]; they're bigger guys. This year we have long, lean, more athletic guys. In practice there's somebody getting dunked on every day," Acy said.

Second in rebounding to Acy was Jones, with 10 on the night and four being offensive. The lean, 6-foot-10 forward averaged 4.8 rebounds last season. As part of a team emphasizing size, he has made it a goal to grab more boards in 2010-11.

"All week in practice, that's what I focused on. Coach Drew, coach [Mark] Morefield, they told me to do what I do best. That's crashing and playing with energy. Points will come," Jones said.

Jones, a 33 percent 3-point shooter last season, was also 3 of 4 from beyond the arc Friday night.

While Drew had plenty of positives from Friday night, a 23-turnover and 21-38 free throw shooting performances still leaves room for improvement. Many of the mistakes, especially the combined 13 turnovers from Jones III and Love, can be corrected with time.

"When they're getting 32 and 34 minutes, now you have enough film to show them. And they're able to grow from it," Drew said. "Quality minutes like that will definitely pay dividends down the road."

Before Friday's game, the Ferrell Center was treated to the unfurling of Baylor's Elite Eight banner signifying last season's historic run. For the players, there was both a feeling of pride and motivation.

"Elite Eight, I don't like that number. I like championship," Acy said. "The girls got that big old white and green banner. We just got the little one."

He was referring to the women's Final Four banner dropped earlier in the evening, a banner the men came within minutes of earning against Duke.

The Bears next play at 1 p.m. today against La Salle, as part of ESPN's 24-hour college basketball tipoff marathon.

Like Baylor's previous two opponents, the Explorers bring a quick, three-guard lineup. Center Aaric Murray is also a scoring threat, however, as he was 9 of 11 from the field in his team's 82-71 exhibition win over Columbia.