With Manu Lecomte going off for a career-high 30 points, Baylor pulled away for a 76-60 win over Oklahoma State in the first meeting between the two teams at the Ferrell Center.
The Bears’ senior point guard hopes to come back with another torrid performance in the rematch against the Cowboys at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.
Lecomte nailed seven of 12 3-pointers in the Jan. 15 game against the Cowboys.
It was completely opposite than his last game when he missed all six 3-point attempts in Saturday’s 81-67 win over Iowa State, but he’s never worried that he’ll stay in a prolonged slump.
“I’m a shooter, so I’ve already forgotten about that game honestly,” Lecomte said. “I know I’m going to get hot in the next game, so it’s not a problem. The good thing about our team is we just don’t live off my 3’s. If the 3 doesn’t go in, we go inside. That’s why we’re a well balanced team. We had a bad game shooting 3’s, but in the paint we were amazing.”
Forward Terry Maston came off the bench to score 23 points to make up for Baylor’s two for 14 3-point shooting against the Cyclones. But the best case scenario for the Bears (13-10, 3-7) would be a more balanced inside-outside attack on the road against the Cowboys (14-9, 4-6).
The Bears have lost all five Big 12 road games, and aren’t catching Oklahoma State at a good time following an 84-79 win over Kansas on Saturday in Lawrence.
The Cowboys drained 12 of 27 3-pointers against the Jayhawks, including four of nine by forward Jeffrey Carroll, three of eight by guard Lindy Waters and two of three by guard Kendall Smith. Smith was the catalyst for the Cowboys win by scoring 24 points while forward Cameron McGriff came up big with 20 points and nine rebounds.
In the first game against the Cowboys, Baylor limited Oklahoma State’s starting lineup to 20 points. The Cowboys scored 40 off the bench as McGriff scored 16 and Tavarius Shine hit 14, but they couldn’t overcome Lecomte’s hot shooting.
“They’re coming off a great game, which they really played well,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “And to win in Allen Fieldhouse is a great accomplishment. So they’ll be confident and have momentum. At the same time we got a win, so we’re excited and hopefully we can build from that momentum.”
Stringing together consecutive wins has been elusive for the Bears since Big 12 play began with a 77-53 loss to Texas Tech on Dec. 29 in Lubbock. They’ve been on the cusp of winning a lot of Big 12 games, but have dropped three-point decisions to Kansas, West Virginia and TCU and lost a 98-96 thriller last week to Oklahoma.
The Bears’ win over the Cyclones snapped a four-game losing streak, but center Jo Lual-Acuil said they never lost their confidence.
“Did the swag ever leave?” Lual-Acuil said. “We’re a really positive team. It was really hard losing those games but we did a good job of staying together and staying positive. We watch the film and learn from it. Obviously a win does a lot for everybody. It changes the mood. But the biggest thing now is that win is done with. Our main focus is to get that win (against Oklahoma State).”
With eight regular season games remaining, the Bears still believe it’s not too late to put together a winning streak and reach their fifth straight NCAA tournament. The Bears host No. 10 Kansas on Saturday at the Ferrell Center.
“Obviously we lost a lot of games, but if you really watch the games you can tell we just didn’t finish,” Lecomte said. “Kansas, West Virginia, whatever, we know we can beat these dudes. We didn’t end the game well and I think we learned a lot from that. We know the Big 12 from top to bottom is really good. We’re really good and can beat anybody but we’ve got to finish the games. I think we’re learning a lot from our losses.”
After dealing with numerous injuries most of the season, the Bears have been healthy in recent games and have played a nine-man rotation. Guard Jake Lindsey is expected to make his third straight start in place of King McClure.
“We’ve shown capabilities of different players getting hot and scoring,” Drew said. “We just need more consistency out of that. Again, if we take care of the basketball, we keep getting quality looks, we keep rebounding at a level we’ve been rebounding, and then the defense is 5-on-5 instead of in transition, then we can beat anybody.”