Baylor (25-7) fell to Kansas State (20-12) 70-64. The Bears will play in the NCAA Tournament next week. Hopefully everyone can get healthy by then.
For the second time this season, Baylor’s offense was awful against Kansas State. The Bears went over three minutes without a basket against the Wildcats on two occasions. They had seven turnovers 12 minutes into the game. Enough bad stretches to make it too difficult to to come back.
The Bears wasted a good defensive start. And with Kansas’ loss earlier in the day, one of the best opportunities to win this tournament is gone.
This was an odd game. Jo Lual-Acuil was called for a technical foul after appearing to offer two words to Isaiah Maurice. I didn’t think Lual-Acuil deserved the technical and a good Kansas State friend agreed this was wild:
Somehow Baylor and Kansas State were tied at 25-25 going into the half. The Bears turned it over on 1/3 of their offensive possessions. Over a full season, that mark would easily be the worst in the country. But the Bears managed to grab seven offensive rebounds. Baylor did not shoot a free throw in the first half.
The Bears just couldn’t put together enough stops or consistent offense. The former has been a problem a few times this season, but the latter has been the consistent issue over many of the last 11 games. The Wilidcats opened the second half 9-of-14.
Johnathan Motley left the game with 8 minutes left after dislocating a finger on his left hand. He only sat out for about two minutes. Motley threw some tape on his finger and returned. But he came back and missed four straight at the line.
Manu Lecomte returned after missing the past two games. He didn’t look like himself in the first half. In the second half, he had an incredible stretch. He came off high-ball screens and made floaters and nailed 3-point shots. The Bears desperately need him to play like that going forward.
Baylor made one final run late. Al Freeman, Ish Wainright, and Motley made big shots, and Kansas State had a couple turnovers. But the Wildcats drained most of their free throws, and Freeman missed a 3-point look. That was enough to put the Bears away, especially on a night they missed 6-of-12 free throws.
Kansas State deserves credit for winning this one too. The Wildcats were likely not making it to the dance with a loss. But the Wildcats hit a few spectacular shots when the Bears made a run. There’s no doubt Kansas State is worlds better than much of the mediocrity in the Big Ten.
This was a disappointing loss, but the Bears should be at least a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve given themselves a chance and a good seed to forget about tonight.