By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Looking to avoid an 0-2 start to open Big 12 conference play, Baylor overcame a 12 point second half deficit before falling 81-78 to No. 16 TCU at the Ferrell Center Tuesday night.
The Bears forced overtime when junior guard Jake Lindsey penetrated and converted a nifty spin move and finish with the left hand to tie the game at 64 apiece. The drive came after TCU was awarded possession following a loose ball, but the call was reversed providing Lindsey the opportunity to play the hero.
In overtime, it was senior forward Vladimir Brodziansky’s three-pointer that put the Horned Frogs up for good at 75-74. TCU held off Baylor with two free throws from sophomore guard Jaylen Fisher, and a breakaway dunk from redshirt freshman forward Kouat Noi.
Senior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. returned to the lineup after missing Friday’s lopsided loss to Texas Tech with a foot injury to lead the Bears with 28 points and 20 rebounds. Fellow senior forward Terry Maston, in just his second game back from a hand injury that forced him to miss six games, scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds while shooting 10 of 15 from the floor, providing positive signs for Baylor moving forward.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said that his team’s effort on the glass, winning the battle 45-34 was much better than it was against the Red Raiders and that effort started with his two big men.
“We rebounded much better than we did the last game, and that kept us in it in the first half. They gave us the inside; Joe and TJ did a really good job being efficient,” Drew said.
Outside the two senior big men, it was tough going for the Bears. The backcourt duo of senior guard Manu Lecomte and junior guard King McClure had difficulty finding the range all night as their shooting numbers resembled the frigid Waco temperatures outside.
Lecomte, who leads the team in scoring at 17 points per game, scored eight points while shooting just one for 11 from the floor and hitting just one of five from beyond the arc, the only three by the Bears against TCU. McClure failed to score, missing all six of his shot attempts in 22 minutes.
TCU was also looking to rebound from a tough 90-89 home loss to No. 7 Oklahoma on Saturday in which the Horned Frogs squandered a 13 point second half lead against the Sooners.
TCU got off to a good start in the first half, using an 11-0 run to break the 16-16 tie and jump ahead 27-16. Fisher was the catalyst for the Horned Frogs, scoring nine points while connecting on both of his three-point attempts.
But Baylor would close the gap to eight at 36-28 after a tip in from Lual-Acuil Jr. to end the half.
In the second half, Baylor looked like a different team and it started on the defensive end for the Bears. After playing mostly man-to-man defense in the first half, the Bears switched back to their zone, disrupting the flow of TCU’s offense.
The increased defensive pressure helped fuel a 14-0 run to grab a 49-46 lead giving the Horned Frogs a sense of déjà vu. During the run it was the combination of Maston and Lual-Acuil that did most of the damage. It was also the energy of reserve freshman forward Mark Vital, who grabbed rebounds and contributed four points during the stretch.
After a three from sophomore guard Desmond Bane tied the game at 49, the game went back and forth with junior forward JD Miller’s third basket in the final three minutes of regulation put TCU in front 64-62 setting the stage for Lindsey’s dramatic finish at the rim.
Miller said he was the beneficiary of TCU head coach Jamie Dixon’s play calling down the stretch and that he was fortunate to take advantage of it.
“Coach emphasized during timeout to go inside out. You know, we have to go inside the scorer and that’s what we did down the stretch and at the end,” Miller said.
After a slow start, Brodziansky, finished with 18 points, 14 of them coming in the second and overtime for TCU. Fisher added 15 points, Miller 13, senior guard Kenrich Williams had 12 and Bane chipped in with 10. Noi contributed nine points off the bench as well.
Lual-Acuil said the Bears can’t afford to linger on the loss, but keep looking to the next opportunity.
“I’m disappointed we lost. We just got to move on to the next one,” Lual-Acuil said.
TCU improves to 13-1 and 1-1 in Big 12 play. The Horned Frogs will host No. 10 Kansas at 8:15 Saturday.
Baylor (10-4, 0-2) looks for its first conference win when it hosts Texas at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Ferrell Center.