TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Baylor will face some of the toughest road environments in college basketball when the Big 12 season starts.
After ending one of the nation’s longest home winning streaks with a dominating performance, the new-look Bears know they can win anywhere.
Makai Mason scored 22 points and Baylor dominated the glass to end Arizona’s 52-game home nonconference winning streak with a 58-49 victory at McKale Center Saturday night.
“To have this experience, get this road win is going to be huge going into conference,” said Mason, who had seven rebounds.
Baylor (6-3) overcame its second straight shaky first half with an overwhelming performance on the boards in coach Scott Drew’s 500th game leading the Bears. Baylor outrebounded Arizona 50-19 and scored 19 second-chance points on 18 offensive rebounds.
Miller criticized his team following Tuesday’s 76-73 loss to Alabama, calling it the Wildcats’ worst game of the season after they had trouble stopping the Tide in transition and cleaning up the defensive glass.
Baylor had an awful first half in an eight-point loss to Wichita State last Saturday, falling into a 33-point hole before rallying within five with 3½ minutes left.
Neither team was sharp in a disjointed first half in the desert.
Baylor had trouble shooting, hitting 8 of 29 from the field.
Arizona’s problem was boxing out, allowing the Bears to grab 13 offensive rebounds even with big man Tristan Clark limited to eight minutes due to foul trouble.
The Wildcats led 23-20 after Mason got a short jumper to roll in at the buzzer.
Baylor continued to snare rebounds over the Wildcats and found their shooting range to open the second half, making eight of its first 12 shots to build a 37-31 lead.
The Bears kept making shots and kept Arizona at arm’s length the rest of the way to pick up a huge win.
“Baylor did a good job. They outrebounded us, they were tougher than us,” said Arizona’s Chase Jeter, who had six points.
Baylor’s rebuilding project took a big step forward with a victory in one of college basketball’s toughest road environments.
Arizona’s defensive and rebounding deficiencies were exposed for the second straight game.
ZONA’S ZONE STRUGGLES
Baylor’s zone gave Arizona trouble all night. The Wildcats had a hard time getting the ball to the high post and even when they did, it rarely led to points.
Arizona also struggled from the perimeter, making 9 of 28 shots from the 3-point arc.
“We didn’t do anything well,” Miller said. “It was the first time this group played against a zone and we obviously kind of had deer in the headlights.”
Baylor hosts Oregon on Tuesday.
Arizona hosts Montana on Wednesday.
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