No. 10 MBB’s second-half effort neutralizes Wildcats in 15-point win

Baylor forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, keeps his eyes on the basketball, scoring a career-high 21 points against Kansas State on Feb. 9 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

No.10 Baylor men’s basketball bounced back with a 75-60 win over Kansas State University Wednesday night at the Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan. The Bears (20-4, 8-3 Big 12) won their seventh straight game against KSU (12-11, 4-7 Big 12) and reached 20 wins for the 13th time in the last 15 seasons.

It was a career night for junior forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua off the bench, as he posted a career-high 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting in 24 minutes to pair with six rebounds. He gained assistance from senior guard James Akinjo, who notched 15 points and dished out eight assists to go along with three steals. The only other Bear in double figures was junior guard Adam Flagler, who put up 10 points, four rebounds and two assists.

Baylor played without its leading scorer, sophomore guard LJ Cryer, and was forced to rely on some extended minutes from the rest of the guards on the roster. Other guys stepped up in a big way, with the bench scoring 38 points.

“[It was a] great win because any Big 12 one’s a good one,” head coach Scott Drew said. “Especially after the last game we played, we wanted to have a much better performance. Second half I thought we did a great job and looked a lot more like ourselves, and our bench was outstanding. Dale [Bonner] and Jon[athan Tchamwa Tchatchoua] were huge with our bench scoring 38 points, and now if we can just get LJ [Cryer] back, we’ll be back home.”

With Cryer out, junior guard Dale Bonner chipped in with nine points and four assists off the bench. Due to his minutes being increased in recent games, he said he just tries to capitalize on the opportunities he gets.

“I just have to continue,” Bonner said. “The more time, or whatever time I get on the floor, I just have to come out here and play with confidence every time.”

Baylor looked like it was going to start the game hot after a dunk from freshman forward Kendall Brown. However, that wasn’t the case, as the game remained close for the first 20 minutes of action.

Neither team could create much separation in the opening half, with the largest lead being KSU by seven. Every time it looked like the Wildcats were going to go on a big run, the Bears came back and slowed down any bit of momentum.

Baylor ended the half knotted up with K-State at 34 apiece. Brown led the way with eight points to go, along with four rebounds, one block and one steal. He had help from Tchamwa Tchatchoua, who also had eight points and grabbed four rebounds.

Both teams shot around 45% from the floor, but the difference was 3-point efficiency, as the Wildcats connected on 3-of-7 to the Bears’ 2-of-9. The first half was also sloppy at times due to the Bears’ seven turnovers and KSU’s six. The outside shooting remained successful for KSU the rest of the way, sophomore guard Nigel Pack a big part with his 31 points on 4-of-9 from deep.

Baylor came out of the intermission with energy to the tune of a 7-1 run, which forced a quick KSU timeout. This momentum eventually carried it to a 19-4 run to help stretch the lead to 15, the largest of the game. The Bears hovered around a 10-point lead down the stretch until a late Tchamwa Tchatchoua 3-pointer capped off the 15-point victory.

“Everyday Jon” was ecstatic to cap off his career effort with a 3-pointer, something he has worked to improve over the last several months.

“That was definitely fun because it was actually Flag[ler] who mentioned that I had 18 points,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “[He said,] ‘Let’s get this man two more,’ and he asked the coach to run a play to give me 20. That was definitely nice.”

Overall, Drew said the game was majorly opposite to their previous outing against the University of Kansas. He said it was an easier game due to fast break opportunities, aggression and defense.

“The whole game was easier because we’re out in transition, which allowed us to get some easy buckets. We were aggressive, which allowed us to get to the free throw line. And then we were able to on the defensive end make them work, rather than just come down and score in the first seven seconds like we saw a lot last game.”

The Bears head back to Waco in the win column for a top-20 matchup against the University of Texas, tip-off set for 11:00 a.m. on Saturday in the Ferrell Center. The game can also be watched on ESPN2. The Longhorns (18-6, 7-4 Big 12) come into this matchup with two straight ranked wins, their most recent against KU in Austin.