On Tuesday night, Manu Lecomte, Jo Lual-Acuil, Terry Maston and Nuni Omot will play their final home game.
When I think about past Baylor basketball players, a moment or two usually sticks out. For Brady Heslip, it’s his nine 3-point makes against Colorado in the NCAA Tournament. For Quincy Acy, it’s his 10 dunks against Texas.
Here are the moments I’ll think of for Baylor’s seniors (with hopefully a few more in the Big 12 and NCAA Tournament this year).
Baylor wouldn’t have made the Sweet 16 last season without Lecomte. The Bears trailed USC 60-56 with 8:01 left in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. Lecomte took over.
Over the final eight minutes, he assisted King McClure on a made three, made a three to give Baylor the lead, stole the ball, drained all three of his free throw attempts, hit another jumper and then sealed the game by drawing offensive interference to go up four points:
The other moment that sticks out is his performance against Kansas in Waco this season. Baylor had dropped 11 straight games to Kansas. Plenty of folks, including me and friend of the blog, Josh DeMoss, had graduated from both Baylor and Kansas during that streak.
Lecomte drained two long threes in way to a route of the Jayhawks:
Maston’s been around for four seasons. During his sophomore year, he helped the Bears sweep an excellent Iowa State team. In Ames, he flashed his old man game and made five jump shots:
He looked on the way to a big season. Jerome Tang, Baylor’s Associated Head Coach, told the Bear Droppings podcast that early in the campaign. But Maston broke his shooting hand against Xavier. He came back, but his shot didn’t for a while.
Luckily, he looked better than ever in February. Against Texas’ top 10 defense, Maston scored 26 points on just 16 shots, leading the Bears to a double overtime victory in Austin. He was spectacular:
The junior college transfer wasn’t supposed to be at Baylor this season. But after a test revealed a heat issue, he sat out for a season and gained a medical redshirt to play this season. The Bear’s big man has been way better than expected.
Last season, Lual-Acuil got off to a giant start. He blocked seven shots against No. 4 Oregon, which keyed the way to Baylor earning the first No. 1 ranking in program history:
In the First Round of the NCAA Tournament last season, Baylor, as a No. 3 seed, trailed New Mexico State at halftime. The Bears had lost in the first round in 2015 as a No. 3 seed and 2016 as a No. 5 seed. Another loss as a low seed would have led to trolling unmatched since Texas lost a football game to Kansas.
Lual-Acuil took over. He finished the contest against New Mexico State with 17 points on 10 shots. And he had one excellent block:
I’ve included wins so far, so I’ll stick with that. But honorable mention to Omot for going 6-of-6 from deep in Norman this season.
He had an awesome game against Kansas in Waco. I think both Lecomte and Omot will be remembered for that Kansas game in the same way Pierre Jackson and Cory Jefferson are for the 2013 win in Waco. Omot finished the Kansas game with an offensive rating of 182 and went 3-of-4 from three, including this big make:
But years down the line, if I haven’t heard the name Nuni Omot in years, I’ll immediately have one thing come to my head when I hear his name. And it will be the dunk that made him President. Against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, he had the play of Baylor’s season:
What the group meant:
They’re not done yet. This may all end well with a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Or it could end in the NIT. How the next two weeks go will impact how a lot of people feel about these four guys.
But regardless of how the next three games go, this group led Baylor to new heights. The program earned a No. 1 ranking for the first time ever. They made a Sweet 16. They beat Kansas, something that hadn’t happened since 2013. They ran off five games in a row after starting 2-7 and being left for dead. They won the Battle 4 Atlantis and the CBE Experience. They made spectacular plays and were a joy to follow. They deserve one final run. Hopefully they can do it.