You just can't count these Bears out. Trailing entering the second half for the third consecutive game at the Battle-4-Atlantis, the Bears had to overcome their largest deficit of the season against a Top-10 Louisville Cardinal team. It did not matter. A 22-point deficit in the first half did not matter. Playing a second Top-10 team in 6 games did not matter. Baylor simply kept chugging away, never losing their will to fight, even when shots were not falling in the first half for the guys in green and gold.
With reserves King McClure, Jake Lindsey, and Terry Maston leading the way along with Jonathan Motley, Baylor was nearly perfect in the second half. Facing a 44-26 deficit just 4 minutes into the second half, the Bears made their push. First it was a Terry Maston free throw line jumper. Then it was a Jake Lindsey layup off of a steal. Finally, it was back-to-back three-pointers from King McClure, and all of a sudden it is a 10 point game just 3 minutes later.
The Baylor bench led the way for the Bears, scoring 36 points and hitting 14-24 shots to go along with 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals with just a single turnover. With starting guards Manu Lecomte and Al Freeman not effective against the Louisville guards, it was up to the bench to make plays. Chuck Mitchell played well in the first half, but it was all about King McClure and Jake Lindsey in the second half.
Jonathan Motley, struggling in the first half against the tall and physical Cardinal front line, the Bears once again adjusted how they got their star junior the ball, using him on the baseline more and getting him down into the low post. With Louisville fronting Motley and Jo Acuil, the Bears offense struggled early to get any type of rhythm going.
It took Baylor over 4-minutes to score their first point of the game, and another 3 minutes before Baylor would put another point on the board. By that time, it was 13-4 Louisville and it would only get worse. The suffocating Cardinal defense snuffed out every shot for Baylor, with Baylor turning the ball over constantly. When the Bears did miss, Louisville was there to clean up the glass. When the Cardinals missed, they got those too.
The lead would balloon to 22 with just over 4-minutes to go. Down 32-10, the Bears were completely out of the game. Louisville was making all of the right plays and getting all of the bounces. A late 14-5 run by the Bears would be their first signs of life to cut the lead to 15 at halftime.
Luckily for the Bears, they have developed a comfort in coming from behind, something they did in all three games in the Bahamas in an 8-point deficit against VCU and a 3-point halftime lead for Michigan State.
It started, as all good comeback do, on the defensive side of the court. Going to reserves Jake Lindsey and King McClure at the guard spots, the Bears switched to their man defense, forcing the Cards to beat them one-on-one. They simply couldn't. The shots that were falling in the first half, were finding the rim instead of the bottom of the net.
With the Bears run to cut the lead to 10 coming in a flurry, the rest of the comeback was a slow chipping away at the boulder in front of them. As McClure and Maston hit outside shots, junior post Jonathan Motley was finally able to find room underneath and grind his way for 15 points.
Baylor would take its first lead of the game, 57-56, off of a Jake Lindsey steal and layup. What is better than doing that once though, is doing it on the next possession as well giving Baylor a 3-point lead. The Cards would tie it on a Donovan Mitchell 3-pointer, but the Bears would respond once again on a Jonathan Motley dunk.
That would be a lead the Bears would not relinquish, with King McClure hitting 3 of 4 free throws to ice the game and give the Bears a 66-63 win over Louisville. Baylor returns home to host another Top-10 team in Xavier on Saturday, December 3rd.