Jefferson, Baylor easily dispatch Lehigh
Waco, TX – Cory Jefferson set new career highs with 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead No. 19 Baylor past Lehigh, 99-77, in the season opener for each team at Ferrell Center.
Isaiah Austin added 22 points before leaving the game early in the second half with a sprained ankle for the Bears (1-0), who are coming off a season in which they set school records for overall wins (30) and victories in the Big 12 Conference (12).
Pierre Jackson contributed 14 points and 12 assists in the victory.
"We were prepared for a good team and I think our players showed that they were ready to play. I am very pleased with a lot of the things we did," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "I was really pleased with all the new guys and how they played tonight."
C.J. McCollum netted a game-high 36 points to go with eight rebounds for Lehigh (0-1), which became just the sixth 15th seed all-time to defeat a second seed in the NCAA tournament last season by upsetting Duke, 75-70.
Lehigh opened the game with a 2-0 advantage after Baylor was charged with a technical foul for dunking during pregame warmups and later took a 7-4 advantage with a McCollum 3-pointer, but that is the last time the Mountain Hawks would hold the lead as the Bears responded with a 13-0 run to go on top for good about six minutes into the contest.
After a Stefan Cvrkalj trey and a McCollum jumper around Deuce Bello's triple closed the gap to eight, Austin reeled off five straight points to start a 12-3 spurt that stretched Baylor's lead up to 32-15.
The Mountain Hawks closed the gap to single digits on two separate occasions as they battled back to get within 51-41 at the break, but the Bears started the second half with an 8-3 push to regain their cushion and were not threatened through the remainder of the game as they gradually pulled away, leading by as much as 23 points in the final frame.
"I felt we built ourselves a pretty significant deficit at the beginning of the game," Lehigh coach Brett Reed said. "Offensively, we had some opportunities, but we were not firing at all cylinders and we could not seem to find a solution to get stops."
Baylor advanced to the Elite Eight for the second straight season in 2011-12 before getting eliminated by the eventual-champion Kentucky Wildcats ... Lehigh fell to 0-5 all time against members of the Big 12 ... It was Jefferson's second career double-double, while Jackson recorded his sixth ... It was the first-ever meeting between the teams.