SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (BAYLOR) — Ja’Kobe Walter is the real deal.
Setting a Baylor record for a freshman in his debut, Walter scored 28 points, hitting four 3-pointers and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
But it was Jayden NunnRayJ Dennis and Yves Missi that provided all the scoring in a late 11-0 run as the 20th-ranked Bears (1-0) erased a nine-point halftime deficit to knock off the Auburn Tigers, 88-82, Tuesday night in the season opener at the Sanford Pentagon.
Another freshman, the 7-foot Missi got a breakaway dunk off a steal that gave Baylor its first lead since a midway point in the first half. Missi hit a pair of free throws, then Dennis knocked down a second-chance jumper in the lane to put the Bears up by six, 83-77.
In a matchup of deep and talented rosters, Baylor had five players score in double figures. Dennis chipped in with 15 points, Jalen Bridges had 13 points and eight boards and Missi and Langston Love had 10 points apiece.
Auburn, a Final Four team four years ago, had three double-figure scorers led by freshman Aden Holloway with 19 points. Johni Broome, a preseason All-SEC pick, had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 27.3 seconds left.
The Tigers closed the first half outscoring the Bears 25-11 over the last 10 minutes, taking a 43-34 halftime lead.
Walter, who already had 13 points at the half, scored six unanswered points in the first 40 seconds of the second half and scored 11 of Baylor’s first 13 points to help the Bears pull within four, 51-47.
Baylor returns home to host three games in a six-day stretch, facing John Brown in the “Future Bears” game at 11 a.m. Thursday, Gardner-Webb at 4 p.m. Sunday and Kansas City at 9 p.m. next Tuesday, Nov. 14.