WACO — With the Baylor offense struggling in the first 20 minutes of its home matchup with Kansas State, junior guard Kenny Chery knew there was no time for complacency.
Instead it was a time to take it to the hole and gut out a very elusive home win. Chery’s triple-double paved the way for the Bears in an 87-73 double-overtime win over the Wildcats on Saturday at the Ferrell Center.
“We weren’t hitting anything in the beginning of the game, but in the second half, things started going well,” Chery said. “The coaching staff told us to keep shooting the ball and we never put our heads down.”
Chery finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. His assists and rebound totals are a career best.
The win snaps a four-game home losing streak for the Bears (16-9, 4-8 Big 12) who had not tasted victory on their home court since beating TCU 88-62 on
Former Killeen High star Cory Jefferson finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out in the first overtime while Isaiah Austin scored 18 points and led the Baylor defense with nine blocks and 10 rebounds.
Former Harker Heights standout Royce O’Neale finished with six points and eight rebounds to go along with two assists.
Nino Williams was the high scorer for Kansas State (17-8, 7-5) with 10 points while Marcus Foster had 19 points to go along with 10 assists.
The contest was a story of two halves as Baylor went into the break facing a 30-21 deficit after shooting just 26 percent (8 of 30) in the first half.
“We just came out too casual,” Wildcats head coach Bruce Weber said about the second half. “We made some turnovers, they got some easy baskets. They made up seven or eight points in two minutes.”
The Bears came alive in the second half and were better able to exploit the KSU interior defense.
Baylor trailed by 10 points with 8:54 left in regulation before an Austin jumper sparked a 13-6 Bear run.
With the Bears trailing 57-54 with 23 seconds remaining, Brady Heslip hit his only 3-pointer of the game, but it proved to be the biggest.
After a missed layup by Chery, a missed 3-pointer by Gary Franklin and a missed putback attempt by Jefferson, Austin hauled in the rebound, appeared to try to take it to the rim and hesitated before finding Heslip.
“I saw Brady sitting there wide open so I passed it out,” Austin said. “I knew we needed three points.”
The senior guard gathered Austin’s pass and swished a shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime tied at 57.
Jefferson fouled out with less than a minute left and the Bears had to gut out the win without the services of their leading scorer. As it turned out, Baylor didn’t need him.
After forcing a shot clock violation on Kansas State’s first possession of the second overtime, Taurean Prince gave Baylor a 71-68 lead with his first and only 3-pointer of the night.
“He gave us great minutes,” Chery said about Prince. “He came in, played hard, stuck to principles and you can’t ask for much (more) if the guy’s playing hard, and that’s what Taurean did today.”
After that, Baylor’s transition game took over as Heslip came up with a steal and layup while O’Neale added a free throw to extend Baylor’s lead to 75-68 with 2:52 left.
With Baylor ahead 77-71, Prince shut the door on the Wildcats on both ends of the floor. Prince scored eight of his 12 points in the second overtime.
After finishing a drive with a basket, the sophomore forward came up with a steal, dunk and finished the 3-point play. Those two buckets came in the span of 10 second to help Baylor build an 82-71 lead with 1:15 remaining.
Austin put an exclamation point on the win with a dunk that extended Baylor’s lead to 85-72 and put the game away with 49 seconds remaining.
“Everybody contributed, it was a great win, now we’ve just got to build from here,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said.
The Bears look for a second straight home win when they host the Marcus Smart-less Oklahoma State Cowboys (16-10, 4-8) on Monday at 8 p.m.
Contact Albert Alvarado at email@example.com