The Bears held the lead from wire to wire, but that did not prevent Kansas State from making the mismatch competitive at key moments.
“Our guys did a great job coming out of the gates and starting out fast,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “Credit to Coach Weber and K-State for coming back. They have been playing really good basketball and we expected it to be one of those hard fought contests.”
Baylor built their lead out to 16 quickly. K-State responded by holding the Bears scoreless for over four minutes while going on an 11-0 run, led by senior forward Makol Mawien.
“I thought we had five or six minutes where we guarded the heck out of them,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “We took care of the ball. It helps to make a few shots.”
Mawien scored eight of his 10 points in that stretch and also recorded a steal. He finished the game with a team-leading eight rebounds.
K-State had the momentum as the two teams barreled towards halftime. The Wildcats seemed like they could make it competitive in the second half, but then they got cold again shooting and could not handle the rebounds.
“We cut it to 22-17, but then a couple loose balls and long rebounds,” Weber said. “One turnover lead to another.”
Still, K-State did manage to get within a possession twice when a three-pointer by senior forward Xavier Sneed cut the lead to just 29-26 and a Sneed dunk made it 31-28.
“At the end of the half, [Sneed] makes the great dunk,” Weber said. “But we’re celebrating instead of getting back to finish the half.”
Baylor would get a basket of their own to finish out the half with a five-point lead. The first five minutes of the second half were punctuated by just a Baylor three-pointer while both teams struggled to settle back in.
“Kind of a stalemate to start the second half,” Weber said. “We just didn’t score and they scored only a little. … We have good stretches, 9-0, 8-0, but then they come back at us 7-0.”
Baylor appeared to seize control, stretching their lead back out to 16 before K-State made one final push.
This time, it did not take the form of a frantic run, but instead, K-State methodically got themselves back into the game.
The Wildcats got to within seven points multiple times in the final few minutes and tried to foul their way back into the game. It took a three-pointer from junior guard Cartier Diarra with nine seconds to play for K-State to get within striking distance and at that point, it was too late.
K-State’s next match-up will be a trip to Ames, Iowa, to play the Cyclones in Hilton Coliseum at 7 p.m. Saturday. That game will be on ESPN2.