In the final game of its non-conference slate, Baylor relied heavily upon its suffocating two-three zone defense to propel it to a 89-63 victory over the visiting Texas Southern University Tigers on Wednesday night.
“That’s how we wanted to go into Christmas, with a good feeling. In college basketball, it is hard to be on point every night with the parity in competition. That’s why there are only six undefeated teams,” said Baylor head coach Scott Drew. “I think Ish [Wainwright] and our upperclassmen have done a tremendous job making sure we are focused and on point. A couple nights ago, Texas Southern had a good chance to beat LSU in Baton Rouge. We did a good job in the second half preventing them from cutting into the lead to the point where we were in danger.”
Despite an off shooting night, junior forward Jonathan Motley paved the way for the Bears’ 12th victory of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Tigers kept it close as they reached the first media timeout, but from that point forward, Baylor began to establish its will with a 20-3 run over the next seven minutes, en route to a 40-26 halftime lead.
The length of the Bears, especially inside controlled dribble penetration from the TSU guards and made shooting over top incredibly difficult. Not only did Baylor make it hard to get to the basket, the Bears limited the Tigers to just five of 20 and one for 10 in the first half from beyond the three-point line.
“The way that Baylor plays the zone – it takes you awhile to adjust, because it’s hard to handle. They make you play slow and, not afraid, but real cautious about certain things,” said Texas Southern head coach Mike Davis. “I really like this team, and I wish them well. I think Coach Drew has done an amazing job with them.”
Offensively, the Bears seemed careless with the basketball and out of sync at times, committing eight turnovers, six in the first half. However, their size in the post and balanced attack, help the Bears maintain a potent offensive attack.
Junior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Junior forward Terry Maston added 12 points off the bench and junior guard Al Freeman chipped in with 10 points as well for the Bears.
With Texas Southern shooting the ball better to begin the second half and refusing to go away, junior guard Manu Lecomte began to heat up and find his offensive stroke, scoring eight consecutive points for the Bears. With his penetration, he also began to create opportunities for his teammates. He finished with 14 points and seven assists.
Texas Southern was much more efficient in the second half on offense, shooting 48 percent and scoring 37 points. The Tigers were led by junior guard Kevin Scott’s 15 points, all of which came in the first half off the bench. Freshman guard Demontrae Jefferson and graduate center Marvin Jones both added 10 points for Texas Southern.
Baylor now heads into the holidays 12-0 and ranked fourth in the country. They open Big 12 play on Friday on the road at Oklahoma.
“It means a lot. We needed that win to stay undefeated before the break. As Ish [Wainwright] said in the locker room, it’s a new season,” Lecomte said. “We have to come back and be ready for conference play.”
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be aired on ESPN2.