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Baylor Finds its Stroke in a 82-72 Win

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Baylor overcame the absence of leader Rico Gathers with outside shooting and a historic night from the free throw line.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Even without Rico Gathers, Baylor was able to grit out a good road win to end its losing skid and move up to 4th place in the Big XII and just one game back from 1st.

For the first time in conference play since a January 13th win against TCU, the Bears scored over 80 points, an impressive feat against a Kansas State team that has only allowed 80+ points three other times this season.

This game was a return to form for Baylor's shooters. Al Freeman scored a total of 8 points in the past two games but went off for a game leading 21 points. He went 3-3 from deep and 6-6 from the free throw line. Taurean Prince contributed his own 18 points (6-8 FGA, 2-2 3PT) along with 2 blocks. When those two are scoring efficiently, Baylor is a tough team to beat, even when it loses the rebounding battle 25-35 and allows an unreasonable 19 offensive rebounds.

As a team, Baylor was lights out from three and from the free throw line. The Bears were 7-13 on three-pointers, and made this little bit of history from the free throw stripe:

That is some stupendous free throw shooting! Lester Medford, who has hovered around or below 60% from the line this season, drained 11-11. Baylor's free throw rate was an astounding 63.8, showing how effectively the Bears created shooting fouls throughout the game.

In the first half, Baylor jumped out to a 14-6 lead in a little over 5 minutes and had stretched that lead out to 21-8 by the 11 minute mark. This quick start was sparked by active and disruptive defense. Kansas State had 7 turnovers in that span and 12 of its 16 in the first half, which helped Baylor get to halftime with a 43-32 lead despite a 16-6 Wildcat run. K-State had its own nice night from the free throw line, going 20-23. That helped it counter-balance a dreadful night from three, where it was just 2-14, the lowest percentage Baylor has allowed all season.

With Gathers out and some early foul trouble for Johnathan Motley (9 pts, 3 rebs, and 3 blocks in 24 minutes) and Terry Maston (8 points in 14 minutes), Scott Drew was forced to get creative with his lineups. Jake Lindsey had a career high 26 minutes playing point guard, shooting guard, and small forward at various times as Ish Wainright (7 pts, 6 rebs) slid between small and power forward. For the final 3:27 of the first half, Drew went with a small lineup of Medford-Freeman-Lindsey-Wainright-Prince lineup, which was a truly inspired moment of #WeirdBasketball. It worked, too! Baylor closed out the half on an 8-2 run with that unit on the floor.

DJ Johnson was a beast for Kansas State down low, and he and Justin Edwards scored 19 apiece to keep the Wildcats in the game. Johnson was relentless on the offensive glass with 5 of his team's 19, while Edwards made the only 2 threes of the game for K-State. Both of those came in the 2nd half after the Wildcats started 0-10 from deep. Wesley Iwundu contributed 11 points and distributed 9 assists, which equaled Medford's total as well.

A stretch of turnovers in the second half by Baylor let Kansas State creep back into the game, but an offensive rebound by Lindsey (he had 6 rebounds on the night) and a kick out to Freeman for three to stretch the lead back to double-digits with 3:22 remaining. Baylor's final 12 points all came from the line in the final minute as Bruce Weber tried to extend the game for his team.

Baylor now stands at 7-4 in the Big XII. Texas Tech, fresh off an overtime upset of Iowa State, will be coming to Waco this Saturday. This will be a must win game as Baylor moves into a stretch where 4 of its 6 games will come against teams currently ranked in the top 25.

Be sure to get out to the Ferrell Center to support your Bears!

Baylor Bears
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Taurean Prince, F 31 6-8 2-2 4-4 1 0 1 2 0 2 5 2 18
Johnathan Motley, F 24 3-7 0-0 3-3 2 1 3 1 2 3 2 4 9
Ishmail Wainright, G 27 1-6 1-2 4-4 1 5 6 0 2 0 2 3 7
Al Freeman, G 33 6-7 3-3 6-6 1 3 4 0 1 0 1 0 21
Lester Medford, G 34 1-4 0-2 11-11 0 0 0 9 1 0 3 2 13
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Terry Maston, F 14 4-9 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 5 8
Jake Lindsey, G 26 1-3 0-1 0-0 1 5 6 4 1 1 0 2 2
King McClure, G 11 1-3 1-3 1-2 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 4
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
23-47 7-13 29-30 6 19 25 16 8 6 15 19 82
48.9% 53.8% 96.7%
Kansas State Wildcats
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Stephen Hurt, F 10 1-3 0-0 2-2 1 2 3 1 0 0 2 3 4
D.J. Johnson, F 32 7-15 0-0 5-7 5 3 8 0 1 1 1 3 19
Wesley Iwundu, F 38 5-8 0-1 1-2 4 0 4 9 3 0 4 1 11
Barry Brown, G 36 4-13 0-5 0-0 0 4 4 1 2 0 3 2 8
Carlbe Ervin II, G 25 1-4 0-1 2-2 3 4 7 0 1 0 3 2 4
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Austin Budke, F 12 0-2 0-0 2-2 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 2 2
Dean Wade, F 11 2-6 0-2 1-1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 4 5
Justin Edwards, G 36 5-13 2-5 7-7 2 0 2 2 1 0 2 5 19
Brian Rohleder, G 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
25-64 2-14 20-23 19 16 35 13 8 2 16 23 72
39.1% 14.3% 87.0%

via espn.com