By Chad Conine, The Sports Xchange
WACO, Texas — A week after dropping its first home game of the season, sixth-ranked Baylor came out with a determined demeanor and put away upstart TCU from the outset.
The Bears enforced their will and hammered the Horned Frogs 70-52 on Saturday at the Ferrell Center.
TCU had won three straight in Big 12 play entering the game, but Baylor (22-3, 9-3 in the Big 12) established a double-digit lead in the first half and never looked back.
Bears guard King McClure said he and his teammates were locked in long before they asserted control in the first half, thanks to a routine change by Baylor coach Scott Drew.
“Coach Drew really emphasized getting off to a good starts,” McClure said. “Last time against Kansas State (a 56-54 loss at home), we came out flat.
“This morning we came in at 9 o’clock, we dressed out and went through a full shoot-around. And as a result we were able to bring energy and get off to a good start.”
Baylor forward Johnathan Motley scored 25 points and had seven rebounds, guard Manu Lecomte finished with 17 points and McClure added 13 points, all in the first half.
Guard Jaylen Fisher led TCU with 18 points and guard Kenrich Williams added 10. But the Horned Frogs shot only 38 percent from the field and never pushed the Bears in the second half.
“We definitely were expecting better,” Williams said. “We really got outworked tonight. Defensively, on the boards, it’s just surprising, a little bit of an embarrassment. We’re going to keep working.”
Motley completed a three-point play to give Baylor a 21-point lead, its largest of the game to that point, with 8:43 left in the second half.
That play came during Motley’s stretch of nine straight points to help seal the win.
“I was just making sure I was aggressive, basically just kind of taking my teammates passes and making sure I finished them,” Motley said. “I did a good job of finishing today.”
Baylor was leading by 14 when forward Jo Lual-Acuil came up with a steal and was fouled by Williams, who slammed down a loose ball and earned a technical foul.
Lecomte went to the free throw line and hit two shots to boost the lead to 16 and establish firm command.
The Horned Frogs (17-8, 6-6) never got back to within 13 points after that.
Baylor’s defense clamped down on TCU in the first half, holding the Horned Frogs to 23 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes. TCU committed only two turnovers, but the Bears blocked five shots to keep the Horned Frogs out of their offensive rhythm.
Horned Frogs coach Jamie Dixon said his team didn’t move the ball well enough in the first half.
“We got one assist in the first half,” Dixon said. “I’ve never been around a team with one assist in the first half. We addressed that in the second half and had nine, so we moved the ball better.”
TCU went more than four minutes without scoring early in the first half, allowing Baylor to take an 11-point lead.
McClure hit a pair of 3-pointers to fuel Baylor’s 8-0 run during the Horned Frogs’ drought. A follow-up by forward Ishmail Wainright put the Bears ahead 17-6 with 9:47 left before the break.
McClure paced Baylor on the offensive end with 13 points in the first half, as he hit 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range among 5 of 6 overall from the field.
“King’s been tremendous,” Drew said. “He’s healthy. He’s been injured during the course of this year. That’s affected some of his play, but we have confidence in him.
“Why we’ve been successful is because we’ve had different guys step up and we have a lot of heart.”
Baylor shot 50 percent from he field in the first 20 minutes, but the Bears were even better on the defensive end.
After grabbing the lead with effective defense earlier in the half, Baylor got stingy again and held the Horned Frogs to two points in the last five minutes of the half and took a 32-17 edge to the break.