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MBB Races Past Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

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By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation

​After setting school records for field goal percentage and 3-point shooting percentage in a 41-point blowout victory in Friday's season opener, the 25th-ranked Baylor men found the going a lot tougher in Monday's matchup against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

​The Bears (2-0) missed their first eight shots from outside the 3-point arc and seven of their first eight from the free throw line, but used a 10-0 second-half run and a 23-point night by senior point guard Manu Lecomte to finally pull away from the Islanders, 70-46.

​"You come off a game where everything is so easy and you're making shots, and now you're missing shots and playing a lot more defense . . . it just starts to build and you get frustrated," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "Each game is going to be different. That's why you play a non-conference schedule, so you can get used to things that are different."

​One thing that wasn't different was Lecomte. After a slow start that saw him miss his first two 3-pointers, Lecomte drained three of his last five and was 10-for-10 from the line to score 23 points after a 22-point outing in the opener.

​"Coach Drew trusts me at the end of the shot clock to have the ball in my hands, coming off ball screens, one-on-one, whatever," he said. ​Drew said Lecomte "really changed the tide" when he started knocking down 3-pointers and hitting his free throws.

​In that 10-0 second-half run, Lecomte drained a 3-pointer, made a couple free throws and then fed Nuni Omot for a trey that turned a two-point lead into a 12-point cushion in a hurry, 40-28.

​"I thought we played well in the first half, we just didn't make shots," Lecomte said. "We still played good defense and made some plays, just didn't make shots. . . . (In the second half), there was just an energy level on both ends of the floor."

​Baylor didn't hit its first 3-pointer of the night until Lecomte finally took the lid off the bucket with a long-distance trey at the 2:05 mark that helped the Bears take a 28-22 lead into the locker room. There were four ties and 14 lead changes in a first half that really saw both teams struggle on the offensive end.

​Things didn't start off that well in the second half, either, with the Bears missing their first six shots and going over three minutes without scoring a single point until a pair of free throws by Lecomte.

​"With them switching on every ball screen, we hadn't really faced that," said senior forward Terry Maston, who posted his second straight double-double with 12 points and 10 boards. "That was something we had to adjust to. Otherwise, it was on us to make shots and block out, because they did a really good job of rebounding and being very physical on the offensive and defensive glass."

​Baylor finally got it going on the offensive end in the second half, with Omot providing a SportsCenter exclamation point with an impressive throw-down dunk over 6-8 forward Elijah Schmidt with 2:14 left off a dish from Lecomte.

​"He had one a little similar (in practice), but nothing like that," Maston said. "He just kept going up and up and up."

​Drew actually missed it live, so he'll have to catch the replay or maybe watch the ESPN SportsCenter highlights.

​"I was talking to some people at the end of the bench, and then the next thing I knew I got trampled," he said. "But, Nuni has those capabilities in practice to throw something down that will get your attention. Mark (Vital has) had several of those, too."

​In fact, the 6-5 redshirt freshman forward followed up Omot's with one of his own off an assist from Maston the next time down the floor.

​Omot finished with 12 points, while Joseph Kilgore lead the Islanders (1-1) with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

​Baylor finishes out a season-opening three-game home stand and goes for Drew's 300th career victory when the Bears host Alcorn State at 8 p.m. Friday.



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