By Nate Keil | Sports Writer
Baylor men’s basketball stumbled in its first opportunity to impress as the number one team in the country, as it fell on the road to West Virginia on Tuesday. However, it would not make the same mistake twice.
On Saturday the Bears rode a strong 26-point effort, including 18 in the second half from junior guard Manu Lecomte. Baylor shot 48% from the floor as a team, in picking up a 77-68 victory over Kansas State.
Lecomte said the team was ready to put the West Virginia loss behind them and get back to business by focusing on the Wildcats.
“Obviously we got smacked at West Virginia,” said Lecomte. “Great team and a tough place to play. But then again, the day after is all business. It is all about the next game, and we are 0-0. We knew it was going to be a tough game here against Kansas State, so we came ready.”
The Wildcats and Bears were even for 30 minutes, but after a key three-pointer from senior guard Ishmail Wainwright put Baylor on top 48-47, the Bears never relinquished the lead.
Wainwright’s strong offensive performance was imperative for the Bears as junior forwards Jonathan Motley and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. struggled to score. Motley fouled out with seven points, eight below his average, in 19 minutes and Lual-Acuil Jr. scored just six points.
Wainwright scored 15 points, connected on three three-point baskets and had a key putback dunk that put the Bears up with eight with two minutes to play.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew credits Wainwright’s work ethic during practice for his ability to make clutch plays down the stretch for the Bears.
“We were able to get some stops and get into transition and get some good looks and make a couple of threes,” Drew said. “I think Ish [Wainwright] had a huge three. Ish is somebody that has been spending extra time working, and he hit big shots for us tonight. His tip dunk was a big momentum boost, too.”
Baylor also got a strong performance from junior guard Al Freeman who scored 15 points and dished out five assists as well.
Kansas State was able to execute its game plan by attacking the zone with three-point shooting and getting the Baylor post players in foul trouble. The Wildcats connected on eight of 23 three-point attempts and had both Lecomte and Motley in early foul trouble. Despite the execution, the Wildcats ran out of steam down the stretch.
Senior forward D.J. Johnson led the Wildcats with 20 points, sophomore guard Barry Brown scored 13, freshman forward Xavier Sneed added 12 and sophomore guard Kamau Stokes finished with 10.
Johnson credits Baylor for out-executing the Wildcats down the stretch.
“We did not execute the little things,” Johnson said. “They did all of those things and that is how they got the win.”
Baylor improved to 16-1 and 4-1 in Big 12 competition. The Bears return home to take on the University of Texas in The Immortal Ten game at 6 p.m Tuesday at the Ferrell Center.