By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
In college basketball, any player can have a career game at any time. Saturday was Jared Butler’s turn as the junior guard led Baylor to a 67-49 win over TCU in Fort Worth, breaking a three-year losing streak at Schollmaier Arena.
Coming off an eight-point game against Oklahoma on Wednesday, Butler didn’t know he was on the verge of a milestone, becoming the 32nd player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark with a season-high 28 points against the Horned Frogs.
“You shouldn’t have told me that,” Butler joked of the milestone. “I didn’t know that, but I guess it’s pretty cool. I don’t know how cool that is, but it’s just points.”
For the first time this season Baylor entered intermission trailing, down by one after TCU’s Mike Miles, who made 15 of his 17 points in the first half, hit a miracle shot from 60 feet out to close out the half, putting the Horned Frogs ahead 28-27. It was a tight first half as both teams started sluggish offensively. The Bears struggled to hit shots from the outside, scoring 18 points in the paint and going 1-10 in three-pointers, and were outrebounded 21-12.
“First half, when we weren’t making shots, if your team is selfish and immature then you let those missed shots affect your defense and everything else you do, and we didn’t do that,” head coach Scott Drew said. “Then, second half, shots fell and we played better. But you look at it, first half we held them to 33%, second half 33%, and that’s what good teams do. The defense is there no matter what.”
Coming out of the break, the Bears stepped up the intensity while keeping a consistent defense. Baylor sophomore guard Davion Mitchell hit a short layup to kick off a 7-0 run for the Bears to start the second half. TCU’s RJ Nembhard kept the Frogs close, making back-to-back three point shots halfway through the second half to make it a one possession game. Redshirt guard MaCio Teague, who added 12 points of his own to BU’s win, extended the lead back out to five.
Butler said that finally being able to get a shot from a distance and continued a steady defense was the difference for Baylor in the second half.
“That was big for us in our offense and the way we play,” Butler said. “We hit a three. We got some assisted threes which is big for our offense as well. And I think we still locked in from the defense and we continued the tenacious defense. They [TCU] played pretty well and made some good shots in the first half, but our ability to continue to play defense was big for us.”
The Bears began to pull away for good when Mitchell assisted Butler on a three -point shot thanks to a screen set by redshirt forward Johnathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. Butler then grabbed a rebound off a missed jumper by Horned Frogs forward Kevin Easley and passed it to Teague who then made a fast break dunk to give Baylor its first double-digit lead of the day at 52-42.
Another three-pointer by Butler, followed by a dunk by Tchamwa Tchatchoua and a final three by Teague iced the win for the Bears. Not to be outdone and learning from Wednesday’s game with the Sooners, Mitchell sprinted to the other side of the court in the final seconds of the game to make a steal and keep TCU from making one last layup.
“Every minute is important,” Mitchell said of his final steal. “I just didn’t want them to get an easy lay. I mean, we’d already won the game. I just didn’t want them to get an easy lay like [we] did against Oklahoma when they got that easy dunk.”
Although the Bears were outrebounded on both sides of the court 38-32, Baylor forced 22 turnovers, including 10 steals, and capitalized them into 19 points. It was a physical game for both teams as the Bears and TCU combined for 39 fouls, 20 of which were committed by the Bears.
“We know no game is going to be easy,” Mitchell said. “So these games are really good for us especially for the long run when those games are really hard and we’re missing shots and we still pull out the win.”
With its 11-straight win, Baylor remains undefeated and moves to 4-0 on the season and is the only team in the nation to win all of its games by 11 or more points. The Bears will return to the Ferrell Center on Tuesday to host No. 14 West Virginia, who suffered a last minute loss against the Texas Longhorns Saturday.