Manu Lecomte has always been a superb 3-point shooter, but the gifted senior guard has taken his long range shooting to another level in the last two games.
Lecomte buried six of nine 3-pointers en route to a 22-point performance as No. 18 Baylor sailed to an 80-60 win over Southern on Wednesday night to extend its winning streak to five games.
Coming off a 7-for-13 3-point shooting performance in Sunday’s 118-86 win over Savannah State, Lecomte shot with great confidence again in the final pre-conference game before opening Big 12 play against No. 21 Texas Tech on Dec. 29 in Lubbock.
“I think my teammates did a great job finding me,” Lecomte said. “Coach (Scott) Drew also did a great job of running me off screens and stuff, and they can’t keep up. I think they just do a great job of setting me up and finding me when I’m wide open.”
The Bears (10-2) nailed 11 of 22 treys and shot 63.3 percent overall. King McClure hit two of three treys and scored 13 points while freshman Tristan Clark continued his impressive development with 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
“It’s definitely a process, but I’m getting more comfortable out there as we continue to play games in the nonconference,” Clark said. “I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’m getting better every day and learning from mistakes.”
Baylor’s biggest issue was 21 turnovers following an 18 turnover game against Savannah State. With the Jaguars (3-9) committing just six turnovers, they took 72 shots to Baylor’s 49.
“We do need to take care of the ball way more,” Lecomte said. “We had 21 turnovers and that’s way too much no matter who we play. They got more shots up than us because we didn’t take care of the ball. If we cut the turnovers down they don’t come back.”
Southern took an early 13-10 lead before the Bears went on a 13-0 run to take command.
Clark started the streak with a jumper before Jake Lindsey scored on a layup. After a pair of Nuni Omot free throws, Clark hit another basket before Lecomte found McClure for a layup. Lecomte’s 3-pointer gave the Bears a 23-13 lead with 8:58 remaining in the first half.
“The game plan, especially at the beginning of the game, is you want to go inside as much as you can,” Lecomte said. “They’re not missing down there, so you’ve got to keep feeding them. Then the whole defense collapses when they’re focusing on the inside, and that’s when we have our kick-out 3s. It makes it so much easier for the guards to shoot 3s at a good percentage.”
Southern ended the run with Jamar Sandifer’s 3-pointer, but Lecomte answered with a trey and McClure drove for a basket, drew a foul and hit the free throw to stretch Baylor’s lead to 29-16.
With Lecomte hitting another trey, the Bears went into halftime with a 39-27 lead.
But the Jaguars hung tough to open the second half as Eddie Reese hit a basket to cut the lead to 46-40. The Bears answered with an 8-0 run that began with 3-pointers by Lindsey and McClure before Mark Vital got loose for a slam to extend Baylor’s lead to 54-40.
The Bears continued to stretch their lead as Tyson Jolly drained a 3-pointer, Clark hit a pair of free throws and Vital drove for a basket to make it 66-46.
Baylor stayed hot as McClure drained a 3-pointer and Vital spun in the lane for a dunk to open up a 78-54 lead.
“Most importantly, going into Christmas we got the win,” Drew said. “And this Southern team is a team that’s played a lot of people close. They execute well, and they did a good job making it a more deliberate pace.”