Story by Jessika Harkay | Sports Writer, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Sports Director
A dominating and career-high game for senior guard Makai Mason led Baylor men’s basketball to its sixth-straight win, defeating Texas Christian University 90-64 Saturday night at the Ferrell Center.
Starting the game with identical statistics — 4-for-9 field goals and nine rebounds — TCU seemed to hold a slight advantage over the Bears as they missed their first two offensive opportunities. It wasn’t until Mason hit his first 3-pointer to give Baylor a source of momentum.
Following five lead changes within the first six minutes of the game, blocks by four different Baylor players, an early penalty from TCU’s JD Miller and shooting 6-for-11 on 3-pointers gave Baylor the opportunity to gain and maintain a lead for nearly 17 minutes of the first half.
Though trailing Baylor 39-28 into the half, TCU held an advantage in field goals with a 71 percent rate compared to Baylor’s 51 percent. Baylor countered 46 percent shooting from 3-point range with Mason leading the Bears with three makes from deep. Mason humbly credited his teammates for finding him for what he called, “easy looks”.
“I was kinda just locked in,” Mason said. “My teammates did a great job of finding me. We got some pretty easy looks. … It didn’t feel too abnormal but it was one of those nights, I guess. … [My teammates] were hyping me up the entire game. They were just wanting me to shoot.”
The third quarter opened with an explosion of Baylor offense. Mason’s big night continued as he scored seven points within the first two minutes. With Baylor’s lead increasing to 46-28, TCU was stuck in stand-still, missing free throws and unable to capitalize on their offensive opportunities.
TCU Head Coach Jamie Dixon said Mason’s success was due to having the opportunity to attempt second shots and TCU’s inability to adapt.
“It was [Mason] making the shots and finishing plays, but I think it was the second shots and a lot came from kick-outs,” Dixon said. “I think that opened it a little for them. We got down. We extended ourselves out and that didn’t work. We tried different defenses that were not very good. … We’re not good at certain things that we tried tonight in desperation down 20, and he just kept going. Obviously, he had a big night”
The Bears led 68-44 going into the last 10 minutes of the matchup. Dunks from Gillespie and Mayer in the final quarter had the over 7000 person crowd ecstatic. TCU picked up a little speed entering the final five minutes, scoring 12 points, but their defense couldn’t hold up as Baylor’s offense grew to 58.9 percent in field goals and 58.3 percent in 3 pointers. Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew said Mason’s 3-point success opened doors for the rest of the team.
“Anytime anyone has a big game it’s great because the other team has to focus on that person even more,” Drew said. “That’s what makes you a great team. When you have multiple people that can step up and have good games. You’re not going to have good games all the time. That’s why it takes a team to win. The good thing is, that attention that he gets, allows other people to have [an] opportunity.”
Mason left the rival game as the first Baylor player to score 40 points in a conference game since 1985. Likewise, the Bears have tied their longest consecutive Big 12 win streak at five after defeating the Horned Frogs 90-64.
The Bears will play the University of Texas at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Austin.