Behind LJ Cryer’s star power, No. 9 Baylor faces Central Arkansas


Behind LJ Cryer’s star power, No. 9 Baylor faces Central Arkansas

LJ Cryer played sparingly last season during Baylor’s run to the national championship.

This time around, though, the sophomore is getting a chance to star.

Cryer and No. 9 Baylor (2-0) will hit the court for a second straight day Tuesday as they host Central Arkansas (0-2) in an all-Bears matchup at Waco, Texas.

In Monday afternoon’s 89-60 win over Nicholls, Cryer scored a career-high 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, including 5-of-6 from 3-point range. He also had a productive game in Baylor’s season opener, knocking down 5-of-10 shots for 13 points in an 87-60 triumph over Incarnate Word.

“I’ve always been a scorer, but as far as developing my game, I feel like mentally I’ve grown a lot, just being able to flush out a miss whenever I miss, just move on from that play, just on to the next one,” said Cryer, who played in 20 games last season, averaging 3.4 points in 10 minutes per contest.

The 6-foot-1 guard scored one point in eight minutes during Baylor’s six NCAA Tournament games last spring. However, coach Scott Drew began to see a different player as his team was preparing for the current season.

“He’s been confident from the beginning,” Drew said. “He’s played well from the beginning, and we knew he was going to have a great year because he showed us that.”

While Cryer was among the stars for Baylor on Monday, teammate Kendall Brown nearly notched a double-double in his second career game, finishing with 13 points (6-of-7 from the field) and 10 assists.

As a team, Baylor recorded 33 assists on 37 field goals. However, Drew’s squad also committed 20 turnovers in a generally sloppy performance.

“It was a game with a lot of transition opportunities, and on a couple of them, you’ve got to credit their speed, athleticism, slippery floor, but probably 16 of them, we can make better passes, sharper passes, deep passes,” Drew said. “So there’s things we can improve on.”

Central Arkansas has opened the season by losing to Saint Louis and Butler by a combined 67 points. The team hung with the Bulldogs for the better part of a half in its last game, trailing 24-22 late in the opening session and heading to the locker room with a manageable 38-30 deficit.

The Bears fell apart after halftime, but coach Anthony Boone was still pleased with his team’s effort against a veteran squad.

“For 20 minutes, we looked like a Big East team,” Boone said. “And we have to continue to expand that amount of time. But I thought, overall, that first half was incredible and we’re going to look to improve on that.”

Camren Hunter averages a team-high 12 points per game, having knocked down 6-of-14 3-pointers (42.9 percent).

Central Arkansas, as a team, is shooting just 36.8 percent from the field and is averaging 17 turnovers per contest, something it will need to clean up if it has any hopes of upsetting the defending national champions.

–Field Level Media

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