By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
After getting off to a disastrous start and falling behind by 19 in last week's 56-54 home-court loss to Kansas State, the No. 6/8 Baylor Bears were determined to not let that happen again.
And it showed.
Sophomore guard King McClure hit three 3-pointers in the first nine minutes as the Bears (22-3, 9-3) raced out to an early double-digit lead and blew out the TCU Horned Frogs, 70-52, Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 7,906 at the Ferrell Center.
"Coach (Scott) Drew really emphasized getting off to a good start, because last time at home against Kansas State, you know what happened there. We came out flat," said McClure, who scored all 13 of his points in the first half, hitting 5-of-6 from the floor and 3-of-4 outside the arc. "This morning, we came in at 9 and dressed out and had a full shoot-around, and as a result we played with energy and got off to a good start."
Johnathan Motley was virtually unstoppable, hitting 12-of-15 and finishing with 25 points for his eighth straight double-digit outing and 20th of the season.
"Mot was tremendous," Drew said. "He's had some good games, but when you shoot 12-of-15, those are special. It was fun to watch him."
Not so much fun for the Horned Frogs (17-8, 6-6), who simply had no answer for the 6-foot-10 junior forward. Named to the Late Season Top 20 for the Wooden Award, Motley has averaged 21.3 points over the last eight games.
"I'm just impressed with how much better he's gotten," TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. "I don't know his history as much, but it seems to me that guys that play hard get better. And he fits in that category. . . . He got putbacks, runs the floor, and we couldn't get him in any foul trouble. And that's something that allows guys to just go and play."
As good as the Bears were on offense, hitting 53.6 percent from the floor and 39 percent from 3-point range, it was their defense that carried the day. They held TCU to 23 percent shooting in the first half and 37.7 percent for the game and dominated the boards, 36-26.
"People have got to miss shots when you hold them to 23 percent," Drew said. "And they missed some. Second half, we weren't as good (defensively), and they made some. But for the game, you hold them to 37 percent and you hold them to 52 points, you like your chances. Coming off last Saturday's home game, we were just focused on our energy and being more intense and better. And we were able to do that."
Three weeks ago, when these same two teams hooked up in Fort Worth, TCU held a one-point lead with less than five minutes to play before falling, 62-53. This time, the Bears never trailed.
"We definitely were expecting better," said TCU junior forward Kenrich Williams, who played at nearby University High School. "It's a little bit of an embarrassment, with me being from Waco."
After Motley scored six of the team's first nine points, McClure heated up with back-to-back 3-pointers, then Ishmail Wainright got a tip-in off a Motley miss that looked more like a pass off the glass. Just over 10 minutes into the game, the Frogs found themselves down, 17-6, after scoring just one bucket in a seven-minute stretch.
"We put ourselves in way too big of a hole," Dixon said.
TCU had another scoring drought in the last five minutes, getting outscored 9-2 and falling behind 32-17 at the break.
McClure, getting his first start for suspended junior guard Al Freeman, said he was "living out my dream."
"It means a lot to my confidence," said McClure, who's scored a combined 23 points in back-to-back starts. "As a kid, you grow up wanting to start for a top-10 team, and I'm living out my dream and not taking anything for granted. I'm going out there playing hard and helping my team defensively and trying to lead my team to a victory."
Other than scoring the first two buckets of the second half, the Frogs never made a serious run and were never able to whittle it down to a single-digit deficit.
While McClure didn't even take a shot in the second half, Motley and junior point guard Manu Lecomte picked up the slack. Motley had 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half, missing just two of his 10 shots, with Lecomte draining two second-half treys and scoring 12 of his 17 points in the last 20 minutes.
Williams said Baylor's inside-out balance is tough to defend against, when the Bears have "great ball movement. They got the ball inside, they found guys outside, they made good passes out of the post. And they're a pretty good 3-point shooting team."
Baylor built its lead to as many as 22 points, 64-42, when Lecomte's pull-up jumper in the lane rolled around the rim and off the glass before tickling the nets.
The loudest cheer of the night, though, was when sophomore forward Jonathan Davis checked in for Jo Lual-Acuil with exactly one minute left. The former walk-on from Argyle, Texas, was awarded a scholarship three days ago before the Bears' game at Oklahoma State.
"I definitely didn't relax, but these are rare," Drew said of Baylor's second double-digit conference win of the year and first since the league opener at Oklahoma back in December.
In a quick turnaround, the Bears will face Texas Tech (16-9, 4-8) at 6 p.m. Monday in Lubbock. The Red Raiders had a chance to knock off third-ranked Kansas Saturday, but freshman Josh Jackson hit one of two free throws with 2.8 seconds left to lift the Jayhawks to an 80-79 win.