OXFORD, Miss. (AP) Baylor’s Manu Lecomte caught the ball about five feet behind the 3-point line as the shot clock was winding down. For most guys, it wouldn’t have been an ideal situation.
For Lecomte, it was perfect.
“I was deep,” Lecomte said. “But I was open.”
The 5-foot-11 junior drilled the crucial shot for his fifth 3-pointer, and it proved to be the difference in No. 5 Baylor’s hard-fought 78-75 victory over Mississippi on Saturday night in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
Lecomte led the Bears with 17 points, and Johnathan Motley and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. had 16 apiece.
Baylor (20-1) rallied from a 15-point deficit in the first half to win its fifth straight game. The Bears trailed 50-40 early in the second half, but pushed ahead to take their first lead at 56-54 with 10:25 left after Motley made a pair of free throws.
It was a close game from that point forward. Lecomte hit his decisive 3-pointer with 23 seconds left, making it 78-72 and sending many of the Ole Miss fans to the exits.
Lecomte shot 6 of 9 from the field, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
“We had some good looks and Manu is a good shooter and somebody who is capable of going 5 for 6,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Whenever he shoots we think it’s going in. We’re blessed he made them today.”
Ole Miss (12-9) dominated early on and jumped out to a 33-18 lead with 6:33 remaining in the first half. The Rebels used a 1-3-1 zone defense that bothered Baylor for a big chunk of the game.
But the Bears played much better in the second half, shooting 14 of 26 (53.8 percent) from the field.
“It was really the first time we’ve played against a zone like that, so it was kind of weird at first,” Lecomte said. “But we figured it out.”
Ole Miss was led by Sebastian Saiz and freshman Breein Tyree, who both scored 20 points. It was a career high for Tyree, who had 18 points in the second half.
But a few crucial Ole Miss turnovers in the final minutes – along with Lecomte’s big shot – helped Baylor escape with the victory. The Bears were also dominant on the glass with a 37-27 rebounding edge.
“This is the second game in a row at home that we get destroyed on the glass,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
Baylor: The Bears struggled, especially when Motley was in foul trouble during the first half, but surged ahead late to escape Oxford with the win. Now they’ve got another tough road game at Kansas on Wednesday.
Ole Miss: It’s a missed opportunity for the Rebels, who put a scare into Baylor but still leave with the loss. Ole Miss has now lost six of their last nine games.
BROOKS IS BACK
Ole Miss guard Rasheed Brooks scored two points in 14 minutes in his first game back after a seizure on Jan. 17.
The 6-foot-5 senior was taken off the floor on a stretcher after the scary situation during a timeout, but less than two weeks later was back on the floor.
Kennedy said there was “never a specific cause” of the seizure, but that “all of the tests came back clear, which is a great thing, obviously.” He said doctors have changed some of Brooks’ medications and want to make sure he stays hydrated.
Baylor travels to face No. 2 Kansas on Wednesday.
Ole Miss stays at home, where it will face Mississippi State on Tuesday.
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