MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Manu Lecomte scored 26 points after battling early foul trouble, Ish Wainright and Al Freeman had key baskets down the stretch and top-ranked Baylor outlasted No. 25 Kansas State 77-68 on Saturday.
Wainright and Freeman had 15 points apiece for the Bears (15-1, 3-1 Big 12), who bounced back from a lopsided loss at No. 10 West Virginia in their first game as the nation’s No. 1 team to deal the Wildcats (13-4, 2-3) another close, disheartening conference defeat.
Johnathan Motley was held to seven points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 4:34 left and the Bears leading 62-55. But they managed to hang on down the stretch without their most dependable player.
D.J. Johnson scored 20 points for Kansas State, including two free throws that got the Wildcats within five with just over four minutes to go. But the Wildcats were unable to make key stops the rest of the way, and the trio of Wainwright, Freeman and Lecomte seemed to will the Bears to victory.
Freeman scored with just over three minutes left to make it 66-58, and Wainwright threw down a putback with about two minutes remaining that gave the Bears a 68-60 advantage.
Kamau Stokes made a pair of foul shots moments later to give Kansas State a chance, but Lecomte’s floater made it 70-62 with 1:35 left, and the Bears held on from there.
Barry Brown finished with 13 points, Xavier Sneed added 12 and Stokes had 10 for the Wildcats, while Dean Wade was held to five points and two rebounds in 35 minutes.
Baylor answered a lot of critics after its ugly showing in Morgantown by beating the Wildcats on the road. The Bears have won six of their last seven against Kansas State.
Kansas State has lost three of its last four games, including a last-second loss at No. 2 Kansas and a loss at Texas Tech where the Wildcats also led late. Those defeats coupled with a weak nonconference schedule could haunt the Wildcats when the NCAA Tournament field is set.
Baylor heads home to face Texas on Tuesday night.
Kansas State heads to Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.