Baylor blew a 17 point first half lead and a 15 point second half lead, but Kenny Chery found a way to bail them out.
After Bryce Dejean-Jones hit a three with 10 seconds left for No. 11 Iowa State, Chery went straight to the other end of the floor, hitting a pull-up 15-footer from the elbow. Georges Niang had a decent look at a 17-foot runner at the buzzer, but he missed a wide-open Dejean-Jones on the wing as his shot bounced harmlessly off the win, giving No. 22 Baylor a massive, 74-73 win.
The Big 12 is going to be the most competitive conference race in the country this season, and if Chery’s jumper had been off, the Bears would have fallen to 1-3 in the conference, with their lone win being an ugly, overtime victory over TCU. With a close home loss to Kansas already, missing another opportunity to land a win over one of the league’s elite would have been a damaging blow to their title chances.
You also have to think this win is a confidence boost. Baylor struggled against Oklahoma and TCU, lost a nail-biter to Kansas and blew two huge leads to Iowa State at home. The hole that they would have dug wouldn’t have been insurmountable, but it certainly would have put their backs against the wall. And in a league where they will play nine more games against ranked teams — they’ve already played three — you cannot afford too many slipups.
As it is, Baylor is now 13-3 on the season and has their first truly quality win to post to their NCAA tournament resume.
Royce O’Neale had 15 points for the Bears while Rico Gathers added 14 points and 14 boards.
The Cyclones are now 2-1 in the Big 12, a game back of Kansas and a half-game behind West Virginia and Kansas State.