By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
No. 1 Baylor men’s basketball held off Kansas State after blowing an early lead for a 73-67 win against the penultimate team in the Big 12 standings. The Green and Gold got into major foul trouble throughout as three players combined for 13 personal fouls.
The Bears built up a 16-point lead in the first seven minutes of play, but that advantage was squandered after an 11-0 run led to a strong back half of the first half for the Wildcats. Baylor held serve for the last six minutes, but the damage was done as KSU entered halftime down just nine points.
Sophomore guard Jared Butler led all scorers in the first 20 minutes with 12, while redshirt-junior guard MaCio Teague and redshirt-sophomore guard Davion Mitchell each supplied seven. Junior forward Mark Vital was held scoreless but managed to grab four rebounds and three assists.
Kansas State’s comeback was led by the scoring of senior forwards Xavier Sneed and Makol Mawien who scored 10 and eight, respectively.
Baylor again jumped out to a 16-point lead in the second half, this time with just 7:50 left in the game. The Bears again let it slip away as the Wildcats stormed back to drop the lead to seven points with 1:03 left on the clock. Baylor was able to hold off KSU in the last minute, as fouls and free throw shooting pushed the Wildcats out of contention.
The Bears’ trio of starting guards combined for 48 points as the frontcourt struggled to get any momentum. Butler finished with 20 points, tied for his fourth-highest scoring output of the season and the most since he scored 22 against Kansas in early January. Teague and Mitchell rounded out the Bears in double figures with 15 and 13.
Redshirt senior forward Freddie Gillespie put up just nine points on 3-8 shooting with five rebounds, while Vital and junior forward Tristan Clark combined for 10 points on 3-5 shooting and seven total rebounds.
The Bears struggled with tacky fouls all night. Mitchell fouled out with 33 seconds remaining, and both Vital and Gillespie ended the game with four fouls in the box score.
After a quick turnaround, Baylor will get a long rest before their next game at 5 p.m. on Saturday in the Ferrell Center against Oklahoma State. The matchup will feature the top team and the bottom team in the Big 12 standings and will be aired on ESPN2 and streamed on the ESPN app.