By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer, Video. by Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter
In a game with 14 ties and 12 lead changes, No. 4 Baylor men’s basketball found a way to win without junior forwards Mark Vital and Tristan Clark. The Bears defeated Texas Tech 71-68 in overtime with three Baylor players with more points than Tech’s leading scorer.
The Bears shot the ball horrifically in the first half. At 34.4% from the field, and with the Red Raiders taking nine less shots and making two more, most would expect Baylor to be in a severe deficit going into the locker rooms. Thanks to smart defense by redshirt sophomore guard Davion Mitchell and redshirt senior Freddie Gillespie, along with unparalleled offensive rebounding, the score was knotted at 30 when the buzzer sounded.
Gillespie finished the first half with seven total rebounds, including six on the offensive end. The Bears rebounded 48% of their misses before the break, and Gillespie’s total outdid Texas Tech by double.
The Bears also avoided sloppy fouls in the first half while still forcing turnovers. Baylor fouled their opponents just three times and earned 10 trips back to their side of the court thanks to a Texas Tech mistake. Tech, meanwhile, fouled the Bears eight times and forced just six turns.
After sophomore guard Jared Butler dominated the first half with 10 points, senior guard Devonte Bandoo led the Bears through the second half with an explosive 15 points. He also supplied two rebounds and two assists. Head coach Scott Drew said he wanted to send his seniors out right.
“He was on fire tonight,” Drew said. “Devonte actually likes playing 42 minutes, so he’s one of those guys that has really good endurance. He doesn’t get winded easy, and I know he really wanted to win for Senior Night too.”
The Bears failed to gain an advantage on the boards after the break as they were outrebounded by five. Baylor still managed to force nine turnovers and draw twelve fouls before heading into overtime, tied 60-60.
Baylor never trailed in the third period. Mitchell opened the scoring with a layup, then Texas Tech followed with a two-pointer of their own, but the Bears led the rest of the way. Redshirt junior guard MaCio Teague scored five of Baylor’s 11 points after scoring nine in the first 40 minutes.
Gillespie and Butler each came up with two made free throws down the stretch to finish off the Red Raiders after the team shot less than 58% from the line during regulation. Butler said it takes a special kind of heart to pull out this kind of game.
“Losing the game to TCU when we were not expecting to lose, guys are banged up, quick turnaround, and it just takes mental toughness,” Butler said. “There’s nothing you can draw up for us to win. There’s no gameplan, nothing like that. It’s just the will to win. That’s what you saw.”
The Bears will face West Virginia on the road for the final game of the regular season at 12 p.m. Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va.