The Bears found a way to win on a night that a team simply should not. But these are the kind of games a great team can win, and the Bears did. Baylor (14-0) defeated Iowa State (9-4), 65-63. The Bears are one of the final two undefeated teams in the country.
The final shot perfectly summarized the game. Baylor could not get the look it wanted for Johnathan Motley, a problem that plagued Baylor for much of the night. Motley is one of the best player in the country, and at 6’10, he has a huge size advantage against the Cyclones. But on the final play, Manu Lecomte gave Baylor the lead and the win:
The reason a team would normally lose to Iowa State on a night like this is because the Cyclones shot out of their minds. The Cyclones found open looks most of the night and finished 10 of 22 from deep. On possession after possession, Matt Thomas and Naz Mitrou-Long found a way to make shots.
Baylor’s three point attack disappeared. Baylor started just 1 of 11 from three. The Bears finished the game 3 of 17. Only Jake Lindsey and King McClure made a three point shot tonight.
Iowa State also held onto the ball well. The Cyclones finished with just five turnovers, while the Bears had 13. Everything pointed to a Cyclones victory on a such a weird night, which included King McClure nabbing his first start after Al Freeman was held out of the starting lineup for disciplinary reasons.
But Baylor found a way to win by dominating the glass and getting just enough from Motley and Jo Lual-Acuil. Both played excellently, but in Ames, the Bears will need more than 19 shots from the duo. Motley finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Lual-Acuil had 15 points and eight rebounds. The Bears ended the game with 14 offensive rebounds.
The Bears will probably not shoot this poorly again this season, and a Baylor opponent probably won’t shoot this well from three. The Bears entered the game in the top 10 on KenPom in 3-point defense. But some nights a team’s shot isn’t falling, and the opponent’s shot does. A team normally loses on those nights. There’s something special about this game and something special about this team though. With Villanova’s loss to Butler earlier in the night, the Bears will be #1 next week with a win against Oklahoma State on Saturday.