No. 7 MBB routes TCU back up I-35

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer, Video By Braden Murray | Broadcast Reporter

Short-handed No. 7 Baylor men’s basketball completed the season sweep over Texas Christian University, winning their Saturday matchup 72-62 in the Ferrell Center.

Despite only using a six-man rotation, Baylor (22-5, 10-4 Big 12) led from start to finish against TCU (16-8, 5-7 Big 12). Juniors forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and guard Adam Flagler were both out with knee injuries. Guards sophomore LJ Cryer (foot) and senior Mitchell Paul (ankle) missing today’s game as well meant there were only three available guards for the Bears.

“It’s a little bit like the book of Gideon in the bible,” head coach Scott Drew said. “People keep dropping off and these guys keep persevering and play for the culture of joy.”

Of Baylor’s six rotation players, five scored in double figures. Leading the way was the freshmen forward duo of Jeremy Sochan and Kendall Brown. Sochan led in scoring with 17 points and added six rebounds. Brown put on an all-around performance with 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and added a steal and a block. Senior forwards Matthew Mayer and Flo Thamba also had themselves a game. Mayer finished 16 points and five rebounds, and Thamba sniffed a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds. Senior guard James Akinjo scored 11 points with a team-high eight assists.

“We had a nice six-man rotation going right there,” Drew said. “The guys stayed out of foul trouble and were aggressive, really locked in on the defensive end. We were really good defensively and we were really good when we got stops at getting out in transition. Credit to them and lucky they’re young so they can recover quick.”

Baylor came out firing, jumping ahead 7-0 to start the game. In his rare start, junior guard Dale Bonner made an impression early, snatching three steals in the first four minutes of play. The Bear’s ability to switch everything on the defensive end made it difficult for TCU early on.

The Ferrell Center crowd erupted as Brown pushed the lead to double-digits, followed by an emphatic block by Thamba. However, the two teams went cold as neither squad hit a field goal for over three minutes of play. Mayer’s layup put and end to Baylor’s bleeding, but TCU’s near six-minute field goal drought allowed for the Bears to take a 12-point lead with five minutes left in the first. TCU responded with a 6-0 run to get back into it, but Baylor kept them at bay. Mayer found a cutting Brown who finessed a dunk to retain the Bear’s double-digit lead going into the half, 33-23.

At the break, Sochan led the way with 11 points. Brown followed with six points, three assists and three rebounds. Akinjo struggled to get it going in the first, shooting just 1-of-8 for two points. Baylor shot 41.1% from the field in the first half, but were trigger-shy from beyond the arc. Attempting only six threes and hitting none. On the defensive side, the Bears forced 10 turnovers in the first half of play. Sochan said the team’s success could be attributed to their positive mentality.

“We’ve been inconsistent since the last time we played TCU,” Sochan said. “We just went in with a growth mindset and stayed positive. Our key was to be the toughest team and we did that for most of the game.”

The second half of the contest started in similar fashion, Baylor kicked things off with a quick 6-0 run to increase their lead to 16. Akinjo and Brown connected on multiple lobs early, injecting life back into the Ferrell Center fans. The Bears’ lead remained in the 14-18 point range for the majority of the second half, peaking at 20 coming off of back-to-back threes from Mayer.

Despite a too little too late comeback attempt from the Horned Frogs, Baylor remained in control the rest of the contest. Closing the game out with a 10-point victory over TCU, 72-62.

The defending champs have a quick turnaround, traveling to Stillwater, Okla. for their matchup with Oklahoma State University at 8 p.m. on Monday in the Gallagher-Iba Arena. The last time they faced off, OSU handed Baylor just their second loss of the season, and the Bears haven’t forgotten.

“We definitely remember that, it was not a good feeling,” Brown said. “We just have to get back to work, and when we play them again it should be a different outcome.”