By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer
Baylor men’s basketball erased a two-point halftime deficit and fought off the Texas Christian University team to earn the 62-53 victory on the road in Fort Worth.
Scott Drew, Baylor men’s basketball head coach, said he wasn’t surprised by how challenging the game was and he’s come to expect games like the one on Saturday.
“This was typical of the Big 12. Hard-fought game; both teams played extremely hard,” Drew said. “The day after the game, it’s amazing how drained everybody is. I hope fans enjoy it, because we’re worn out.”
Junior guard Manu Lecomte led the Bears with 17 points and helped seal the win with four free throws and two key assists down the stretch. He credited TCU’s defense for keeping the pressure up the entire game.
“It’s a great team, especially defensively. They made me the work the whole game, put pressure on the ball the whole time,” Lecomte said. “It was a tough team, we knew it was going to be a grind.
Similar to Baylor’s key road win at Kansas State on Jan. 14, senior guard Ishmail Wainwright stepped up and hit the key shot of the night for the Bears. Trailing 48-47 with 4:16 left, Wainwright hit a three-pointer from the left arc that put Baylor up one. This basket sparked a 15-5 run for the Bears to help them close out TCU.
Baylor’s leading scorer this season, junior forward Johnathan Motley scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and scored two key baskets, including an emphatic dunk down in the home stretch for the Bears. Junior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. also finished in double figures, as he chipped in with 11 points.
After falling behind early, TCU was able to close the gap in the final few minutes of the first half and grabbed a 28-26 halftime lead on a three-pointer from junior guard Kenrich Williams.
Baylor opened the second half on an 8-0 run and kept TCU at a distance until the Horned Frogs took a 40-39 lead on two free throws from Desmond Bane at the 12 minute mark of the second half. The next seven minutes featured six lead changes before Wainwright’s three-pointer turned the tide for good in favor of the Bears.
Junior forward Vladimir Brodziansky and Williams did everything they could to keep the Horned Frogs in the game, as both had double-doubles. Brodziansky scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Williams scored 16 points and grabbed 12 boards. The juniors combined to shoot 12 for 26 from the field and four of 11 from long distance. They did not get much help from anyone else as the rest of the Horned Frogs shot just five of 32 from the field.
TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said he felt like his team was prepared to win, and it just didn’t go their way down the stretch.
“Obviously got some disappointed guys in the locker room, me included. Really though, we were here to win this game,” Dixon said. “We were ready to win them, and we were prepared, and we did things right, did things necessary.”
TCU falls to 14-5, 3-4 in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs take took on Oklahoma State at 6 p.m. Monday in Stillwater, Okla.
Sixth-ranked Baylor improves to 18-1, 6-1 in the conference. The Bears will host Texas Tech at 7 p.m Wednesday at the Ferrell Center.