WACO – After a long wait, Makai Mason made his Baylor debut and what a difference he brought to the Bears.
Mason, who committed to grad transfer from Yale to Baylor before last season and then missed the first three games of this season with a foot injury, finished with 11 points, 2 rebounds, an assist and a steal as he led Baylor to a 81-54 victory over Nicholls State on Friday at the Ferrell Center.
Freshman Matthew Mayer paced the Bears in the scoring category as he finished with 18.
The game tipped off at 11 a.m. and went into the early afternoon as a special promotion in which area elementary schools brought classes to the game.
It wasn’t quite the 31 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists that Mason put up in Yale’s 79-75 victory over the Bears in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2016, but Baylor fans certainly can enjoy having Mason on their side now.
Mason brought a new energy to the floor that was missing as Baylor (3-1) struggled through the SWAC portion of its early-seasons schedule. Texas Southern defeated the Bears, 72-69, in the season-opener and Baylor’s wins over Southern and Prairie View A&M were both too close for comfort at times.
On Friday, Mason sparked the Bears from the beginning as he hit a 3-pointer from the left wing just 83 seconds into the contest. Baylor then went on a 16-3 run to take a double-digit lead. Bears freshman Matthew Mayer capped the run with a jumper that boosted Baylor to a 24-12 advantage.
Nicholls State, which shot 26.9 percent from the field in the first half, couldn’t get closer than nine points for the rest of the game.
The Bears stretched out their lead by winning the second half, 44-33.
The Bears victory over Nicholls State follows an 11-point win over Prairie Vew A&M on Monday night. Guard Jared Butler led Baylor with 22 points, King McClure added 21 and Tristan Clark provided 17 points, 7 boards and 5 blocks in the victory.
The Bears have a week off before facing Ole Miss in the first round of the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Fla., on Nov. 23.
Lady Bears 94, Southern 49: Guard Honesty Scott-Grayson scored 15 points to lead 7 Lady Bears in double figures as they eased past Southern by 45 points on Thursday night at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor center Kalani Brown missed the game with an ankle injury sustained in practice, but the Lady Bears hope to have her back as soon as next week.
In Brown’s absence, Baylor interior players Queen Egbo, Caitlin Bickle and NaLyssa Smith each scored 11 points and Lauren Cox added 10.
Baylor’s season continues with a trip to Las Vegas, Nev., next week and games against South Dakota State and Georgetown at the South Point Casino Arena.