No. 23 Baylor runs over Sam Houston State
After a pair of losses to ranked foes last week, No. 23 Baylor got back on track Monday thanks to a balanced scoring effort. Six Bears posted double-figure point totals as Baylor raced past Sam Houston State 84-56 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.
Baylor (6-2) lost at then-No. 21 Xavier and at home against then-No. 8 Wichita State last week. However, the Bears stopped the short skid by asserting themselves early against the Bearkats.
“A lot better feeling in the locker room after two losses,” Bears coach Scott Drew said. “It was great to see six guys in double figures and great to see 18 assists (on 29 baskets). Obviously, after a tough loss, you have to play the next game, and it’s not same feeling. This wasn’t against a ranked team and wasn’t a nationally televised game with all the hype.
“I thought the upperclassmen did a great job of making sure we came out intense, focused and set the tone early.”
Baylor grabbed a 22-point lead when guard Manu Lecomte nailed a 3-pointer early in the second half, and the Bears never let the Bearkats climb back in the contest. Forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and forward Nuni Omit also had 15 to lead Baylor. The Bears had six players in double figures. Forward Tristan Clark scored 14, Lecomte finished with 12, and guard Jake Lindsey and forward Mark Vital each added 11.
“It was great to come back and have a chance to get a quick turnaround and get a chance to feel better about ourselves,” Lual-Acuil said. “Coming off two losses in a row, we knew we needed to bounce back and the team did a great job of playing with energy and our defense was great tonight.”
Guard Chris Galbreath scored 24 and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Sam Houston State (5-4). However, he was the only Bearkat in double digits in either category, as the team made just 5 of 26 attempts from 3-point range.
“Obviously, disappointed giving up 84 points and getting basically beat by 30,” Sam Houston State coach Jason Hooten said. “As crazy as it sounds, though, we executed to a T against that zone. I was very proud of our execution, got wide-open shots. I think if we make 10 out of 26 threes it is a totally different game.”
Drew added, “In our two losses, we didn’t defend the three-point line or we defended it and they made contested shots, either way, they made them and we didn’t. We really tried to make a conscious effort to shoot the three, but we also try to get the ball inside first. In games like this, sometimes you can forget about the inside.”
Baylor’s defense kept Sam Houston State from making a field goal for seven minutes in the first half, allowing the Bears to take control. Baylor stretched a 12-11 lead to 24-12 as Omot kick-started the offense with a 3-pointer and dunk.
Guard Albert Almanza broke the Bearkats’ drought with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The Bears kept coming with a 16-2 run to open up their largest lead of the first half. Lual-Acuil made a pair of free throws to put Baylor ahead 40-17 with 1:40 left before the break.
Sam Houston State finished the first half on a mini run as guard John Dewey drained three free throws with three seconds left on the clock. Then Omot committed a turnover, allowing Almanza time to hit a trey that cut Baylor’s lead to 40-25 at halftime. Omot led Baylor with 10 points in the first 20 minutes.
Galbreath scored the Bearkats’ first eight points but then managed just a single tally for the final 14:01 of the first half. He picked up his second foul with 6:31 left and sat until the second half.
NOTES: Baylor won at least six of its first eight games for the fifth consecutive season and the 11th time in 12 seasons. ... Bears F Nuni Omot reached double figures in scoring for the first time in five games. His five field goals were a career high, and he matched his career high with three 3-pointers. ... Baylor won its 31st consecutive regular-season game against an unranked foe. ... The Bears oppose Randall University on Saturday in Fort Hood, Texas. ... Sam Houston State is off until a Dec. 13 game at Ole Miss.