By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Through the 12 non-conference games, Baylor sophomore forward Terry Maston was only marginally more productive than he was as a freshman when he was limited to mop-up duty.
But instead of being overwhelmed by the step up in competition, he's blossomed into a surprising force in the paint.
The 6-foot-7 Maston matched his career high in the first half and finished with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and a block as the 22nd-ranked Bears throttled the TCU Horned Frogs, 82-54, Wednesday night before a crowd of 5,764 at the Ferrell Center.
"We're feeding him spinach at pregame," said Baylor head coach Scott Drew, whose team improved to 13-3 overall and 3-1 in league play. "Credit the upperclassmen for helping to bring him along. He's always been a skilled play and always had a lot of potential. They're impressing on him how much they need him and how good he can be."
In a pivotal stretch at the end of the first half, when the Bears erased a three-point deficit, Maston and senior forward Taurean Prince combined for every point in a 13-0 run to give Baylor a 41-31 lead at the break.
Prince started it with a floater in the lane, then hit a jumper that gave the Bears the lead for good. Point guard Lester Medford fed Maston for a layup, then Al Freeman dished to him for a soft baseline jump, followed by a Prince 3-pointer.
And then in the final seconds before the break, Maston took a pass from Medford and knocked in a driving shot off the glass to cap off the run and put Baylor up by 10 at the break.
"We got out and started running and saw what worked as a team and started getting stops," said Maston, who is averaging 11.3 points in conference play. "That really helped us on the offensive end, brought confidence to us. The game just came to us, and we ran away with it in the second half."
In addition to Maston's presence, the flip seemed to switch for the Bears when they changed from the zone to a tight man-to-man defense with 3 ½ minutes to go in the half. Over that last stretch, TCU (9-7, 1-3) missed all five shots, turned it over once and was shut out.
"If we had known (the man defense) would have had that kind of impact, we would have done it at the beginning of the game," Drew said. "But it's helpful to always have different backup game plans and different thoughts, because the game never goes how you envisioned it from the start."
With Medford assisting on each of Baylor's first five buckets, the Bears got out to a good start and took an 11-4 lead at the 15:09 mark on a Rico Gathers layup. But the Frogs answered with a 10-0 run and went up 14-11 on a baseline jumper by Vladimir Brodziansky.
"When they do what they're told to do, we usually have some success," said TCU coach Trent Johnson. "That's the nature of dealing with young people. Sometimes, they think they're smarter than the rest of us older people that have been around forever."
The Horned Frogs led by as many as five, but that was long forgotten by the 7:50 mark in the second half when Gathers gave the Bears a 29-point lead, 68-39. Gathers finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Johnathan Motley had 10 points, five boards and two blocks.
For the second straight game, Baylor's bench dominated the other team's reserves and had a 43-13 edge. The Bears also controlled the glass, finishing with a 36-19 difference on the boards.
"That starts with me and people like (Maston) coming in and snagging rebounds, and then Motley," Gathers said. "And it helps that our guards come in and get rebounds as well. When you're rebounding as a team and doing things like that to win games, that's what's going to help you down the road, especially when you're getting to go on the road to places like Lubbock."
Baylor, now tied for second and a game back of first-place West Virginia in the Big 12 standings, will face Texas Tech (11-4, 1-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Lubbock in a game that will be televised by FOX Sports Southwest.