By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Baylor got more than it could have ever expected from Jo Lual-Acuil after the 7-footer missed the last game with a sprained foot.
And it still wasn't enough.
After sitting out last Friday's loss to Texas Tech, ending his streak of 47 consecutive starts, Lual-Acuil came back to log 42 minutes and notch his seventh double-double of the season with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
But, 16th-ranked TCU (13-1, 1-1) used its inside-outside balance to pull out an 81-78 overtime victory over the Bears Tuesday night before a crowd of 5,776 at the Ferrell Center.
"When you're up at the end, you need to finish those off," said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team fell to 10-4 and 0-2 in conference for just the second time in the last 11 years. "The good thing is we're getting healthier and we made big strides from our last game. Hopefully now we can keep heading down that road. Knock on wood, we're able to practice with the guys that we've got from here on out so we can get some rhythm and chemistry and keep making some adjustments."
The Bears also got a big game from 6-8 senior forward Terry Maston, who had 20 points and nine rebounds off the bench after not scoring against Tech in his return from a broken hand. Baylor outrebounded TCU, 45-34, and finished with a 52-38 edge on points in the paint.
"(I was) feeding off the energy (Lual-Acuil) brought, especially playing 42 minutes. That's a lot," said Maston, who was 10-of-15 from the floor. "I was just feeding off him and Mark Vital and Manu (Lecomte) and Jake (Lindsey) and King (McClure). They helped me get in a rhythm and more importantly just confidence. I ended up having a good game, but I just want to come back next game and play even better."
TCU, bouncing back from a one-point loss at home to Oklahoma, picked up its first win in 12 tries against Baylor in Big 12 play. The Horned Frogs showed tremendous balance with all five starters scoring in double figures, led by 6-11 center Vlad Brodziansky with 18.
"Every game is going to be like this," TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. "Obviously, we lost a one-pointer with a 13-point lead (against OU), and this time we had a 12-point lead and (Baylor) fought back and battled, as you might expect. We certainly should understand that. . . . Proud of our guys, proud of how we fought back and got down and battled through it."
Ultimately, the difference was 3-point shooting - TCU was 8-of-20 while holding Baylor to a dismal 1-of-12 outside the arc. Lecomte and McClure were a combined 1-for-17 overall and 1-for-8 from distance.
"Normally, you want to be at a point going into conference where you know yourself and know exactly what you're doing," Drew said. "Unfortunately, with our situation, we haven't had that chance. I think we'll continue to adjust, continue to grow. It's just hard to get wins unless you're really on your `A' game. But, we're getting closer. We've still got a lot of games left to play."
TCU guards Desmond Bane and Jaylen Fisher hit bookend 3-pointers in an 11-0 run that gave TCU a 27-16 at the 6:32 mark in the first half as the Bears went 6 ½ minutes without hitting a field goal.
Baylor got a little moment with a tip-in by Lual-Acuil at the buzzer, making it an eight-point game at the break, 36-28.
And when the Bears shifted to more of an aggressive man-to-man defense in the second half, it was the Frogs' turn to go cold. They missed four shots from the field and two from the line and also turned it over twice in a 14-0 run that gave the Bears a 49-46 lead.
Baylor's run started with two free throws by Vital and ended with a pair from Lecomte after Dixon was hit with a technical foul at the 11:48 mark.
"We've got to address the fact that we're having 12-, 13-point leads, and these teams seem to get more aggressive with that lead we have," Dixon said. "We have to respond to it in a better way and finish it out. That's the biggest thing I think we can take from it."
The Bears took their biggest lead of the night, 60-56, on a Lecomte free throw with 3:53 left in regulation, but TCU responded with a 6-0 run and took a 62-60 lead on a tip-in by Brodziansky off a miss by JD Miller.
After Maston scored off an offensive rebound of his own, Miller got a backside tip-in off a miss by Brodziansky to give the Frogs the lead with 59 seconds on the clock. Lindsey tied it back up on a driving layup through traffic, and then Bane missed an open 3-pointer that would have won it.
"I didn't call timeout. I didn't want them to set their defense," Dixon said. "We got a wide-open 3 by our best shooter. We did what we needed to do. . . . When the shot doesn't go, we don't blame, we don't question, we don't doubt. You just continue to do the right things."
In a back-and-forth first three minutes in overtime, the lead changed hands three times, with the Bears going up 74-72 on a pair of free throws by Lual-Acuil at the 1:52 mark. Brodziansky hit a 3 off a dish from Bane to give the Frogs the lead for good, then Kouat Noi provided the exclamation point with a dunk off an inbounds pass from Waco native Kenrich Williams.
"That put the stamp on it right there," said Williams, who had 12 points, seven assists and three assists in his homecoming. "I'm just excited to get the (win) in Waco. I feel like I won a championship or something."
Baylor finishes off a two-game home stand with a matchup against Texas (10-4, 1-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Longhorns bounced back from a home loss against Kansas to beat Iowa State, 74-70, in overtime Monday night in Ames.