No. 21 Baylor keeps Texas Southern winless
WACO, Texas — Texas Southern coach Mike Davis could only shake his head and acknowledge that his team didn’t have an answer for Baylor forward Nuni Omot.
Omot opened the game with an alley-oop dunk and went on to make 10 of 12 field goal attempts for 22 points as he led No. 21 Baylor to a 99-68 victory over Texas Southern on Thursday night at the Ferrell Center.
“I thought (Omot) was phenomenal,” Davis said. “I thought he was just amazing tonight. He started the game off driving and then he had the 3 in the corner. He was special.”
With Omot leading the way in an efficient offensive effort, Baylor shot 66 percent from the field and pulled away from the Tigers in the second half.
Guard Manu Lecomte joined Omot with 22 points for the Bears (8-2). Lecomte also had six assists, including the pass on the game-opening alley-oop, and forward Jo Lual-Acuil added 18 points.
Guard Demontrae Jefferson scored 24 points to lead Texas Southern (0-10). Center Trayvon Reed added 12 and guard Donte’ Clark finished with 10.
Baylor buried Texas Southern with a 17-0 run in the second half as the Tigers went more than five minutes without scoring.
“When we got that separation before the end of the half and then second half, the first five minutes I thought we were outstanding,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “That kind of set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Omot, guard King McClure and Lecomte each nailed 3-pointers during the second-half spurt and Lual-Acuil capped it with a jumper that put Baylor ahead 62-37 with 14:15 left.
Reed hit a pair of free throws to break the scoring drought for the Tigers. But Texas Southern couldn’t cool off the Bears’ offense.
Baylor shot 80 percent from the field, including 3 of 3 from beyond the arc in the first eight minutes after halftime.
“Every time we come here, it’s like we don’t want to come back out in the second half,” Davis said. “That’s how hard they play. Baylor played really physical, they’re a really hard-nosed team. The second half has always been difficult for us here.”
Texas Southern has played all 10 of its games on the road this season and Thursday night’s contest at Baylor was the Tigers’ first game in their home state.
Baylor grabbed a double-digit lead in the first half using an 8-0 run that began when Lecomte completed a four-point play at the 7:00 mark.
Omot followed with a steal and a dunk just seven seconds after Lecomte’s free throw. Forward Tristan Clark added a tip-in to give Baylor a 32-22 lead with 5:57 left before the break.
Lecomte returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s game against Randall with a thumb injury.
“It was really good having Manu back,” Omot said. “Obviously, he’s one of our main guys. What he brings to our team is really special. And having him out there, you can notice a difference when he’s playing. Just like every other guy on our team, we love playing with Manu. So, it was good to have him back.”
Texas Southern fought back as Clark and Jefferson each hit 3-pointers to cut the Bears’ lead to 36-30.
But Baylor scored the last five points of the first half as McClure hit a 3-pointer and Lecomte made a fade-away jumper for a 43-32 edge at the break.
NOTES: Baylor boosted its all-time record against Texas Southern to 11-0. The Bears, who were playing the Tigers for the fourth straight season, defeated Texas Southern 89-63 last season. ... The Tigers were playing their third ranked opponent after facing No. 18 Gonzaga and No. 3 Kansas earlier in the campaign. Texas Southern has played two Big 12 opponents, two Pac 12 opponents and two ACC opponents. ... Baylor was playing its second of three non-conference games against Southwestern Athletic Conference opponents this season. The Bears defeated Alcorn State 78-61 on Nov. 17 and will play Southern on Dec. 20.