Ahead of the rest: Bears move to first place in Big 12

Baylor's Rico Gathers (2) and Taurean Prince (21) walk up court in celebrating in the final seconds of their second overtime against Kansas State in an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 79-72. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

By Meghan Mitchell Lariat Sports Writer

After going down early, No. 13 Baylor men’s basketball battled back to win a nail-biter at home against Kansas State, 79-72 in double-overtime Wednesday night.

With the win, the Bears improved their home winning streak to 15 games, tying the school record at the Ferrell Center. The Bears (15-3, 5-1) also took the No. 1 spot in the Big 12 standings.

The Wildcats (11-7, 1-5) came out of the gates attacking, finding holes in the Bears’ zone defense.

Although going back and forth early in the half, the Bears struggled to get anything going.

“In the Big 12 there is no easy game. I thought K-state really came out and battled, but I thought our guys did a really great job of not letting the lead get too big.” – Head coach Scott Drew

Sophomore forward Jonathan Motley was big for the Bears coming off the bench. Motley’s seven points in the first kept the Bears in it.

With the Bears missing easy shots and committing unnecessary turnovers, Drew had no choice but to call a timeout.

The Bears went down seven points with just under eight minutes remaining in the first half.

It was senior forward Rico Gathers getting an offensive rebound off of Motley’s missed free throw that led to senior forward Taurean Prince hitting a three to get things going for the Bears.

The Wildcats were forced to call a timeout as they were unable to extend their lead.

Another timeout called by Drew led to a short run to put the Bears within six to end the half, 28-34.

By just looking at the numbers, the Bears had a better game, but it was the offensive rebounds by the Wildcats that gave them the edge in the first half.

Whatever Drew told his team during the break seemed to have ignited a spark in the Bears for the rest of the game.

A dunk by Motley got the crowd on its feet, and with a buzzer-beater three-pointer by freshman guard King McClure and another by Prince, the Bears regained momentum.

With a quick 13 points, the Bears found themselves tied at 41 with the Wildcats in the second half.

A defensive rebound pushed by Prince up the court for the lay-in gave the Bears lead, 43-41.

With the Bears back in it, the Wildcats kept pushing to regain the lead.

Both teams battled to take control of the momentum, which caused several changes for the lead.

Down one, with just over a minute remaining in regulation, Drew called a timeout to set up a play that allowed Motley to lay it in to give the Bears the lead, 58-57.

Only 5.8 seconds remained in regulation. Senior guard Lester Medford was charged with a foul, which put the Wildcats at the line.

After Kansas State drained both free throws, Medford pushed the ball down court to get a good look at the basket. But Medford’s shot bounced off the rim, leaving the game tied at 59 at the end of regulation, sending the game into overtime.

“I think it was great leadership by Rico,” Prince said. “It was a place we’ve been before and we knew we just needed to get stops. Especially in the Big 12, anybody can win in any given night.”

The Bears got off to a quick start in overtime with sophomore guard Al Freeman scoring a quick layup off the jump ball.

“When I got that first layup I felt like a light was shining. I was just happy. Usually in overtime, the team that scores first gets the momentum advantage.” – Al Freeman (Sophomore Guard)

The Wildcats matched the Bears’ intensity in the first overtime period.

Freeman rose to hit another layup and a three-pointer to put the Bears up 66-64 with 17.3 seconds remaining in the first overtime period.

Again, the Wildcats tied it up to send the game into a second overtime period.

“Al hasn’t played his best basketball, but came up big at the end of the game.” – Head coach Scott Drew

The second overtime period was all in favor of Baylor, though. A drive to the basket and layup by Medford sealed the deal for the Bears to take the win, 79-72.

“I know it’s a long way to go. We are just beginning the conference race. The big thing is getting better everyday. It’s a great honor that our guys are in this position.” – Head coach Scott Drew

The Bears face Oklahoma (15-2, 4-2) 11:15 a.m. Saturday at the Ferrell Center.