By Chris Derrett
Baylor could not overcome a sloppy first half and dropped its Monday night matchup at Kansas State, 69-61. Junior Quincy Acy led the Bears with 14 points, and three others finished in double figures.
Baylor shot 56 percent in the second half and drained four 3-pointers in the period, but it was not enough to get a win on ESPN’s Big Monday.
“You need to do it for two halves, not one,” coach Scott Drew said.
A second half surge from the Wildcats (14-7, 2-4) erased a brief Baylor (13-6, 3-3) lead and created a deficit the Bears could not overcome.
After freshman Stargell Love hit a 3-pointer from the corner and put the Bears ahead 30-29, Rodney McGruder answered with his own three for a 32-30 Kansas State advantage. Love hit a free throw on the other end before three consecutive Wildcat buckets capped an 11-1 run.
The final basket of the run came after McGruder dashed in from the 3-point line to snag an offensive rebound from four Bears under the rim. McGruder kicked the ball outside the arc to Jacob Pullen, who drained a trey that sent the Manhattan, Kan., crowd into a frenzy and forced a Baylor timeout.
The offensive board was one of 16 from the Wildcats en route to beating Baylor 35-26 in the rebounding category.
“That area, the rebounding, really was the most disappointing on our coaching staff’s thoughts,” Drew said.
Love was among the double digit scorers, tallying 11 points in an unexpected 18 minutes of play. The Bears called on the backup point guard after sophomore A.J. Walton picked up his fourth foul four minutes into the second half. Walton reentered the game at the 9:59 mark but lasted only nine seconds before fouling out.
“I was pleased with how he [Love] performed and pleased with his effort,” Drew said.
Love’s 18 minutes are the most he has played since starting in place of Walton in Baylor’s Nov. 12 season opener against Grambling State. His 11 points set a new career high.
“It’s all because of the coaches. The coaches teach us, coming in [to the game] to be calm,” Love said.
Just before Walton picked up foul number four, he had hit back-to-back threes to tie the game at 27 with 17:56 to go in the game.
The Bears entered the locker room down 25-18 as neither team broke the 30 percent shooting barrier. While Baylor struggled to 6 of 24, Kansas State missed seven layups as part of a 9 of 28 half.
Foul trouble also hurt the Bears, as Drew started junior J’mison Morgan in place of junior Quincy Acy for Morgan’s defensive presence. The strategy was hindered with four fouls from Morgan before the halftime buzzer.
Senior LaceDarius Dunn also had a quiet game. Dunn scored 13, tying his Jan. 17 performance against Kansas for a season-low point total.
Freshman Perry Jones III strayed from his Big 12 average 19.8 points entering Monday night and notched just 11.