WACO, Texas – Jackson State coach Tevester Anderson knows what to expect every time his team plays at Baylor.
And the 19th-ranked Bears are still pretty good, even after losing three post players to the NBA.
Pierre Jackson, the preseason Big 12 player of the year, scored 25 points and had seven assists while 6-9 junior forward Cory Jefferson had 14 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots to lead Baylor to a 78-47 victory over the Tigers in their season opener Sunday.
"This is our sixth time coming out here, six years in a row. And they lost a lot of guys to the pros last year, but they still have an outstanding team," Anderson said. "And they had a couple of guys who didn't even play. Three of our best players didn't play either, so we were short-handed."
With 7-foot-1 freshman center Isaiah Austin out for Baylor because of a sprained right ankle sustained after scoring 22 points in 17 minutes in the opener two days earlier, freshman post players Rico Gathers and Taurean Prince had 13 points each against Jackson State.
Gathers, making his first start with Austin out, also had 10 rebounds.
"Yeah, Rico stepped up. I honestly didn't know he was starting. You didn't either?," said Jackson, looking at Gathers for the affirmative response. "It took him by surprise, but he made the best of it and went out there and got a double-double."
Jackson scored the game's first five points — on a free throw, a jumper and a tip-in in the first 3 minutes — and the Bears (2-0) never trailed.
Jeff Stubbs had 15 points to lead Jackson State in its season opener. Willie Readus had 11 points.
Readus made a jumper midway through the first half to get Jackson State within 19-10. That's as close as the Tigers would get.
Baylor then scored 10 consecutive points, with Jackson's two free throws making it 29-10 with 6 minutes left before halftime. That spurt started when Jackson had an assist for a basket by A.J. Walton, who returned the favor with a pass to Jackson for a fastbreak layup.
Walton had a steal that led to a dunk by Gathers, who then had a diving steal at the top of the key. Gathers swatted the ball to the other end of the court, where it was picked up by Jackson for a dunk of his own.
Baylor led 40-23 at halftime, and had as much as a 34-point lead after that.
"We didn't do anything great tonight. This was our first game, and we played like a team playing its first game," Anderson said. "They got too many transition baskets. They got some blocks and they got some rebounds, and then took it in transition."
Before the game, Baylor unveiled a banner for its NCAA regional final appearance last season. The Bears had a school-record 30 victories last season while advancing to a regional final for the second time in three years.
The Bears lost four post players from last year's team, including three NBA-drafted players — Quincy Acy and underclassmen Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller.
Baylor has won all six series games against the Tigers, all coming in the last six seasons. The Bears are 43-0 all-time against SWAC teams.