By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Against Baylor's zone defense, "if you just take 3's all day, it's probably a recipe for disaster."
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall's team didn't shoot them all day, but the eighth-ranked Shockers (6-1) made them when they counted, hitting 10-of-16 for the game and a go-ahead trey by Conner Frankamp with 2:50 left as they pulled out a 69-62 victory over the No. 16 Bears (5-2) Saturday afternoon before a Ferrell Center crowd of 9,733.
"Defensively, we could have done some things a little bit better, identify shooters and get out to them a little quicker," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "But, you've got to credit them for making the shots. Ten for 16, that's hard to do if there's no defense on you, so that was the big difference."
Especially with Baylor hitting just 5-of-21 from long distance and 37 percent overall (22-of-59). The Bears struggled all day just trying to find a good shot against Wichita State's suffocating defense.
"That's what they do," said senior point guard Manu Lecomte, who was 3-for-8 from 3-point range and scored a team-high 15 points to go with three assists. "They like to get the ball out of the (point guard's) hands and then make us work on offense. I thought we did a good job of staying patient, too, and not rushing into a bad shot."
Baylor had won 46 consecutive non-conference home games, the second-longest streak in the nation, while the Shockers are now a national-best 42-6 in true road games over the last five seasons.
Wichita State had four players in double figures, led by Frankamp with 17 points and 5-for-8 shooting from outside the arc.
"He was getting the ball in rhythm, and that's because we were playing inside-out," Marshall said. "We have a phrase, `inside-out, never a doubt," and `tee it high, let it fly.' That's what (Frankamp) does. He's a scratch golfer. And Landry (Shamet), with seven assists, just one turnover, we were getting the ball where we wanted against the zone. That's so important, because they're so long and athletic. If you take 3's all day, it's probably a recipe for disaster."
Shamet and Darral Willis Jr. chipped in 11 points apiece for the Shockers, while 6-foot-8 senior center Shaquille Morris had 15 points.
"Shaq is a big dude," said redshirt freshman forward Mark Vital, who had eight points, seven rebounds, three steals and a block in 19 minutes off the bench. "I hit him one play and bounced right off of him. I was like, `Wow, I've got to hit him even harder.' Shaq is a really good player, he's tough and he's heavy, too."
Vital found out just how heavy with 6:16 left in the game when Morris fell on him after he got fouled by Willis on a drive to the basket. "Shaq fell on it, he's a big dude," Vital said.
The 6-5 Vital came up big with the Bears playing their first game without 6-8 senior forward Terry Maston, who broke his right (shooting) hand in Tuesday's 76-63 loss at Xavier.
"He was outstanding," Drew said. "He had a lot of energy and a lot of physicality, and that's what you need in a game like this. I was proud of what Mark was able to accomplish and do."
Wichita State came in with the nation's best rebounding margin at plus-18.2, a mark boosted by a 67-31 advantage on the boards in Tuesday's 112-66 win over Savannah State. Baylor had six offensive rebounds in the first five minutes and an early 12-5 edge on the boards, but the Shockers recovered to finish with a slight 38-36 edge.
Asked what was the difference on the boards the rest of the game, Marshall said, "Just being more grown men."
Shutout in the first half, Baylor 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil came back to hit 4-of-6 from the floor and 5-for-6 from the line to finish with 13 points.
"Jo was frustrated with himself, and we didn't get him the ball some of the time," Drew said, "but I know he gives us so much energy in transition, sprinting the court, offensive rebounding, some dunk downs. And we needed to get him going in the second half. He got the ball and responded well. He knew he had to help us."
Also picking up the slack for Maston was 6-9 freshman forward Tristan Clark, particularly on the defensive end. He finished with six points, nine rebounds and two blocks in 29 minutes.
"I really like how he played today, especially on the defensive end," Lecomte said of Clark. "He was really aggressive, talkative. I was really proud of him. It's tough for him with (Maston) out. He was in foul trouble early in the second half, picked up his fourth foul. It's tough. He's a freshman, but he still did a great job."
Up by four at the break, 33-29, Wichita State built its lead to 55-48 midway through the second half on a Willis layup. But, Baylor didn't go away, closing to within three on a Lecomte 3-pointer and then tying it up, 62-62, on a three-point play by Jake Lindsey with 3:10 left.
Frankamp's 3-pointer was a back breaker, though, with the Bears missing their last five shots of the game.
"We lost, but I think we're going to learn a lot from it, and we'll be ready come conference time," Lecomte said.
Baylor will have a quick turnaround, hosting Sam Houston State at 7 p.m. Monday and then playing Randall in a game next Saturday, Dec. 9, at Fort Hood.