WACO, Texas (AP) This is the kind of advantage coach Scott Drew and Baylor have long waited to have on their home court.

“This one's unique,” Drew said. “There’s a couple of arenas where when you get done, your head feels like you were in a concert. Now ours is one of them, which is awesome.”

Ja’Kobe Walter scored 23 points and had a team-high nine rebounds, fellow freshman Yves Missi added 16 points while making all eight of his shots, and the 18th-ranked Bears christened the brand-new, smaller and much louder Foster Pavilion with a 98-79 victory over Cornell on Tuesday night.

“Lights are bright in here, the energy was good,” said RayJ Dennis, who had 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting for the Bears.

Missi scored the first points in the Bears’ new home when the 7-footer from Cameroon made a short jumper 30 seconds into their nonconference finale. After Sean Hansen made a 3-pointer on Cornell’s initial shot, Walter put Baylor (11-2) ahead to stay.

The Bears moved about a mile from the 10,284-seat Ferrell Center, where the 2021 national champions won 401 games over 35 years. They are 1-0 at the $212 million Foster Pavilion, which is part of a $700 million riverfront development in partnership between the school and the city of Waco.

“It’s a nice arena. It gets loud, sort of what kids dream of when they want to play big-time basketball,” Cornell coach Brian Earl said. “It’s a good environment and they should be proud.”

Nazir Williams had 17 points to lead Cornell (10-3). Isaiah Gray and Chris Manon each had 12 points.

Baylor had its largest lead at 70-48 when Jalen Bridges made a 3-pointer with 16 minutes left.

The Bears then missed eight shots in a row and had four turnovers in a span of nearly seven minutes while Cornell went on a 15-0 run. Six players scored for the Big Red in that spurt, with Manon's breakaway layup getting them within 70-63.

“That’s how we can play, and we weren’t that way in the first half and towards the end of the game,” Earl said. “But we like to play fast, cut through contact, make layups and and shoot open 3s. And we had it for a few minutes there and then it went away.”

Walter's 3-pointer ended the Baylor scoring drought with 9:07 left.

“It was just a regular shot that we work on in practice. I wasn’t really thinking about the run,” Walter said. “They were doing good. After I hit that shot, I think with the whole team the momentum changed and that really stopped their run, and we just kept going from there.”


Two of the better shooting teams in the nation both played for only their fourth time since Dec. 6 because of exams and holidays. The Bears hadn't played since closing out the Ferrell Center with a 107-48 win over Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 22, when they shot a school-record 67.2% from the field. They had a good shooting night (36 of 65, 55.4%) - except for that span in the second half - to open their new home in a final tune-up before Big 12 play.

Cornell, which shot 49.2% (30 of 61), missed a chance for its first 11-2 start since the 1964-65 season.


Drew and Earl are among the five active sets of brothers currently in Division I basketball. Drew's brother Bryce is the coach at Grand Canyon. Dan Earl is Chattanooga's coach.


Cornell has a week off before its Ivy League opener at home vs. Columbia next Tuesday.

Baylor plays its Big 12 opener at Oklahoma State on Saturday.


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