Baylor (20-1) won a hard fought contest against Ole Miss (12-9) 78-75.
This was a grueling win over an Ole Miss team that played about as well as they will all season. The Rebels’ Sebastain Saiz scored the first eight points for Ole Miss, and finished with 20.
Throughout much of the game, it seemed like Ole Miss would pull off the upset. The Bears trailed 42-35 at halftime. Ole Miss entered the game 297th in turnover percentage on KenPom, they had just one turnover in the first half. Baylor had 10.
Down by eight, Johnathan Motley returned to the game with 14 minutes left. Motley forced a double team, then hit King McClure for an open 3-point chance. McClure delivered. Following a Baylor stop, Jake Lindsey ran the ball up court and found Manu Lecomte in the corner. The Bears pulled within two and felt in the game for the first time all day.
That run brought the Bears back into the game, but it was never enough to pull away. Ole Miss put Baylor in high ball screens and found a way to avoid Baylor’s rim protection, for the most part. The Rebels led by one with 3:51 remaining.
But as is often the case with this team, they found a way to win. Up three with 20 seconds left, Manu Lecomte hit a 3-point shot and drew the foul. Baylor had finally put Ole Miss away.
The Bears had some problems today. Freshman Breein Tyree, cousin of the man who made the helmet catch in the Super Bowl for the Patriots, entered the game averaging four points per game. He scored 20 today. The Bears turned it over 17 times, while Ole Miss turned it over just eight. And Baylor couldn’t get much going from some players who are normally reliable.
An optimist might counter the Bears found a way to win. Nuni Omot hit big 3-point shots. King McClure returned and was active on defense, and Jake Lindsey found guys at key points and made a big 3-point shot of his own. Lual-Acuil even hit two big free throws late, and he finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. As often happens too, despite all of Baylor’s problems, Motley was still fantastic. Motley finished with 16 points and nine rebounds as well.
Baylor will head to Lawrence to take on Kansas on Wednesday. The winner of that game will have the lead in the Big 12 race. You can be worried at how Baylor barely won today, but the Bears have 20 wins. And perhaps most importantly, they have a frontcourt that gives them a chance to get Baylor’s first ever win in Allen Fieldhouse.