Baylor (20-3, 7-3) fell to Kansas State (16-7, 5-5), 56-54. On a day Kansas lost a game in Allen Filedhouse, Baylor remains in the Big 12 title race. But the loss ensures the Bears have almost no margin for error left to win this league.
Baylor mounted a furious comeback that ended up just short. Baylor was down just two with 1:30 left. The Bears had seemingly made a huge stop, but the officials reviewed who the ball was out on. It was ruled Kansas State ball. The Wildcats then notched a 2-point shot with that additional second, giving Kansas State a four point lead.
Then, Manu Lecomte drained a 3-point shot from about 30 feet on the next possession. Baylor trailed by just one. D.J. Johnson went to the line and missed both. Lecomte missed a 2-point attempt on the next series, and Baylor was forced to foul Johnson again. This time, Johnson made one. Once again, Baylor had a chance.
After a timeout, Ish Wainright threw a pass to Motley under the hoop. Motley missed from a few feet. He’s one of the best players in the country, but he came up a little short on a great look. Baylor had another shot after the ball went out with 1.6 seconds left, but this time, Motley’s shot was blocked and time expired. The furious comeback fell short.
As strong as Baylor played at the end, the first half was brutal. Kansas State led 37-22 at halftime. The Wildcats were on fire. Baylor missed some big rotations too, and often struggled to get out on Kansas State. But at times, the Wildcats just made shots. Kansas State finished the half 15 for 30, and hit 5 of their 10 3-point attempts.
On the other hand, the Bear’s offense was bad. Baylor finished the half 8 for 24. They had 10 turnovers and were just two of four from the free throw line. Johnathan Motley hit just two of his seven attempts, and Kansas State’s lead seemed nearly insurmountable.
The Bears comback ultimately felt like it started just a little too late and required Baylor to be a little too good with the amount of time left. The Bears cut it to 11 with 7:22 remaining. But Baylor’s missed free throws and shots were just too much to overcome. In the second half, the Bear’s defense dug in. The Wildcats scored just 12 points in over 13 minutes. Yet, Baylor scored only 16 in that stretch. Too many misses and too many turnovers. The Bears finished the game with 16 turnovers and six misses at the free throw line.
This was a brutal tale of two halves. Baylor was nearly good enough in the second half to make the first half irrelevant. But after winning so many close games this season, the Bears have now lost two heartbreaking games this week.
Baylor’s goal has long been to win the Big 12. KU has left them an opening. Baylor failed to take that opportunity today. Now, they’ll have to make their own going forward.