After comeback wins over Providence in the first four and No. 6 seed SMU in the first round, it looked like No. 11 seed Southern Cal’s second-round matchup with No. 3 seed Baylor was going to follow the same script.
The Trojans erased another double-digit deficit and had all the momentum in the final minutes of regulation, but a third Hollywood ending would not take place on Sunday night in Tulsa, as Manu Lecomte caught fire, leading the Bears to an 82-78 win to advance to the Sweet 16.
It was when USC took a 67-65 lead that Lecomte finally got in the scoring column, and it couldn’t have come at a more critical time for Baylor. Several minutes earlier, Johnathan Motley found himself on the bench with his fourth personal foul. In the span of less than a minute, the 5-foot-11 redshirt junior guard converted on a four-point play, knocked down another set of free throws and connected on a lay-up; an individual 8-0 run that the Bears up 73-65 heading into the final official TV timeout.
In the first round, Lecomte was quiet offensively, scoring 10 points — off 3-of-9 shooting — against No. 14 seed New Mexico State. It marked only the sixth time all season the Belgium native failed to make a 3-point field goal.
He went on to score 12 points, all of them coming in the final five minutes. Motley, who fouled out 90 seconds left, finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Terry Matson had 19 off the bench. King McClure scored 14 of his 17 in the first half.
Chimezie Metu had a game-high 28 points. Bennie Boatwright ended with 16.
USC trailed Providence by 17 in the First Four and was behind by a dozen to SMU in the first round before pulling off two improbable comebacks.
Baylor advances to the Sweet 16 to play the winner of No. 2 seed Duke and No. 7 seed South Carolina.