Baylor had little trouble bouncing back from its first loss of the season.
Its next opponent figures to pose a much stiffer challenge.
The No. 15 Bears seek a second straight victory in Honolulu on Thursday when they face Washington State in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic.
Baylor (8-1) rolled through the first month of its schedule, winning its first seven games by an average of nearly 25 points, before hitting a roadblock Dec. 18 and losing 68-64 to perennial West Coast Conference stalwart Gonzaga. The Bears faced another WCC school Wednesday in their Honolulu opener with a far different result.
Baylor dominated San Diego throughout, racing to an 18-3 lead en route to an 83-50 victory. Playing with a large lead throughout, the Bears placed five players in double figures and had nine players amass at least 13 minutes of playing time.
“We want to be a great team, so we can’t afford to lose two in a row, so hopefully this win builds our confidence back up,” said freshman center Perry Jones, who had 11 points and six rebounds. “We played way better than we did against Gonzaga, I think that loss was motivation for us.”
The Cougars (9-1) also played way better against Gonzaga than Baylor did. Washington State beat the Bulldogs handily, shooting 50 percent overall and going 11 for 21 from 3-point range in an 81-59 home win Dec. 8.
“We know Washington State is a great team. Gonzaga beat us and they blew out Gonzaga, so we know we have our hands full and we know what they’re capable of and they might be the best team in the Pac-10,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
If Drew’s team performs the way it did Wednesday, it may be up to the task. The Bears controlled all facets of the game, shooting 55 percent, forcing 18 turnovers and outrebounding the Toreros 42-26. Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones each scored 14 points, LaceDarius Dunn added 13 and Nolan Dennis had 10 off the bench.
The Cougars are led by Klay Thompson, a sharp-shooting junior guard averaging a Pac-10-best 21.7 points. Thompson, who has 15 points or more in each game this season, had 28 on Wednesday as Washington State rolled past Mississippi State 83-57 in its opener in Honolulu.
Faisal Aden added 20 points in a reserve role for the Cougars, who won their fourth straight - all by double digits - since suffering their only loss, 63-58 to then-No. 5 Kansas State on Dec. 3.
Baylor is 1-2 all-time against Washington State but won the most recent meeting, 58-52 in Pullman on Dec. 6, 2008. Dunn had 24 points off the bench to lead the Bears.
Then a freshman, Thompson started but wasn’t a major factor, finishing with four points and eventually fouling out.