By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Scott Drew had to figure maybe it wasn't Baylor's night when Kansas State's 6-9 center Makol Mawien banked in a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats their first double-digit lead of the night.
"This is the kind of night when you see that stuff happen," Drew said after a frustrating 90-83 home-court loss that dropped the Bears to 12-8 overall and tied for last in the Big 12 at 2-6.
"I think we were all embarrassed we didn't have more fight to us tonight, the way we started the first and second half. I don't know if we were tired, the turnaround (from playing Saturday at Kansas), whatever. The bottom line is it was unacceptable. You don't get opportunities to go back and redo things, so we just need to make sure that doesn't happen again."
It wasn't Mawien's second made 3-pointer of the season that beat the Bears, it was the fact that they couldn't contain K-State's inside-out duo of Dean Wade and Barry Brown. The reigning Big 12 Player of the Week, Wade finished with 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and three blocks, while Brown poured in 34 points and was a perfect 12-of-12 from the line.
"Obviously, we jumped on Barry's and Dean's back," said K-State coach Bruce Weber, whose team has won three in a row and four of its last five to move into a tie for second in the league at 15-5 overall and 5-3 in conference. "I know Dean got player of the week in the Big 12 and nationally, but I told him before the game, `Barry was so good last week, I don't know how you could pick or choose one or the other.'''
The Wildcats came out firing on all cylinders, hitting eight of their first 10 shots and going up 22-10 on a Wade layup seven minutes into the game. They stretched it to 29-13 when Brown lobbed inside to Mawien for an easy layup.
"We didn't have any energy, and normally in zone if you don't have energy that can get ugly," Drew said of his decision to get out of the zone early in the game. "They did a great job of making key plays and key shots where we could never really get over that hump. They did a great job of punching us early and then punching us in the second half."
The Bears actually got off the mat after that first punch, closing the opening half on a 21-10 run and pulling within 45-40 on Jo Lual-Acuil's 3-pointer with six seconds left. They got a chance to make it even tighter when Jake Lindsey took a charge from Brown on the inbounds play, but Lual-Acuil missed a jumper at the buzzer.
Instead of building on that momentum, the Bears struggled out of the gates again with three turnovers and two missed shots as K-State quickly got it back to a double-digit lead.
"That's the one that really hurt you," Drew said. "In the first half, you really did a great job of battling back. The first five minutes of the second half was the time to re-establish ourselves and get back into things, and we weren't able to do that."
K-State led by as many as 19, with Brown finishing off a 16-3 run with a layup that put the Wildcats comfortably ahead, 71-52, at the 10-minute mark.
"When they made a little push, we talked about really picking up the intensity on defense, taking away stuff," Weber said. "We got about three or four steals in a row and got some in transition. Now, you've got it in double digits, and then it's just, `Please, clock, move faster.'''
Terry Maston, King McClure and Nuni Omot sparked an 11-0 run that got the Bears back in at 73-66, but Brown answered with a dagger 3. Every time Baylor looked like it might get over the hump, Brown seemed to come up with an answer.
"Tonight, we were trying to find a group that was motivated and inspired," Drew said. "I thought Jake really did a great job rallying us and trying to motivate everybody. But as a group, collectively, we weren't what we've been this year. That's disappointing in a home game."
While K-State's scoring was predominantly the 1-2 punch of Wade and Brown, Baylor had six players score in double figures, led by senior point guard Manu Lecomte with 18 points and six assists.
Lual-Acuil had 15 points, freshman forward Tristan Clark had 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, McClure scored all 11 of his points in the second half, and Omot and Maston had 10 points apiece.
Baylor goes on the road for its next two, facing No. 20/22 Florida (14-5) at 11 a.m. Saturday in Gainesville and No. 11/12 Oklahoma (14-4, 4-3) at 8 p.m. next Tuesday, Jan. 30, in Norman.
"You play extremely well at Kansas and you play extremely well at West Virginia, and you have nothing to show for it," Drew said. "Emotionally, physically, that drains you. At the same time, it doesn't give you an excuse. You've got to come out and fight. . . . With our team, when we do, we can beat anybody. When we don't, we don't have a chance."