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Baylor defeats Florida Gulf Coast 81-72

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The Bears overcame a tough test from Florida Gulf Coast

NCAA Basketball: Florida Gulf Coast at Baylor Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears survived a second half onslaught from Florida Gulf Coast to win 81-72.

Baylor was plagued by a poor shooting night from deep. The Bears finished 4 of 18 from three.

As bad as Baylor was from behind the arc, Florida Gulf Coast was exemplary from three. The Eagles were 10 of 18, including 4 of 6 from Christian Terrell.

The Bears mixed defenses throughout the night to try to contain Florida Gulf Coast. After opening in zone following their victory against Oregon, the Bears could not replicate the defensive success they had against the Ducks. Florida Gulf Coast forced the ball inside and had a number of open looks.

The Bears offense was dominant in the first half. Motley had 10 points and showed why he has a good chance of being a first round pick:

Baylor entered halftime up 42-32. Al Freeman and Motley made a number of twos. So many, the Bears set a record for opponent field goal percentage against Florida Gulf Coast.

But Florida Gulf Coast opened the second half on a run. The Eagles made their first seven shots and narrowed Baylor’s lead to just two. And Florida Gulf Coast didn’t let up.

As the Bears led by just one inside three minutes left, Jo Lual-Acuil took over. Following a Manu Lecomte miss, Lual-Acuil grabbed an offensive rebound and threw it down. On the next defensive possession, Lual-Acuil blocked the Eagles shot. And after Lecomte made a nice layp, Lual-Acuil made the difference at the rim one more time.

Lecomte wanted to remind the Bears they had another great newcomer. With 55 seconds left Motley hit Lecomte for three. The Bears led by eight and a lead that was once so fragile was secure.

The Bears showed the formula for how they win. The guards scored—Lecomte had 17 and Freeman 19—and Lual-Acuili added another five blocks. Motley made big plays, and Wainright made a number of key steals.

Following a big win against the #4 ranked Oregon Ducks on Tuesday, the Bears should enter the top 25. The underdog Eagles pushed the Bears all night. But eventually Baylor found a way to make a run on a night where they weren’t at their best. They’ll have to win a few more games like this during the season if they want to meet their goals, but tonight was a sign they sure can.