Story by Giana Pirolli | Sports Writer, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter
After coming off a 75-65 loss to Iowa State, Baylor (12-6, 2-4) was able to grind out a Big 12 win against Oklahoma (12-6, 2-4), 76-60 Monday night at the Ferrell Center.
The win was crucial considering the Bears 1-4 start in conference play and with road games against No. 10 Kansas, Florida and No. 4 Oklahoma in the next two weeks.
Freshman forward Tristan Clark’s layup helped get the Bears on the scoreboard first against an aggressive Oklahoma State team, who would then hold the Bears scoreless for the next four minutes. Junior guard King McClure’s three-pointer at the 15:54 mark and freshman forward Mark Vital’s layup at the 15:26 mark helped the Bears to gain a five point lead at 7-2.
Senior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr’s dunk, assisted by Vital with 13:29 to go in the first half, amplified the energy at the Ferrell Center making the score 9-4.
However, Oklahoma State bounced back and made the score 18-17 with Brandon Averette’s layup at the 6:56 mark. This was the first time the first half that the Bears were down and they would remain down for the rest of the half, trailing 27-26 at halftime.
Going into the second half, senior guard Manu Lecomte’s three-pointer helped the Bears gain a two point lead. Lecomte then made another three-pointer at the 14:09 mark that helped the Bears break away to a 36-32 lead.
Lecomte assisted junior guard Jake Lindsey’s three-pointer at the 13:13 mark to help Baylor gain a five point lead, making the score 39-34. Not long after, the roles reversed and Lindsey assisted Lecomte in another three-pointer.
Lecomte, who was limited to only nine points against Iowa State, scored 30 points, including seven three-pointers.
Lecomte felt confident with his performance in the team win.
“It felt really good for the team and me individually. I haven’t been shooting well the last few games, or playing well,” Lecomte said. “One thing I never do is give up because I know that everything is going to work itself out. I believe in myself and I know I’m a good shooter.”
Baylor head coach Scott Drew was pleased with Lecomte getting back into his normal rhythm.
“He also got the confidence of the team and we made sure he knew that we would only be upset with him if he started turning down shots,” Drew said. “It was really great to see him get on a roll and get hot tonight.”
Lindsey’s performance on defense– including taking charges against Oklahoma State’s offense, exemplified how much of a team effort this win was.
Vital had a game high of 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Oklahoma State’s bench had more points combined than their starting five, with sophomore forward Cameron McGriff leading the way at 16 points. Redshirt junior guard/forward Tavarius Shine followed closely with 14 points.
Baylor committed eight turnovers, four less than when it played Iowa State on Jan. 13. Oklahoma State committed 14 turnovers. The Bears also out-rebounded Oklahoma State 36 to 31.
Oklahoma State’s head coach Mike Boynton Jr. was impressed with Baylor’s tenacity, especially in the second half of the game.
“Congrats to Coach Drew and his team for playing really well especially in the second half. You could tell his team played with a since of hunger, urgency, backs against the wall,” Boynton said. “Our team, we have to get better, more consistently on the road and that starts with me. I have to be better for our team.”
Baylor plays Kansas at 5 p.m. Saturday on the road in Lawrence, Kan. Oklahoma State plays Oklahoma at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.