Lecomte, Freeman help Baylor hold off FGCU, 81-72

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WACO, Texas (AP) — Manu Lecomte had 19 points and Al Freeman scored 18 as Baylor survived a late run by Florida Gulf Coast for an 81-72 win on Friday night.

Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. had 12 points and five blocks - including two key swats late in the game - for Baylor (3-0). Johnathan Motley scored 12 and Terry Maston had 10 points.

Brandon Goodwin scored 22 for FGCU (1-2). Zach Johnson had 17 points, Christian Terrell came off the bench to score 16 and Antravious Simmons had 10 points.

Baylor hit the first shot of the second half to take a 12-point lead but the Eagles used a 9-2 run to cut the advantage to 46-41 with 17:44 to play. FGCU eventually tied the game at 53 when Simmons hit a short turnaround jumper on the baseline with 11:41 remaining. The Eagles took their first lead - 58-55 - on a 3 by Johnson at the 10:13 mark.

In Baylor's 66-49 win over No. 4 Oregon on Thursday, the Bears led 33-23 at the half, and the Ducks whittled that down to 1.

"That's twice in a row we've come out with 10-point leads and had those evaporate," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "We were sluggish against Oregon coming out in the zone, so we came out (tonight) in man. They made their first seven. That didn't really work, either. So I don't know what defense we'll come out in the second half next time."

Florida Gulf Coast went scoreless for more than 4 ½ minutes midway through the second half, and Baylor took advantage with a 9-0 run that put the Bears up 64-58 with 6:24 remaining. The Eagles pulled to within a point three times, but another 9-0 run from Baylor left the Bears up 77-67 with 37 seconds left.

Baylor shot 65 percent (13-of-20) from the field in the first half, and was 12-of-28 (42 percent) in the second.

"I think we regrouped a little bit in the second half," FGCU coach Joe Dooley said. "We got our defense a little bit more situated and got into a better offensive flow."

Baylor made 27 of its 31 free throw attempts, and the Eagles were 10-of-11 from the line and 10-of-19 on 3-point attempts.

"We talked to our guys about taking what they give us," Dooley said. Baylor "pushed and sort of crowded the inside a little bit. I thought the guys did a good job of penetrating and passing."


With Florida Gulf Coast's leading returning scorer and rebounder Marc-Eddy Norelia out with a broken hand, junior guard Brandon Goodwin has taken over the scoring, averaging 20 points in the Eagles' first three games.

Baylor should get a look from some voters in next week's poll. The Bears notched a 66-49 home win over No. 4 Oregon on Tuesday. Baylor didn't receive any preseason poll votes this year for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

TURNING POINT: After Florida Gulf Coast's Goodwin hit a 3 to tie the game at 24 with 7:09 left in the first half, Baylor went on a 12-2 run that left the Bears up 36-26 with 3:51 remaining. Lual-Acuil had a block and a dunk during the stretch.

TIP-INS: Baylor won the NIT in 2013, the same year Florida Gulf Coat advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 at what was then Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, 101 miles from the Bears' home arena.

HIGHLIGHT REEL: In the final 3 ½ minutes, Lual-Acuil, the 7-footer from Melbourne, had two blocks, a put-back, a dunk and two offensive rebounds.


Florida Gulf Coast faces what could be its toughest opponent of the season when it plays at No. 13 Michigan State on Sunday in the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland. However, the Spartans will likely drop in the next poll, as they're winless this season after losing to Arizona in Hawaii and to Kentucky in Madison Square Garden.

Baylor will continue in the Battle 4 Atlantis and face VCU on Wednesday at Paradise Island, Bahamas.

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