Despite no Rico Gathers, who stayed home with an illness, and with foul trouble hampering all of the Baylor big men, the Bears used a strong defensive effort to end their 2-game winning streak against Kansas State. Baylor was without one of their senior leaders, and one of the best rebounders in the nation with Gathers at home.
Without the Bears second leading scorer and top rebounder, Baylor turned to Jonathan Motley down low. The talented sophomore had been coming off the bench this year, but started every game for the Bears last year. The end result was a game that they never trailed in, and won with a balanced offensive attack that saw all 8-players score.
Led by just their second different starting lineup of the season, Baylor came out quickly, building an 11-4 lead in the first four minutes of action. The Bears defense was swarming to start the game, forcing four turnovers in the first four minutes and getting into the open floor. Kansas State would end up with 12 turnovers in the first half as the Bears would build a 10 point lead going into halftime. With the whistles coming at the Bears fast and furious, five Bears had two or more fouls, with all four of their posts limited due to foul trouble.
This was the zone defense Baylor fans have been hoping to see, one that challenged shots and forced turnovers to get their powerful transition game going. Baylor was active with their rotations, and forced Kansas State into shots they didn't want to take. The Wildcats missed their first 10 three pointers before hitting their first with just 59 seconds to go. They would hit just 2-14 from deep, while Baylor made 7-13.
The second half would be more of the same as Kansas State would struggle to make shots from the outside, but stay within single digits due to a strong effort on the boards. Baylor was outrebounded 37-24 by Kansas State, but shot 47.9% from the field and made 7-13 from 3-point range to carry the offense. Al Freeman led the Bears with 21 points, with Taurean Prince finishing with 18 points. Lester Medford scored 13 points for the Bears, courtesy of a perfect 11-11 night from the free throw line. In fact, Baylor made 29-30 free throws in the game, outdueling Kansas State who made 20-23.
Kansas State would hang around in the second half, cutting the lead to 5, as the Bears went over 6 and a half minutes without a point. However, Jonathan Motley would get an offensive rebound, putback and the foul to build the lead back up to 8. The Wildcats would answer though and trim the lead back to five once again. TJ Maston would score on a nifty layup, then Al Freeman would score 7-straight points for the Bears to get the lead back to 10 points. The biggest play might have been a key Jake Lindsey offensive rebound and touch pass to Freeman for an open 3-pointer.
Baylor improves to 7-4 in Big 12 play, and ends their 2-game losing streak. They come home to host Texas Tech Saturdayevening at 7pm before finishing the season with a run of 5 games out of 6 against ranked teams.