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FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — This was more than a basketball game for No. 16 Baylor.
With a huge American flag as a backdrop behind the benches, and soldiers in the crowd on one of the nation's largest Army posts, Johnathan Motley scored 23 points to lead five Bears in double figures in a 104-59 victory over Hardin-Simmons on Wednesday night.
"Our team can't thank the soldiers and the family enough for all that they do for our country," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "This night was about having an opportunity to say thank you and hopefully give them a couple hours of entertainment. Again, we just really admire and respect what they do for our country."
When Baylor players were signing autographs after the game, soldiers thanked them for playing the game at Fort Hood. Motley responded that they were honored to be there, and thanked the soldiers for their service.
It was the first regular-season college basketball game at Fort Hood, which covers 340 square miles. More than 40,000 soldiers live on the post about an hour from the Baylor campus in Waco.
While the game was closed to the general public, but 1,600 free tickets were distributed to soldiers and their families to attend the game at Abrams Field House on the post.
"This was a tremendous privilege and honor that we were invited to be part of this event," Hardin-Simmons coach Craig Carse said. "For Coach Drew and for Baylor to take a home game away from their crowd and their fans, to step out, and it wasn't down the street — for them to do that says an awful lot.'
Fort Hood Garrison Commander Col. Todd Fox called the game an incredible opportunity for the post, and said he hoped to have more in the future.
Colors were presented by the honor guard from the Army's 1st Calvary Division.
Rico Gathers had 20 points while Al Freeman scored 12, and Taurean Prince and Jake Lindsey each had 11 for the Bears (8-1). Prince also had 10 rebounds, while Lester Medford had a career-high 13 assists.
Cameron Barnes had 11 points, while Christian O'Neal scored 10 for Division III Hardin-Simmons (6-5).
The only time the Bears were behind was after Duane Hopper hit a 3-pointer just 15 seconds into the game.
LOT OF HELPERS: Baylor set a single-game school record with 40 assists (on 45 field goals). The Bears had four players with at least five assists. "Forty assists is pretty unselfish; 74 points in the paint is tremendous," Drew said.
PLENTY OF TIME: There were only 1.5 seconds on the clock when Ishmail Wainright inbounded the ball, making an almost full-court pass over two defenders to Gathers, who grabbed the ball, turned and took one step before a buzzer-beating dunk and a 48-32 halftime lead. "At that moment I didn't know what I was going to do with the ball if I caught it," Gathers said. "But as soon as I saw it go over the guy's head I already knew what to do with it and that was to finish it."
ALLEY-OOPS: Wainright finished with nine points and seven assists, and was involved in three alley-oop plays before halftime — only one of them resulting in a dunk. After Medford's looping pass was a bit off target, Wainwright adjusted for a layup. Wainright had a similar pass that resulted in a lay-in by Motley, though the two connected later in the half for Motley's two-handed dunk.
Hardin-Simmons: The Cowboys were a Division I school until 1990, but are since 0-27 against upper-division teams. ... Forward Nathaniel Jack had three consecutive double-doubles, and five overall, before behind held to three points and five rebounds.
Baylor: The Bears have now gone 54 consecutive games without allowing 75 points, the nation's longest active such streak. Baylor is 40-14 in that stretch. ... Prince scored in double figures for the 25th time his last 27 games.
Hardin-Simmons at LeTourneau on Dec. 31.
Baylor at No. 24 Texas A&M on Saturday night.
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