By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
For the second straight year, Baylor men’s basketball had a chance to win at Kansas in the final minute. And for the second straight year, the Bears could not convert on offense down the stretch.
The Bears (12-7, 2-5) dropped to 0-15 all-time in Allen Fieldhouse with a 70-67 loss to the Jayhawks (16-3, 6-1) Saturday night in Lawrence, Kan.
With 17 seconds left, the Bears got the ball back down just one point. Senior guard Manu Lecomte put his head down, drove to the hoop and put up a contested floater off the glass that missed off the front of the rim.
The Jayhawks gathered the rebound, hit their free throws and iced another home win.
“I thought it was a good look,” Lecomte said.
Holding a 67-61 lead with 2:50 left in the game, the Bears went dry on offense, missing all five of their shots from the field.
Meanwhile, Kansas sophomore guard Malik Newman scored 11 straight points for the Jayhawks including a personal 7-0 run to put Kansas on top with 1:09 remaining.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said the Bears weren’t aggressive enough down the stretch while the Jayhawks kept attacking the basket.
“Down the stretch, they had seven free throws, we had zero,” Drew said. “I have to get us better plays that put us on the line instead of getting contested jump shots.”
The Jayhawks found the open spots in Baylor’s 2-3 zone early on, resulting in three-pointers from junior guard LaGerald Vick and senior guard Devonte’ Graham and prompting Baylor head coach Scott Drew to call a timeout just one minute into the game.
The Bears switched to a man-to-man defense, but found little success on either end of the court. Kansas senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk drove past Baylor freshman forward Mark Vital and rose up for the dunk, extending the Jayhawks’ lead to 16-3 with 15:47 remaining in the first half.
The Bears withstood the early Kansas run and held the Jayhawks to just four points in a six minute stretch to make it a 20-15 game at the 9:34 mark of the first half.
Kansas responded with an 8-2 run capped off by a transition three-pointer from Graham to take a 28-17 lead into the under-eight timeout.
The Bears scored four straight by attacking the basket, but an intentional foul by freshman guard Tyson Jolly gave Kansas sophomore guard Malik Newman two free throws to put the Jayhawks ahead 30-21 with 3:54 remaining in the first half.
A three from senior forward Nuni Omot cut the lead to just six, but free throws from Kansas down the stretch gave the Jayhawks a 38-27 lead at halftime.
Lecomte drained his first three of the night to cut the lead to seven before Kansas sophomore center Udoka Azubuike scored four straight as the Jayhawks held a 44-35 lead at the 15:49 mark of the second half.
Baylor senior center Jo Lual-Acuil, Jr. scored on a hook shot and Vital soared in for a put back on the next possession to bring the Bears within five of the Jayhawks, 44-39, with 14 minutes left in the game.
The Bears pulled within two on a jumper from freshman forward Tristan Clark, but Kansas took the momentum back on a dunk from Azubuike and a drawn charge from Mykhailiuk, leading 52-47 with nine minutes remaining.
With the Bears in the bonus, Omot stepped to the line and knocked down seven free throws in a one minute stretch to give Baylor a 56-54 lead with five minutes left in the game.
With the momentum on its side, Baylor stretched its lead to 63-59 on a three from junior guard King McClure and a jumper from Lecomte in the lane with 3:37 remaining.
Newman played hero for Kansas down the stretch, scoring nine straight points to put the Jayhawks back up 68-67 with under a minute remaining.
Lecomte said Baylor is just as good as Kansas, so it’s frustrating to continue to lose to the Jayhawks.
“It’s very frustrating because we know we are as good a team as them,” Lecomte said. “We know we can beat them. Next time we gotta make sure we keep that lead.”
Lual-Acuil, Jr. finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Newman led the Jayhawks with 24 points and seven rebounds.
The Bears look to rebound as they face Kansas State at 8 p.m. Monday at the Ferrell Center.