With an ability to stop TCU in the second half, Baylor (17-12, 7-9) fell to TCU (20-9, 8-8) 82-72. The Bears take on Oklahoma at 8:00 on Tuesday in Waco.
Jo Lual-Acuil finished with 22 points, and Tristan Clark had 14. But Manu Lecomte’s 1-of-10 game put the Bears in an impossible spot on a day TCU was making about everything.
The first half didn’t go Baylor’s way. TCU built an 11 point lead, but the Bears cut it with a late run. TCU was in the bonus nine minutes into the half. Foul trouble didn’t impact rotations, but it gave TCU a few more opportunities. And the Horned Frogs had plenty of opportunities. They grabbed six offensive rebounds in the first five minutes. Baylor’s zone failed to contains dribble penetration, which left shooters open. TCU started the game 4-of-9 from three. After the first half, Baylor had gone 65 minutes against TCU this season with a single made three. TCU led at halftime 33-28.
The early second half went well for Baylor. The Bears started the half 5-of-7 from the field with 1.44 points per possession. Jo Lual-Acuil worked Vlad Brodziansky once again, and Tristan Clark reacted well when Lual-Acuil was dobuled. Manu Lecomte drained a three, and King McClure played nice defense, stripping the Horned Frogs and providing timely doubles. After Lecomte drained two free throws with 15:29 remaining, the Bears were tied with the Horned Frogs at 43-43.
Both teams exchanged buckets for the next five minutes. Baylor would score in the paint, then TCU would. Even when Baylor managed to stop TCU from making a basket, TCU got to the line. Twice Baylor exaggerated the contact on defense and couldn’t earn an offensive foul call on TCU. Unfortunately, Brodziansky sold a call and earned a charge on Maston. In a back-and-forth game, every possession matters and that one really hurt.
Baylor’s 51 points have come on a 3-pointer, 8 free throws and 40 points in the paint. #SicTCU— David Kaye (@DavidKaye9) February 24, 2018
Once again, Baylor couldn’t quite get the luck they needed. McClure stripped the ball and drove the floor. He earned a foul and made the basket. But after calling it a continuation, the officials waved it off. Baylor couldn’t score on the possession, and instead of earning three points, Baylor earned zero.
The Bears fought back, but TCU pushed back ahead with a 6-0 run to lead 65-59 with 6:34 left. Kenrich Williams, the Waco native that Baylor should have offered, made a couple tough 2-point shots in the half. The Bears couldn’t hit floaters or a turnaround hook during that stretch.
TCU pulled away late. The Bears couldn’t stay in front of Alex Robinson, and when Baylor went zone, Kouat Noi drained triples.
Baylor did so many things that could have won the game. They started 14-of-14 from the line and destroyed TCU in the paint. They grabbed offensive rebounds too. But their defense couldn’t stop Robinson on drives, and the Frogs made some tough shots. Baylor didn’t. TCU scored 1.4 points per possession in the first 18 minutes of the half. The Horned Frogs finished the half shooting 69% from the field. By then, Baylor had made just two 3-point shots in 84 minutes against TCU. That won’t get it done against a good Big 12 team.
The season isn’t over, but the Bears have once again put themselves in a tough spot. The Bears may need to win both games next week to make the tournament. Once again, it’s time to prove they aren’t finished.