COLUMBIA --- Ekpe Udoh sees plenty to like in Baylor's play so far.
"We might be mentally tougher and the chemistry on this team is huge," he said.
That's not all that huge on the Bears this season, and that was apparent in Baylor's 85-74 victory over South Carolina on Saturday.
Udoh, Baylor's 6-foot-10 junior, had a career high 20 rebounds. Anthony Jones, a 6-10 sophomore, hit three of the Bears' 11 threes. Josh Lomers, one of the team's two 7-footers, went 6 of 8 from the foul line, including four in a row down the stretch to end any thoughts of a Gamecocks' comeback.
Baylor is the Division I's second tallest team with an average height of 6-6 -- only Kentucky is taller at 6-7 -- and started three players in Udoh, Jones and Lomers taller than any Gamecocks, who were undermanned.
On Friday, coach Darrin Horn had dismissed last year's top rebounder, 6-7 Mike Holmes, for repeated violations of team rules. With another starter, 6-7 senior Dominique Archie, of Augusta, lost for the season with a knee injury, South Carolina had little defense for Baylor's big bodies.
The win was the Bears (11-1) seventh in a row.
Baylor shot 11 of 17 on 3-pointers, better than South Carolina did on free throws (8 of 20).
"We focused in and got a big win," Udoh said.
The Bears (11-1) used an 18-2 run that spanned both halves to take control and held on as the Gamecocks (8-5) cut a 17-point lead to 72-63 on Devan Downey's 3-pointer with 3 minutes left.
South Carolina couldn't get any closer the rest of the way.
Gamecocks leading scorer Downey had 20 points on 6 of 25 shooting. Freshman Lakeem Jackson had a career high 19 points for South Carolina.
Downey supported Horn's decision on Holmes and said it was up to the remaining Gamecocks to pick up their play with Southeastern Conference play starting in a week. "Everybody has to have a bigger role, do a little more," Downey said.
Baylor broke free from a 25-all tie with a 13-2 the last four minutes of the opening half.