FORT WORTH, Texas (AP)TCU fans serenaded Adam Flagler with chants of ”air ball!, air ball!” every time he touched the basketball after an early miss. Baylor’s veteran guard put an end to that after halftime.
Flagler finished with a season-high 28 points, including 16 in a row for the 14th-ranked Bears during the stretch when they overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half to beat No. 17 TCU 72-68 on Saturday.
”We felt at the end of the day it was time to buckle down and as a team we wanted to be connected,” Flagler said. ”A lot wasn’t going our way.”
Even without leading scorer Mike Miles Jr. for the fourth game in a row, and also without injured big man Eddie Lampkin Jr., TCU had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final seconds.
Flagler had a turnover with 8.1 seconds left, when smothered by Damion Baugh and Shahada Wells in front of the Horned Frogs bench. Officials initially gave the ball to Baylor, but reversed that call after an extended replay review and discussion.
Baugh, who finished with 16 points and 10 assists, then missed a jumper with three seconds left. Flagler hit two free throws after being fouled while rebounding the missed shot.
LJ Cryer had 23 points for the Bears (19-6, 8-4 Big 12), who on Jan. 4 at home against TCU blew a 17-point lead in an 88-87 loss. They have won nine of their last 10 games.
”That’s Big 12 basketball,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. ”We all know the importance of good guard play and LJ and Adam really came through.”
Jakobe Coles had 15 points and Emanuel Miller 10 for the Frogs (17-8, 6-6) Frogs, who have lost four of five.
”We should have gotten it done tonight without two starters, but we didn’t,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said.
Flagler’s three free throws with 2:42 left, after being fouled trying another 3-pointer, put Baylor ahead to stay at 64-62. He then had a layup that ended his personal scoring streak.
Cryer made two free throws with 19 seconds left after being fouled under the TCU basket when Chuck O’Bannon reached around him.
The Bears used a 9-0 run to get within 56-55 with 5:14 left, on a Flagler 3-pointer. TCU pushed the ball quickly up court for a layup by Coles before back-to-back 3s by Flagler.
TCU regained the lead at 62-61 on a slam by Coles with 2:58 left, before Flagler’s three free throws.
ON THE BOARDS, IN THE PAINT
TCU dominated with a 50-26 scoring average in the paint, and finished with a 32-26 rebounding edge that was bigger until the final minutes.
”Rebounding, that was our goal, that was our emphasis,” Dixon said. ”The other emphasis was guarding the three, which we didn’t get done early and then obviously late.”
Baylor: Another tough road win for the Bears, who are 26-9 against Top 25 teams the past four seasons – 16 of those wins coming on the road. They are 25-7 in Big 12 road games over the same span.
”I feel like Coach Drew coaches for moments like this, to go on the road when everybody’s against but we know who we’re playing for at the end of the day,” Flagler said. ”It just prepares us for the long haul, what we want to do when March Madness comes.”
TCU: Miles, who averages 18.1 points a game, could be close to returning for the first time since a hyperextension of his right knee in the opening minutes at Mississippi State two weeks ago. Lampkin has missed four of the last six games while dealing with a left high ankle sprain.
Baylor could move up a spot or two and closer to being back in the top 10. The Frogs will certainly slide down in the new AP poll Monday, and could fall all of the way out of the Top 25 after a school-record streak of 10 consecutive polls ranked.
Baylor goes for a regular-season sweep of West Virginia at home Monday night.
TCU plays Wednesday night at No. 11 Iowa State, which won 69-67 in Fort Worth on Jan. 7.
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