AUSTIN — With his athleticism and skill, Jo Lual-Acuil is one of the most gifted players on the Baylor basketball team. But it was his instincts that paid off in a double overtime win against Texas.
Lual-Acuil perfectly read Manu Lecomte’s missed shot at the rim as he rebounded the ball and slammed it home with 8.2 seconds remaining to lift the Bears to a thrilling 74-73 win over Texas on Monday night at the Erwin Center.
The surging Bears (16-10, 6-7) won their fourth straight game while Texas (15-11, 5-8) dropped its third straight game and second to Baylor this season.
“The team is staying together and feeding off each other,” said Lual-Acuil, who collected 14 points and 11 rebounds. “It really takes a great team to win on the road in double overtime like we did. It shows how much toughness and grit we have, and I’m just proud of the team.”
Trailing 73-72 after Kerwin Roach hit a basket for Texas with 20 seconds remaining, Lecomte missed his drive to the basket when 6-11 Texas center Mo Bamba attempted to block the shot. But when Bamba slid over, Lual-Acuil was free to grab the rebound and slammed it through the rim.
“I knew Mo was going to come over and try to block Manu’s shot, so I just stayed on the other side,” Lual-Acuil said. “I was hoping for the ball to come off the rim the right way and I was able to go up and grab it.”
Roach missed a last-second shot as the Bears hung on for their second straight road win after beating Oklahoma State in Stillwater last Tuesday.
Terry Maston came off the bench to key Baylor’s win as he scored a career-high 26 points as he hit 12 of 17 field goals. He wanted to make up for a technical in the last minutes of regulation after Bamba blocked his shot. Maston responded by scoring six points in each of the two overtimes.
“I just think it was a stupid decision on my part, and I definitely didn’t want it to cost us the game because we’re in a spot where we need every game right now,” Maston said. “There was a little provoking going on. It did light a fire under us and definitely me, knowing I had to come back and help my team any way I could. I got hot and did something.”
The Bears played tremendous defense all night as Texas hit just 36.1 percent. The Bears also won the rebounding battle 46-34 despite 16 boards by Bamba.
Baylor coach Scott Drew was especially proud of his team for grinding out the win after an 80-64 win over No. 13 Kansas on Saturday at the Ferrell Center.
“Who’s not fighting for their lives, really?” said Drew. “I’ve got to give the upperclassmen a lot of credit because you have a big win on Saturday and human nature is there’s a little letdown. Everyone’s telling you, ‘great win, great job,’ you’re a little fatigued, you’re a little tired. And the upperclassmen really did a great job making sure we were hungry, we were focused.”
With the game tied at 56 at the end of regulation, Maston hit two baskets followed by two free throws to give the Bears a 62-58 lead in the first overtime.
But after Lecomte gave the Bears a 64-60 lead with an outside shot with 44.7 seconds remaining, Texas’ Matt Coleman and Roach each hit a pair of free throws to send the game into double overtime.
After Roach hit his free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining, Lecomte’s long desperation shot clanged off the rim.
After taking a 25-22 halftime lead, the Bears began creating more distance as the Longhorns continued to miss shots.
Lual-Acuil and Jake Lindsey scored inside to give the Bears a 29-24 lead, and then Maston took over by scoring Baylor’s next eight points.
Maston began his hot streak with a turnaround jumper and then stepped outside and nailed a shot. Maston got in the paint again and faked out Bamba for another basket. Maston closed out his scoring streak by hitting a fadeaway jumper against Dylan Osetkowski to give the Bears a 37-29 lead.
The Longhorns kept hanging close as Roach nailed a wide open jumper to cut Baylor’s lead to 44-41. But the Bears answered with a 7-2 run that became with Lecomte’s 3-pointer from the left corner to extend the lead to 51-43.
The Bears then worked the 30-second clock before King McClure drove for a layup. Lecomte found Maston for a basket to stretch the lead to 51-43 with 4:08 remaining.
But the Longhorns outscored Baylor 13-5 in the closing minutes of regulation to tie the game at 56-56 and send the game into overtime.
BEAR FACTS – Manu Lecomte was named Big 12 player of the week after scoring 18 points in both of the Bears’ wins over Oklahoma State and No. 13 Kansas last week. Lecomte hit seven of 12 shots against the Cowboys and six of 10 shots against the Jayhawks. He also dished out 10 assists in the two games.