Story by Nathan Keil | Sports Editor, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter
After honoring its three student managers and five seniors—forwards Jonathan Davis, Terry Maston, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr, Nuni Omot and guard Manu Lecomte, Baylor was determined to end their Ferrell Center careers on a high note.
The obstacle in its path was National Player of the Year candidate, freshman guard Trae Young and the Oklahoma Sooners. Young torched the Bears to the tune of 44 points and nine assists in a 98-96 loss on Jan. 30.
But this round belonged to Baylor and its seniors from start to finish. Maston finished with 23 points, Acuil added 17 and Lecomte 16 as the Bears ran past Young and the Sooners 87-64 Tuesday night.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said he couldn’t have asked for anything more from his seniors on Senior Night.
“When coaches think of senior night, that’s what they think of,” Drew said. “Seniors winning, all playing well, all contributing, all being able to have a great last memory.”
The seniors combined to score 67 of Baylor’s 87 points.
Trailing 10-9 early in the first half, Baylor used a 23-3 run to seize control of the game and never looked back.
Early it was Lual-Acuil, who led a balanced offensive attack, finishing with 11 points in the first half, showing off his moves in the post. As the half went on, Maston, Lecomte and freshman forward Mark Vital got into rhythm, controlling the paint with easy baskets and frustrating Oklahoma on the defensive end. Vital and junior guard King McClure both finished with 10 points.
Despite getting in serious foul trouble early, especially Maston, who picked up his third foul at the 9:27 mark, Baylor weathered the storm and locked down on Young and the Sooners at the defensive end.
The zone defense held Oklahoma to just 20 percent shooting and five field goals in the first half. The Sooners knocked down their first three-point attempt before missing their next 11.
“We have to be careful about fouls, but we did a great job defensively,” Lecomte said. “First half, even in the second half when they were scoring, everyone was locked in. It wasn’t really about the offense today, it was about the defense. Once we got stops, we got to run in transition where we share the ball so well.”
Young had six first half points, but was just two of nine from the floor and did not hit a three in six attempts. He also committed four turnovers with just one assist in the first half as the Bears led 39-19 at halftime.
Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said that Baylor outplayed his team from the start and they were never able to recover from some early missed opportunities.
“Pretty much every phase was poor,” Kruger said. “We had some looks early that didn’t go and that bothered us a little bit. We had trouble finishing at the rim and obviously the loose balls and rebounds, Baylor clearly dominated those areas.”
Young did find more success in the second half though, finishing with 18 points, but his shot, especially from distance didn’t fall consistently. Young finished seven of 20 from the floor and two of 11 from beyond the arc with five assists and eight turnovers. Oklahoma junior guard Christian James chipped in with 14 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep the Sooners in the game.
Baylor kept the pressure on in the second half, extending its lead as Maston took control of the paint, scoring at will on the Sooners in the post. The Bears pushed their lead to as many as 30 at 79-49 following a three from Omot.
Omot finished with nine points, seven rebounds and five assists in his final game at the Ferrell Center.
In the waning minutes, Oklahoma ended the game on a 15-8 run, but the only thing the crowd cared about was Davis getting into the game. Davis entered with two minutes to go and on Baylor’s first possession, drove left on the baseline and scored in traffic, sending Baylor Nation into an absolute frenzy. Davis took another shot on Baylor’s final possession, but it missed long.
Baylor completely controlled the paint, outscoring Oklahoma 52-26 and owned the glass 44-29.
Baylor finished at 51 percent from the floor while limiting Oklahoma to 38 percent and six of 26 from distance.
Baylor (18-12, 8-9) completes the regular season with a 1 p.m. Saturday game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan.