By Ben Everett | Sports Editor
Baylor men’s basketball fell 72-69 to Texas Southern in its season opener on Tuesday night at the Ferrell Center.
The Bears had a 17-point second half lead, but the Tigers finished the game on a 34-14 run to steal the win. Baylor shot 3-for-11 from the free throw line in the three-point loss. Senior guard King McClure said the Bears played like a young team.
“I feel like at times tonight we showed our immaturity,” McClure said. “Credit to Texas Southern. They played hard. It seemed like they wanted the game more than us … They were prepared. They hit big shots. Everything that could’ve [gone] wrong, went wrong.”
After giving up an alley-oop dunk to start the game, the Bears went on a 7-0 run sparked by two dunks from sophomore forward Tristan Clark. Back-to-back threes by Texas Southern senior forward Devocio Butler put the Tigers in the lead 8-7 at the 15:14 mark of the first half.
Clark continued his early dominance, scoring on a put back and a three-pointer and blocking a fast break layup attempt by the Tigers as Baylor held a 21-16 lead with 7:55 remaining in the first half.
McClure sparked the Bears’ end-of-half run, scoring 12 points, including a layup at the buzzer to give Baylor a 40-27 halftime lead.
Texas Southern senior center Trayvon Reed paced the Tigers’ offense, scoring on four alley-oops in the first half. Baylor junior guard Devonte Bandoo provided a spark off the bench for the Bears in the first half, scoring nine points highlighted by a step-back jumper and a euro-step in transition for a layup.
The Bears jumped out to a 46-30 lead at the start of the second half thanks to layups from McClure, junior guard Darius Allen and sophomore forward Mark Vital, but back-to-back threes from the Tigers made it a 48-38 game at the 15:07 mark of the second half.
The Tigers stayed in the game with the three-ball. Deep shots from Butler and senior guard Jalyn Patterson cut the Baylor lead to 59-51 with 7:32 left in the game and prompted Baylor head coach Scott Drew to call a timeout.
Texas Southern senior forward Jeremy Combs broke away from the defense for a fast break dunk late in the second half, but was called for a technical foul after hanging on the rim. Bandoo made the free throw and the Bears held a slim 65-61 lead with 3:36 left in the game.
After being held scoreless for a three-minute stretch, the Bears took a 67-64 lead on a layup from Vital with 1:17 remaining. Patterson nailed a three-pointer on an offensive rebound, and after McClure drove the lane for two, Patterson hit again from deep to give Texas Southern a 70-69 lead with 21 seconds left.
Patterson said his game-winning shot was a testament to his practice.
“I shoot every day, so it was just, ‘Keep shooting,’ just, ‘Knock it down,'” Patterson said. “I came to win so I’ve got to make big plays.”
Vital was fouled under the basket and went to the free-throw line for a one-and-one attempt, but a lane violation negated the free throw and the Bears were forced to foul. Patterson hit two free throws to make it a 72-69 game with four seconds left.
McClure pulled up for a three-point attempt in the final seconds, but came up short as the Bears fell 72-69.
Drew said the Tigers executed toward the end while the Bears did not.
“[Texas Southern] made the big plays down the stretch with the offensive rebounds and shooting 63 percent,” Drew said. “I thought we played with some first game jitters.”
The Bears will look to bounce back as they face Southern at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Ferrell Center.