The Baylor Bears (16-1) picked up a big victory in Manhattan against the Kansas State Wildcats (13-4). Manu Lecomte led the way with 26 points, and the team finished 9 of 20 from 3-point range.
Ish Wainright opened with the first five points of the game, which was a nice return to form after he struggled against West Virginia. Al Freeman also played well early. Freeman nailed a 3-point shot and had three assists in the first half.
Lecomte picked up two early fouls, but he came back into the game and gave the Bears what they needed. Lecomte hit a couple of big 3-point shots, including off this assist from Al Freeman:
But the Bears could not pull away in the first half due to foul trouble. The Bears led at halftime 31-30. Lecomte picked up his third foul in the first half, and Johnathan Motley collected two fouls in the first. The Bears continued to play pretty well, but Kansas State hung around.
The Wildcats did well reversing the ball to open corners in the zone. The Wildcats finished the first half 5 of 14 from deep. Baylor went 4 of 10 from the perimeter in the first half, which was a nice start after making 10 combined 3-point shots in their last three games.
The game featured 11 lead changes. Johnathan Motley did not have his best game of the season, finishing with seven points and nine rebounds. But Motley made this big play to hold off the Wildcats:
With 4:34 left, Motley was called for his fifth foul on a play where he did nothing. The Wildcats seemed to earn a favorable whistle late, something they certainly did not get against Kansas and Texas Tech.
The Bears responded though. Lecomte made his way to the paint and nailed jumpers. Freeman finished with 15 points, and Wainright added 15 as well. They finished 9 of 20 from 3-point land after entering the game ranked 175th from there on KenPom.
John Higgins gonna keep workin until he gets included in that "Impact Players" bit at the beginning of an ESPN broadcast— fank still sucks (@dfank_BU) January 14, 2017
The Bears only had two problems today: turnovers and fouling. Several of the fouls were the kind you deal with on the road in Big 12 play. Going forward, the high number of fouls today does not seem like a huge problem. But the Bears had 17 turnovers. The Bears did a good job taking early open looks. If they continue that trend, they may be able to correct their turnover woes.
This was exactly the game Baylor needed. Freeman, Lecomte, and Wainright had superb games. They won a road game against a quality opponent with Motley not having his best day. Several Big 12 teams will look to take away Motley. And if they do, the Bears showed they have plenty to still win:
Baylor hosts Texas next. They won’t be ranked #1 after what happened the previous Tuesday, but they showed they have the pieces to make a run at ending up there by the end of the season.