Simply put, there is not team in basketball that has put together a better 2-month start to the 2016-17 season. With wins over Top 10 ranked Oregon and Louisville already on their ledger, the Bears defeated their third Top 10 team of the season in a dominant 76-61 victory over Xavier. It didn't matter that they were down 3 points at halftime (the fourth 2nd half comeback in five games). It didn't matter that the Bears struggled behind the three-point line in the first half, missing their first 7 shots.
The Bears did what they have done all year, switching up their defense and getting the ball into the right spots of the court to dominate the second half. Baylor was +18 in the second half, outscoring Xavier 45-27 in the last 20 minutes of action. With Manu Lecomte putting together his best game as a Baylor Bear, Scott Drew and company secured their first ever win in a Top 10 matchup.
The junior transfer from Miami, Lecomte hit 8 of 14 shots, including six 3-pointers, to score a career high 24 points to go along with 5 assists and 2 steals. He was nearly perfect in the second half, scoring 15 of those points and chipping in 4 assists. It was standard operating procedure for a Baylor team that made a living with big second half efforts during their championship run in the Battle-4-Atlantis in the Bahamas. Those three wins over recent powers VCU, Michigan State, and Louisville propelled the Bears into the top-10.
Against a Xavier team that came in ranked 7th in the nation and also 7-0, the Bears would need another big crowd and big effort from a bench that has been sensational to start the 2016 season. The bench trio of Jake Lindsey, King McClure, and TJ Maston once again turned a deficit into a lead. Even with King McClure struggling in his 10 minutes with zero makes on his five shots, the trio combined for 13 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals.
With Manu Lecomte leading the way though, the Bears dominated in the paint, outscoring Xavier 38-18. Juniors Jonathan Motley and Jo Acuil both had big games. Motley scored 17 points and chipped in 8 rebounds. Acuil scored 10 points and 6 blocks to once again key the Bears paint defense. Baylor is now 17th in the nation in block percentage, getting a block on 16.3% of chances.
With the Bears running out to a 6-2 lead in 90 seconds, the Musketeers started to hit outside shots. Trevon Bluiett led the way in the first half with three 3-pointers, as the team made 5 of 11. Xavier used outside shooting and great effort on the offensive glass ( 10 offensive rebounds) to build a 9 point lead halfway through the half. However, the Bears would adjust, and switch from their zone defense, to a half court trap, and then a little bit of man to confuse Xavier and force 17 turnovers one the game.
Xavier would take their last lead of the game at 51-50, but a 21-2 run to turn the game into a Baylor blowout win. The Bears improve to 8-0 and host Southern on December 14th for their next game.
- Baylor is 1 of 12 remaining undefeated Division I teams.
- Baylor won a matchup of top-10 teams for the first time in program history (1-6).
- Baylor is 8-16 against AP Top 10 teams since March 2012. BU started the Drew era 1-26 vs. top-10 opponents.
- Baylor is 35-54 against ranked teams since 2007-08. Prior to that stretch, BU was 0-27 in Drew’s first four rebuilding seasons.
- Baylor is off to an 8-0 start for the 1st time since 2011-12. It ties the 5th-best start in program history.
- Baylor has won 39 consecutive non-conference home games, dating back to Dec. 12, 2012.
- Baylor’s 133 wins since 2011-12 are second-most in the Big 12 behind only Kansas (152).
- Baylor is 164-62 all-time at home under Scott Drew, has had 12 or more wins each season since 2006-07 (146-38) and is 5-0 this season.
- Baylor’s 4-game winning streak vs. AP-ranked teams is tied for longest in program history – the Bears won four straight from Jan. 14-Feb. 7, 2015, but none of those were against top-10 teams. The Bears have defeated the four AP-ranked teams by an average +12.5 scoring margin.
- Baylor and Xavier met for the 3rd time – Bears has won all three meetings, with both prior meetings on neutral courts (2009 Old Spice Classic in Florida, 2012 NCAA Regional Semifinal in Atlanta, Ga.)
- Baylor is now 9-7 all-time against current Big East Conference members.
- Baylor is 29-9 all-time when top-10 ranked.
- Baylor has won all eight games this season by at least 3 points and averages a +14.5 scoring margin.
- Baylor’s starting lineup was Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., Manu Lecomte, Ishmail Wainright, Al Freeman, and Johnathan Motley – the group is 7-0 on the season as a starting unit.
- Drew, the program’s all-time win leader, is in his 15th season overall (277-183) and 14th at Baylor (257-172).
- Drew is 224-103 since 2007-08 – the first year he had a full allotment of scholarships.
- Baylor is 18-1 in December games since 2013.