Love bug: No. 3 seed Baylor men’s basketball readies for March without Langston

Freshman center Yves Missi routes a Jayhawks guard during Baylor men's basketball's game against Kansas on March 2. Assoah Ndomo | Photographer

By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer

Before head coach Scott Drew took any questions on Wednesday, he addressed redshirt sophomore Langston Love’s status for the NCAA Tournament.

“Langston will not play this weekend, and [he’s] doubtful for the NCAA Tournament,” Drew said. “Thoughts and prayers for him. I know he’s had a tough go at it.”

Love will leave a void in No. 3 seed Baylor’s rotation during March Madness for the second straight year. The Bears (23-10) will look to weather that loss as they open their March Madness journey at 11:40 a.m. on Friday against No. 14 seed Colgate (25-9) at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn.

Senior forward Caleb Lohner said Love has been a “warrior” though his injuries this season. Love has missed nine of the last 11 games after multiple injuries to his ankle.

“If I was in Langston’s position, I wouldn’t be handling it the way he is,” Lohner said. “And so to see somebody that is consistently putting into the program [and] not be able to play is tough.

“But the great thing about Langston is, I think in his mind, if he can’t play, well then he’s going to be the best teammate, and he’s going to be the best energy on the bench, and he’s going to help us through things.”

In Love’s absence, Lohner has shined in a bench role, particularly during the Big 12 Tournament. While his numbers didn’t pop out of the page, Lohner’s postseason play was reminiscent of last year down the stretch.

“Some nights, it’s your night; some nights, it’s not,” Drew said. “But what you can always count on is Caleb is always going to play hard. He’s always going to compete. He’s always going to be a great teammate.

“I thought the game slowed down for him up there [in Kansas City]. Meaning, he always does a great job rebounding. But offensively, he really did a good job playing within himself and creating for his teammates, and he’s really been, offensively, executing at a high level.”

With Lohner’s late success, Drew was able to pair the fourth-year wing with senior forward Jalen Bridges and freshman center Yves Missi to create a three-forward lineup that played plus minutes in the Big 12 Tournament. Although the lineup looks new due to the Bears’ guard trio that sees most of the minutes, it could man the court alongside each other in some big spots.

“All of us play cards. You’d rather have more cards than less cards to choose from,” Drew said. “And some nights, you need face cards. Other nights, you need low cards, depending on the game.

“Caleb playing as well as he has, it gives you another card that you can play more. One thing is you’re never going to be out-physicaled, or you never have to worry about playing hard when Caleb is on the court.”

The Bears and Raiders will meet for the first time in program history at 11:40 a.m. on Friday in Memphis, and the game will be broadcast on TruTv.