LUBBOCK — No Jo, no offensive flow.
With center Jo Lual-Acuil sitting out with a sprained foot, Baylor’s offense looked lost, unfocused and out of sync in Friday night’s Big 12 opener.
The No. 18 Bears didn’t have much presence in the paint and were often forced to take long shots as the 30-second shot clock was expiring.
With Baylor displaying such offensive inefficiency, No. 22 Texas Tech’s 77-53 blowout win was no surprise before 12,827 fans at United Supermarkets Arena.
It was Baylor’s most lopsided loss since a 102-74 decision against Kansas on Jan. 2, 2016. The Bears’ 37.3 shooting percentage matched their season low in a 69-62 loss to Wichita State on Dec. 2 at the Ferrell Center.
The Bears (10-3) clearly missed Lual-Acuil’s 15.1 points and Big 12-leading 10 rebounds per game. The senior center wore a boot on his left foot Friday night, and he’s listed as day to day.
“That’s a huge factor when you’re missing one of your key players and a captain,” said Baylor guard King McClure. “But we can’t blame the loss on that. We didn’t perform to the way we know we can play. We’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask what we could have done better individually. We need a short term memory because we’ve got 17 more (Big 12) games.”
The Red Raiders (12-1) dominated in nearly every area of the game as they shot 50 percent and controlled the boards by a 39-21 margin. They collected 16 assists while Baylor got just one assist while committing 14 turnovers.
“I didn’t think that (one assist) was possible,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “I thought we did a bad job coaching and playing, and I thought Tech’s defense was good. When you’ve got one guy over 6-9, it makes it tough to rebound, makes it tough to run offense, makes it tough to get inside and score.”
After missing the last six games with a broken right hand, Baylor senior forward Terry Maston came off the bench and played 21 minutes. But he was clearly rusty as he missed all four shots, including two airballs in the first half.
“T.J. (Maston) just coming back, that wasn’t T.J.,” Drew said. “We were trying to get some other guys opportunities. Hopefully it will be a great learning experience for us. Hopefully we’ll get a lot better. Nobody likes the feeling that we have after today’s game. But really credit Texas Tech, though, because Coach (Chris) Beard’s done a great job. I think they’re very talented, they really play hard, they really compete.”
The Red Raiders featured balanced scoring as Keenan Evans scored 18 points while Zhaire Smith hit 15, Jarrett Culver 13 and Niem Stevenson 11. Texas Tech hit nine of 22 3-pointers, including four of seven by Evans, while drilling 16 of 21 free throws.
Making his first start, Baylor redshirt freshman Mark Vital scored a team-high 12 points while McClure and freshman Tristan Clark contributed 10 apiece. But point guard Manu Lecomte hit just three of 11 shots for eight points while getting no assists and committing three turnovers.
Despite their poor shooting, the Bears managed to stay close to the Red Raiders in the early minutes. With Lecomte hitting an outside shot and driving for a basket, Baylor cut Texas Tech’s lead to 15-9 with 10:20 left in the first half.
But the Bears didn’t score for the next six minutes as the Red Raiders went on a 14-0 run to open up a 29-9 lead.
Culver started the streak with a drive for a basket before Tommy Hamilton drained a 3-pointer. Following a Maston airball, Culver drove for a basket to give the Red Raiders a 22-9 lead.
“We were speeding ourselves up,” Vital said. “Some of the things we were doing we were just trying to get the first shot we looked at. We could have taken better shots.”
McClure missed a shot for the Bears and Davide Moretti and Zach Smith each hit a pair of free throws for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech closed the run with Zhaire Smith’s free throw and Brandone Francis’ drive for a basket.
McClure finally broke Baylor’s drought with a 3-pointer with 4:13 left in the first half followed by Lecomte’s trey. But the Red Raiders kept pounding the ball inside for points before Stevenson closed the first half by draining a 3-pointer to give the Red Raiders a 40-19 lead.
The Red Raiders’ onslaught continued in the second half as they opened up a 58-30 lead with 12:39 remaining.
Texas Tech continued to burn the Bears inside and outside as Hamilton and Culver buried 3-pointers while Zhaire Smith pounded the paint for a pair of baskets.
“We got smacked and we didn’t respond well,” McClure said. “They came out and punched us in the mouth and we didn’t put up a fight. It was embarrassing but we’ll bounce back and put this behind us.”