Baylor unable to overcome sluggish start in 90-83 loss to Kansas State

Story by Nathan Keil | Sports Editor, Video by Branson Hardcastle | Broadcast Reporter

With heavy hearts, Baylor looked to honor the memory of former Lady Bear Chameka Scott, as well as that of the Immortal Ten basketball players killed 91 years ago with a victory. However, Kansas State had its own game-plan, which they executed to perfection.

Junior guard Barry Brown led a balanced Kansas State attack scoring 34 points, including four of eight from three-point distance, leading the Wildcats to a 90-83 victory over Baylor Monday night in Waco.

Kansas State junior forward Dean Wade added 24 points as Kansas State scorched the nets to the tune of 57 percent from the field.

Baylor began both halves sluggishly, missing its first five shots from the floor in the first in falling behind by as many as 16 points. In the second, Baylor once again struggled to manifest much offense as Kansas State pushed its lead to 19 at 71-52.

Baylor head coach Scott Drew said the effort wasn’t consistent enough to get the win and the poor start to both halves helped lead to Baylor’s undoing.

“The way we started the first and second half. I don’t know if it was tired, turnaround or whatever, the bottom line was it was unacceptable,” Drew said. “You don’t get opportunities to go back and re-do things so we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. In spurts we played hard enough and competed but not long enough to win a game like this. I was disappointed in our effort.”

However, Baylor made strong runs in both halves, cutting the halftime deficit to 45-40. In the second half, through strong bursts from both junior guard King McClure and senior forward Terry Maston, the Bears cut the deficit to five at 88-83.

But in the end, it was Brown that iced the game at the free throw line, hitting all 12 of his attempts, finishing what he and Wade started from the opening tip.

Wade was the catalyst for the Wildcats’ hot start. After converting the layup through traffic, Wade continued to maneuver through the Baylor zone, finding openings at the short corner and the elbow, allowing him to knock down several midrange jumpers or drive and dish to his teammates for easy layups.

Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber said that it was his team’s ability to run the offense efficiently through Wade and Brown early in the game that set the tone for the Wildcats’s success.

“I thought the beginning was really impressive for us at both ends of the court,” Weber said. “We were really good defensively. We disrupted and took away their stuff. Obviously, we jumped on Barry [Brown] and Dean [Wade’s] backs. Those two have really evolved.”

As the half went on, it was a combination of Brown and redshirt freshman guard Cartier Diarra, who catapulted Kansas State to 35-19 advantage, knocking down four of six from beyond the arc and contributing 21 first half points.

After starting slow, missing its first five shots from the floor, Baylor began to slowly climb back in the game late in the first half. Senior guard Manu Lecomte found a way to get to the free throw line, converting all five of his attempts. Senior forward Jo Lual-Acuil knocked down a late three and finished with 11 first half points as the Bears only trailed 45-40 at the break.

Lecomte finished with 18 to lead the Bears, including 10 in the second half. Acuil added 15, freshman forward Tristan Clark had 14, McClure, 11, senior forward Nuni Omot and Maston each added 10 as six Bears finished in double figures in scoring.

For Kansas State, sophomore forward Makol Mawien finished with 11 and Diarra added 10.

Baylor won the battle on the glass, out-rebounding the Wildcats 36-20, but committed five more turnovers that Kansas State converted into 20 points.

Kansas State (15-5, 5-3) extends its winning streak to three games over Baylor dating back to its wins at the Ferrell Center and in the Big 12 Tournament last season. The Wildcats will return home to host Georgia on Saturday as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Baylor (12-8, 2-6) will travel to Gainsville, Fla. for a duel with No. 20 Florida. The game with the Gators will tip at 11 a.m. Saturday. The game will air on ESPN.