Coming home was sweeter than it needed to be for former assistant coach Jerome Tang, as the Wildcats grabbed a overtime road win, 97-95, in Waco on Saturday night.
Final from Waco#SicEm | #CultureOfJOY pic.twitter.com/QxcZriOIbT— Baylor Men’s Basketball (@BaylorMBB) January 8, 2023
On a night where Flo Thamba scored 14, Keyonte George looked electric again with 22, and Adam Flagler gathered 23 points, Baylor could not earn a conference win in its first three contests. The last time Baylor started 0-3 in conference play: 2006.
The defensive energy improved. The offense avoided a long stagnant period. The issues that have plagued Scott Drew’s team this season seemed to be moving towards resolution.
And yet, once again, the Bears failed to put the ball in the basket nearly as efficiently as their opponent. 75% from the free throw line was the best the Bears could muster, leaving 9 points on the floor. Kansas State made 18 of their 21 opportunities. Despite Jalen Bridges knocking down two more 3-pointers after his “breakout” on Wednesday, a very welcome sight, the Bears shot 8-25 from deep compared to the Wildcat’s 11-25.
Markquis Nowell is out here putting up Steph Curry type numbers— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) January 8, 2023
Just dropped 31 and 14 to lead K-State over No. 19 Baylor @MrNewYorkCityy pic.twitter.com/wB8urCPReF
Meanwhile, Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson combined for 56 points on 33 shots. If you include Ismael Massoud’s timely shooting, that improves to 69 points scored on only 37 shots. The defense simply was not good enough to win this game.
Nowell also recorded the first 30-point, 10-assist game in Kansas State history. This was only the second performance of this kind in the last decade, with Trae Young being the last player to set this mark.
Could some of this result be attributed to a handful of deep, very late shot clock Kansas State 3-pointers? Possibly. Could some of this result be attributed to improving but still poor defensive play from Baylor? Likely. Could a decent portion of this result be attributed to getting mediocre shooting from a backcourt that is capable of much more? Definitely.
The Big 12 Conference is a meat grinder. Baylor has a working machine, but the screws need tightening and the blades still need a good deal of sharpening.