Lecomte returns as No. 21 Baylor tops Texas Southern 99-68
WACO, Texas (AP) — Manu Lecomte’s wrap on his injured left thumb will come off eventually, assuming it heals.
Baylor coach Scott Drew chuckled while wondering whether that was a good thing.
“Maybe we need to wrap his hand all the time,” Drew said after Lecomte scored 22 points in his return after missing a game, helping the 21st-ranked Bears to a 99-68 victory over winless Texas Southern on Thursday night. “He was really good tonight.”
With the wrap on his non-shooting thumb, the Bears point guard was 7 of 11 from the field, made all five free throws and had a game-high six assists in the 46th consecutive home win over an unranked nonconference opponent for the Bears (8-2).
It was their third straight win since losing to No. 3 Wichita State on the Waco campus. Baylor improved to 11-0 against Texas Southern as the teams met for the fourth straight year.
Nuni Omot matched Lecomte with 22 points in the first game since scoring a career-high 30, and Jo Lual-Acuil had 18 points and two blocks with his Sudanese parents watching. In town for his graduation Saturday, his mom and dad hadn’t seen him in four years.
“I was nervous for the game, just because my mom has never seen me play,” said Lual-Acuil, who was born in Sudan before moving to Uganda and Australia as a child. “No words can really explain how I’m feeling, for when I did see them. It was definitely a special moment and a day I’ll always remember.”
Trae Jefferson scored 24 points for the Tigers (0-10), who are playing every November and December game away from home for the third straight year.
This year, the schedule for former Indiana coach Mike Davis’ Southwestern Athletic Conference team has included No. 12 Gonzaga and 13th-ranked Kansas along with Ohio State, Syracuse and Oregon.
“I think we lose money when we play home games,” Davis said. “I want our guys to get out and play on the road so we can get used to playing against real good competition. That’s the only way to get better. It’s worked for us the last three years.”
Lecomte, who missed a win over Randall when the Bears played at nearby Fort Hood for the third straight year, had a four-point play when he got fouled on a corner 3 to spark an 11-2 run for a 35-24 lead late in the first half.
The 5-foot-11 native of Belgium had another 3-pointer and five points in a 17-0 spurt for a 62-37 lead in the second half. Lecomte was 3 of 6 from long range.
Texas Southern: It doesn’t mean much for the Tigers to lose most or all of their nonconference games. They play a schedule that looks like something from Davis’ days with the Hoosiers, and they haven’t played at home in November or December since 2014. Texas Southern has still won at least 22 games twice in the previous three seasons and made the NCAA Tournament as SWAC tourney champion three of the past four years.
Baylor: The Bears’ dominance showed up best in the shooting percentages for both teams. Baylor matched a season high at 66 percent to 41 percent for Texas Southern. The Bears were 10 of 18 from long range (57 percent). Since losing to the Shockers, Baylor has beaten three overmatched opponents by an average of 27 points.
OUTSIDE TO INSIDE
Omot did most of his damage inside after setting career highs for 3-pointers and attempts (6 of 8) against Randall, going 10 of 12 from the field and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc. He didn’t shoot a free throw after two more career bests (12 of 17) in the Fort Hood game.
The Bears set the school record for shooting percentage for the second time this season — by two-hundredths of a percentage point (66.12 percent to 66.10 percent in a 107-66 win over Central Arkansas in the opener). They came up short on the other close call, missing by a point what would have been consecutive 100-point games for the first time since 1989. Baylor beat Randall 105-82.
Texas Southern: At Wyoming on Saturday before a return to Texas to face TCU on Monday.
Baylor: Two more home games before start of Big 12: Savannah State on Sunday and Southern on Wednesday.