By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
FORT WORTH - Baylor's plan to make TCU point guard Alex Robinson less of a facilitator and more of a scorer backfired on the Bears.
Robinson did both, dishing off six assists, hitting 8-of-10 from the floor and finishing two off his career high with 22 points as the Horned Frogs (20-9, 8-8) completed a season series sweep with an 82-72 win Saturday afternoon at Schollmaier Arena.
"We wanted him to finish over length," said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team fell to 17-12 overall and 7-9 in the Big 12 with its second straight loss, "and they did a good job mixing up ball screens where some of their slips gave us issues and got him an angle. And when he got an angle, he was good at getting to the free throw line and finishing. We didn't do a good enough job there."
TCU won the battle at point guard, with Robinson scoring 13 points above his scoring average while holding Baylor senior Manu Lecomte to a dismal 1-of-10 shooting from the field and a season-low five points. In two games against TCU, Lecomte had a combined 13 points and was just 2-of-21 from the field.
"Let's credit TCU's length for bothering him," Drew said. "I thought the second half, Manu really did a good job getting the ball inside. He's a point guard, so his job as a point guard is to run his team. I thought the bigs were rolling, and he did a really good job feeding them."
Robinson, who's averaged 12.3 points in the 12 games that sophomore point guard Jaylen Fisher's been out with a knee injury, said his scoring is "just the flow in the game."
"If I have an open look, I'm going to take it," he said. "I'm unselfish, I'm going to get my guys shots. However they want to defend, that's on them."
After falling behind by double digits in the first half, the Bears got within 33-28 by the break and had a chance to make it even closer when Terry Maston missed a layup off a great feed from Jake Lindsey from about half court.
Continuing to take it inside, Baylor chipped away at the lead and went back on top, 57-56, for the first time since early in the first half when Mark Vital scored on a put-back and 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil hit a pair of free throws.
That lead lasted all of nine seconds. Redshirt freshman forward Kouat Noi nailed a corner trey off an assist from Robinson, then buried another one from the same spot for bookend 3-pointers in a 12-4 run that pushed the Frogs' lead back to 68-61.
"It kind of hurt when he hit it," said Vital, who had 12 points, five rebounds, three assists and no turnovers. "We fought real hard to get there, and then he hit that 3, and we were like, 'We're still going to keep fighting.'''
The Bears did keep fighting, making it a one-possession game, 68-65, with 4:42 left on a Lual-Acuil layup and two free throws by the 7-footer. But they missed nine of their last 11 from the field, including dunk attempts by both Vital and Maston, and TCU got an extended possession with two offensive rebounds on the same trip down the court.
"I thought it was a good game until the last six minutes, and then that's when they started making their run, making some shots," Drew said. "We missed a couple, and unfortunately we weren't able to get second-chance points during that time. I thought we did a great job getting the ball in the paint, 50-32. And we were good from the free throw line (16-of-18), I just wish we would have got there a lot more. Normally when you get the ball in the paint, you do. But, we didn't."
Much like the first game, which TCU won in overtime (81-78), Baylor was able to dominate the inside. Lual-Acuil and Maston combined for 48 points and helped the Bears crush it on the boards, 45-21, the first time around.
The Horned Frogs actually had a small rebounding edge, 34-29, this time around. But, Baylor got almost all of its scoring from "the bigs," with Lual-Acuil (22), Clark (14), Vital (12) and Maston (eight) accounting for 56 of the 72 points.
"I feel like I had to step up," said Clark, who had scored just three points combined in the previous four games. "Because the energy was down, I knew I had to step up, especially at my position, and try to give the team a boost a little bit."
TCU coach Jamie Dixon said the Frogs tried double-teaming in the post area, "and it wasn't as good as we thought it would be."
"Eventually, I thought we wore them down, and our bench was really effective for us," Dixon said. "We took away the 3's, which we wanted to do. We've been working on it, and we held them to two (of eight from 3-point range). The defense is getting better, and the bench was really good."
The Bears return home for a Senior Day matchup against Oklahoma (16-11, 6-9) at 8 p.m. Tuesday before finishing the regular season on the road at Kansas State (20-8, 9-6) next Saturday, March 3, in Manhattan.
"The great thing is we have Senior Night coming up. We have four seniors, and I know we want to put our best foot forward, No. 1," Drew said. "And No. 2, as long as the ball is bouncing, the great thing in the Big 12 is every game is a quality-win opportunity."