By Jakob Brandenburg | Reporter
Baylor men’s basketball ended its first losing streak of the season with a 72-69 win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday night in Stillwater, Okla. Baylor withstood a late Oklahoma State run, and held the Cowboys 18 points below their season scoring average.
In a clash of playing styles, Baylor, which ranked seventh in the country in points allowed, faced an Oklahoma State team that was seventh in the country in scoring and riding a five game winning streak.
After losing two close games in a row, Baylor coach Scott Drew acknowledged the importance of the hard fought win in the post-game press conference.
“Anytime you get a win in the Big 12, it’s usually one-possession, and it’s usually earned,” Drew said, “so we were blessed tonight that we were able to walk away with the win.”
Junior forward Johnathan Motley once again led Baylor in scoring with 24 points and added 11 rebounds. Motley shot 9-12 from the field and 6-8 on free throws. Junior guard Manu Lecomte provided 15 points and four assists.
It was the second game of the season between the Big 12 foes. Baylor also won the first matchup, 61-57 in Waco.
Baylor began the game with a different starting lineup for only the third time this season. Sophomore guard King McClure started in place of junior Al Freeman, who was suspended for a violation of team rules and didn’t make the trip to Stillwater, Okla.
McClure finished with 10 points, including two 3-pointers, and impressed his backcourt mate Lecomte.
“King had a great game,” Lecomte said. “Not only offensively, but also on defense. He had his chance to start, and I thought he did great.”
Two minutes into the game Baylor took the lead on a jumper from junior forward Jo Lual-Acuil. Although they would come close, Oklahoma State never lead the rest of the game.
A Motley jump shot with 14:51 left gave him 1000 career points. He is the 31st player in program history to reach that mark.
Oklahoma State guard Juwan Evans described what makes Motley so hard to stop.
“He’s very difficult to match up with when you have his size and his length and it’s difficult to defend,” Evans said. “You just have to find ways to get stops on him and get help from other players.”
With six minutes left in the first half, Baylor went on a 7-0 run, courtesy of a 3-pointer by Lecomte sandwiched between Motley dunks.
However, the persistent Cowboys went on a 10-2 run that made the score 30-28 with 1:57 left in the half.
At halftime Baylor lead 34-30. After struggling offensively in its previous games, Baylor shot a very respectable 52.2 percent in the first half, while Oklahoma State shot 36 percent.
After back and forth scoring to start the second half, six points from junior forward TJ Maston and a pair of 3-pointers from sophomore guard Jake Lindsey and McClure ran the Baylor lead up to 57-44 with nine minutes left in the game.
However once again, the Cowboys wouldn’t go away, and a 3-pointer from senior Phil Forte cut the Baylor lead to six with 2:04 left. A trio of Baylor turnovers and Oklahoma State baskets made it a one point game with a minute remaining, all part of a 12-0 Cowboys run.
With 26 seconds left Lual-Acuil blocked an Evans lay-up attempt. Baylor got the rebound and Lecomte knocked down two free throws after an Oklahoma State foul.
Drew praised the team for their composure following the Oklahoma State comeback.
“Manu could have missed those free throws, but he stuck together and made those,” Drew said. “Especially after what had just occurred, we could have gotten rattled and lost this thing very easily.”
Baylor had to survive potential game tying 3-point attempts from Evans and Forte in the closing seconds to hold on to the win.
The Bears take the court again at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Ferrell Center against TCU. It is the second meeting of the season between the teams. Baylor won the first contest 62-53 in Fort Worth. The game can be seen on ESPNU.