By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
Baylor men’s basketball lost to the University of Houston 81-78 Saturday afternoon at the Ferrell Center.
The Bears hosted the Cougars in an exhibition game to raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief. Texas Farm Bureau Insurance matched the amount of money raised from ticket sales, resulting in proceeds exceeding $20,000.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said the scrimmage was put together to raise relief money and give back to the Houston community.
“That’s outstanding and that’s why we did this scrimmage,” Drew said. “I know it meant a lot to our players and staff to give back to all the people that have suffered from Hurricane Harvey.”
Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson said he appreciates the Baylor’s willingness to help out hurricane victims.
“It was good for both teams,” Sampson said. “Our program has been heavily involved with the hurricane relief effort. We’ve been able to help a lot of people. I really appreciate Scott [Drew] allowing us to come up here and do this.”
As for the game, the Cougars came out firing, jumping out to a 9-0 lead behind two baskets from senior guard Rob Gray, while the Bears missed their first three shots from the field.
The Bears picked up the intensity on both ends of the floor, putting together a 10-3 run fueled by back-to-back threes from Lecomte to cut the Houston lead to 14-12 and forcing the Cougars to call a timeout with 13 minutes remaining in the half.
Baylor senior center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. came up with his first basket of the game on a drop step move to the basket, tying the game at 17 apiece with 11 minutes left in the half.
The Bears took their first lead of the game on a made free throw by junior guard Jake Lindsey and Baylor extended the lead with a three from Lecomte and two made free throws from Lual-Acuil to take a 26-23 lead with eight minutes remaining in the first half.
Lual-Acuil knocked down 3-of-4 free throws late in the first half to tie the game at 36 going into halftime.
At the break, Lecomte led the Bears with nine points while Gray had 11 for the Cougars.
Baylor jumped out to a 43-39 lead in the second half behind a three from junior guard King McClure and a jumper from Maston, but Houston responded with a 5-0 run to take the lead three minutes into the second half.
Lecomte’s fourth three-pointer of the afternoon gave Baylor a 48-47 lead, but the Cougars attacked the rim with Lual-Acuil. on the bench to take a 52-48 lead with 13 minutes left in the game.
Lual-Acuil came back into the game and scored back-to-back buckets off of feeds from freshman forward Mark Vital to tie the game at 52 apiece with 12 minutes to go in the game.
A runner from junior guard Corey Davis Jr. put the Cougars up 61-58, but a Maston layup and two free throws from McClure gave the Bears a one point lead with seven minutes remaining.
A three-pointer from Houston sophomore guard Armoni Brooks gave the Cougars a five-point lead, but Maston responded with a deep ball of his own to make it a 68-66 Houston lead with three minutes left.
Houston senior forward Devin Davis acted as the closer for the Cougars, hitting two jumpers and taking Lual-Acuil off the dribble for a reverse layup to give Houston a 74-70 lead with 30 seconds left.
The Bears fouled to keep the game going as Gray knocked down 5-of-6 from the line to keep Houston’s lead at four with 20 seconds remaining.
Lecomte knocked down a step-back three-pointer with one second remaining to make it a 79-78 game, but Gray knocked down two more from the foul line to ice the game as Houston won 81-78.
Lual-Acuil finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, while Lecomte contributed 17 points and 10 assists on 5-for-10 shooting from three point range.
Gray picked up a double-double for the Cougars, finishing with 25 points and 11 assists while going 10-for-14 from the free throw line.
Drew said the Bears now have a basis to see what areas of the game they need to improve in order to get ready for the season.
“Playing in scrimmages this early shows us what we need to work on,” Drew said. “Playing against high quality competition and a well coached team allows us to know what areas we need to get better.”
The Bears open their season against Central Arkansas at noon on Nov. 10 in the Ferrell Center.