WACO — There would be no repeat of last year's stunning upset, as Big 12-member Baylor dominated NCAA Division II power Tarleton State, 76-44, in exhibition basketball action at the Ferrell Center on Saturday.
Tarleton stunned Baylor in exhibition play last year, 95-85. The Bears return four starters from that team, which made the school's second straight NCAA Division I Tournament appearance, and they made it clear from the start this was not a typical exhibition and they had no plans of allowing Tarleton to stay close.
"That is a very good Baylor team," Tarleton head coach Lonn Reisman said. "They have a lot of guys back who were here last year, and it was clear tonight that they were a year older and more mature. One thing about playing Baylor is we know we won't face another team with that kind of talent all year. That said, we also know we have to play better than we did (Saturday)."
Baylor was too big underneath, outscoring the Texans 30-18 in the paint, and winning the rebounding battle, 44-35. Baylor also blocked six Tarleton shots, while the Texans blocked only two Bear field goal attempts.
Baylor shot 44.1-percent from the floor, compared to just 31.9-percent by Tarleton. The Bears hit 7 of 21 from beyond the arc, while the Texans connected on only 4 of 18.
LaceDarius Dunn led all scorers with 18 for Baylor, while Kevin Rogers tallied 15 and Henry Dugat added 12.
Eric Williams, a preseason honorable-mention All-American according to Street & Smith's Magazine, had the game's only double-double with 11 points and 10 boards for Tarleton, while Jeremiah Wilson scored 10 and grabbed 8 boards.
"It was a battle," Williams said of working in the paint against Baylor's pair of seven-footers. "I try to play with a lot of strength on the court, but it was tough out there tonight. They're really good down low."
Tarleton kept it close in the opening minutes, trailing 10-8 with 7:04 gone off the clock,but turnovers proved to be the Texans' undoing. Tarleton lost 13 possessions due to turnovers before the break, and Baylor turned them into 10 points. By night's end, Tarleton turned the ball over 23 times, while the Bears committed only 13 miscues.
The Bears took full advantage of their Division I depth advantage, outscoring Tarleton 33-9 off the bench.
"I like playing Baylor," Reisman said. "This game is very good for us, because they are able to expose our weaknesses so it becomes clear what we have to improve on in order to be successful. We certainly appreciate the opportunity to come down here. I'm not as happy as I was last year (with the win), but I'm pleased with the opportunity to play here, and I hope it was good for Baylor, too."
Reisman says his team is showing potential, but needs time to gel.
"We're still coming together as a group," Reisman said. "It's clear when you see us now that we haven't gelled together yet, and that takes time. It's important for us over the next couple weeks to improve our chemistry on the floor and to work on our continuity."
Tarleton, ranked No. 19 in the NABC D2 preseason poll, tips off the regular season schedule next Saturday when Saint Gregory's visits Wisdom Gym in Stephenville.