Frustrating finish for Cyclones
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Basketball Writer
WACO, Texas — Manu Lecomte was struggling with his shot most of the game. Yet, the ball was in the point guard’s hands with the game on the line and No. 2 Baylor trying to stay undefeated.
Lecomte made a high-arcing shot on a short jumper over a defender with 8 seconds left and the Bears pulled out a 65-63 victory over Iowa State in their Big 12 home opener Wednesday night.
“Point guards got to have floaters. Especially 5-10 point guards like me,” said Lecomte, the Miami transfer who was 2-for-9 shooting before making the game-deciding shot. “I had a good feel for it.”
After a timeout, the Bears (14-0, 2-0) were set up for Lecomte to make a move around the left side, and he took a shot over 6-foot-5 Matt Thomas.
Iowa State (9-4, 1-1) had one more chance after officials stopped to adjust the clock, but Monte Morris’ baseline jumper was no good as time expired.
Baylor was playing with its highest ranking ever, and fans chanted “No. 1!, No. 1!” when the game ended. The victory by the Bears came on the same night that No. 1 Villanova had its 20-game winning streak snapped in a loss at Butler.
“We’re not worried about the rankings. We just have to handle business every day,” Johnathan Motley said. “This is the Big 12. … This was a one-possession game and we knew the things we had to do and how hard we had to play to get the win.”
Jo Lual-Acuil had 15 points for the Bears, and Motley had 13 points and 12 rebounds for his 11th double-double in 13 games played this season. Jake Lindsey scored 10 points.
Nazareth Mitrou-Long had 17 points to lead Iowa State and Morris had 12, including his jumper with 5:33 left that put the Cyclones up 61-55.
“It’s just staying aggressive when we’ve got the lead. We got away from that, and I definitely believe that’s the guards’ fault,” Mitrou-Long said. “We weren’t getting in the gap, we were being stagnant up top, every one of us.”
Iowa State: While the Cyclones had a great effort on the road, they just didn’t close out the game. Burton’s jumper with 2:22 left provided their last points, and missed their last three shots after that.
Baylor: The only time the Bears started a season better was when they were 17-0 in 2011-12. They have a 10-game home winning streak and possibly a chance to move No. 1 if they keep winning.
ADJUSTING THE CLOCK
After Lecomte’s go-ahead basket, officials stopped play and adjusted the clock from 8.2 to 8.6 seconds before Iowa State got its final possession. Coach Steve Prohm wasn’t happy stoppage. “I don’t even want to get into that,” he said, starting to call it ridiculous before stopping in mid-word. “We’re flowing. We’ve already gone over what we’re doing.” Official Joe DeRosa explained the sequence to a pool reporter. “If they take a shot and it’s one-tenth late, they can come back and say the clock was wrong after it cleared the net, and we didn’t do our job,” DeRosa said. “So by rule, we have to make sure of what the time was.”
CLOSE TO UNDEFEATEDS
Iowa State has now lost by two points to No. 2 Baylor and No. 5 Gonzaga, the only remaining undefeated teams. And they had a one-point overtime loss to No. 22 Cincinnati. “We’re going to break through, I know that,” Prohm said.
SITTING AT START
Al Freeman had started all 47 Baylor games since the start of last season before coming off the bench. He didn’t start for a disciplinary reason, but school officials didn’t elaborate. Sophomore guard King McClure got his first career start. Freeman was 0-of-5 shooting, but made four free throws in 22 minutes.
Iowa State returns home for the only time during a four-game stretch when the Cyclones hosts Texas on Saturday night.
Baylor stays home to play Oklahoma State on Saturday, then plays three of its next four games after that on the road.