WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor fans filled the arena with the obligatory chants over "Over-rated!" in the closing minutes as the ninth-ranked Bears were closing out a convincing victory over No. 7 Xavier. Maybe they should have been chanting "Under-rated!" for their own team.
WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor fans filled the arena with the obligatory chants over "Over-rated!" in the closing minutes as the ninth-ranked Bears were closing out a convincing victory over No. 7 Xavier.
Maybe they should have been chanting "Under-rated!" for their own team.
Manu Lecomte scored 24 points, Johnathan Motley had 17 points with eight rebounds and the Bears took over in the second half for a 76-61 victory Saturday. Less than a month into the season, they already have three wins over Top 10 teams for the first time.
"We just go out and play hard every day," Motley said, when asked if the Bears were still ranked too low. "Whatever rankings say, that's what they say. I guarantee you every day, every game, we're going to come out with the same intensity. Play together as a family. We're all in, and it results in W's."
Baylor (8-0) started the season unranked and not even getting any votes. They moved to No. 20 in the second poll of the regular season, after a win over then-No. 4 Oregon, and shot up to No. 9 with a first-place vote in the last poll after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis with wins over then-No. 24 Michigan State and then-No. 10 Louisville.
Now they have another impressive victory by beating Xavier (7-1), which led by as many as nine points before halftime. The Bears came from behind in the second half like they did in all three games last week in the Bahamas.
"Give Baylor a lot of credit. They're awfully good. It's nothing we didn't know coming in," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "They've been a second-half team seems like all year so far, and today was no different."
Xavier led 51-50 when Edmond Sumner, who had 19 points, hit a 3-pointer with 11:15 to play. The Musketeers then went almost 9 minutes before making another field goal.
Lecomte, the former Miami transfer, put Baylor ahead to stay with two free throws. By time he made a jumper with 3:36 left, it capped a 21-2 run to put the Bears up 71-53.
Trevon Bluiett, who led the Musketeers with 23 points and fouled out, made a 3-pointer with 2:33 for their first basket since their last lead.
Xavier: The Musketeers had won 21 consecutive non-conference games since a double-overtime loss at Auburn two years ago. They were 3-0 against Top 10 opponents last season, but the Big East's best team in field goal percentage couldn't hold down Baylor.
Baylor: The Bears, who now have 10 days between games because of final exams, have passed their big tests on the court so far. Lecomte has been a spark with returners Motley, Al Freeman and Ishmael Wainright in the starting lineup, along with 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil. Their next big game is the Dec. 30 Big 12 opener at Oklahoma.
A BAYLOR FIRST
It was Baylor's first victory in a matchup of Top 10 teams. The Bears were 0-6 in the previous such games, all of them in Big 12 play — including five during the 2011-12 season. ... Baylor has won 39 consecutive non-conference home games over the last four years.
HE SAID IT
"We went a bunch of times into the post. We lost the ball. We had three or four turnovers where the ball got knocked out of our hands. We had opportunities when we got fouled to go to the free throw line and convert, and we missed." — Mack.
With Xavier among three Top 10 losers Saturday, that makes room for Baylor to move up a few spots in the new AP Top 25 on Monday. The Musketeers could fall out of the Top 10, but probably not by much.
Xavier plays its next two games against Pac-12 teams, going to Colorado on Wednesday and then hosting Utah next Saturday. The game against Utah is the first of four consecutive home games, a stretch that will conclude with the Big East Conference opener against Providence on Dec. 28.
Baylor's next game is Dec. 14 vs Southern University, one of three SWAC teams that will play in a four-game stretch over eight days when they also host John Brown, an NAIA school from Arkansas.