WACO, Texas (AP) — With yet another 20-win season under Scott Drew secured, Baylor forward Rico Gathers is thinking more about the two times the Bears have been a win away from the Final Four under their coach.
“I’m glad that we won 20 games, but we’re on a mission to win the rest of our games for the rest of the regular season and stuff,” Gathers said after his Big 12-leading 14th double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in a 69-42 win over Kansas State on Saturday.
“We stay hungry all the time. We know we’ve got tests coming up. We’re locked and ready to go.”
Taurean Price had 14 points, five assists and five steals to lead the Bears (20-7, 8-6 Big 12), who have seven of the school’s 10 seasons with at least 20 wins since Drew arrived in 2003. They’ve all been in the past eight years.
“It’s hard to sustain because you just have so much influx in our sport and our sport alone,” Drew said. “So to be consistent, again, Baylor nation, players we’ve had, the fact that they’ve stayed with the program, haven’t transferred, is why we’ve been successful.”
Thomas Gipson scored 11 points to lead the Wildcats (13-15, 6-9), who set a season low for points and dropped two games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2003 season.
Kansas State, which was swept on a two-game trip to Texas that started with a loss to lowly TCU, got within 39-31 with six quick points after falling behind by 14 at halftime and made it 39-33 on a steal and dunk by Marcus Foster with 14 minutes to go.
But the Wildcats had just three field goals the rest of the way, shot 39 percent and were 1 of 16 from 3-point range while the Bears made eight of 16 from beyond the arc. Baylor built its 39-25 halftime lead thanks to 7-of-14 shooting from long range.
“You’ve got to make some 3s,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “When we’ve played against them, we’ve made 3s.”
Lester Medford scored 12 and Al Freeman had 11 on 5-of-6 shooting for the Bears, who won for the 18th time in 20 home games despite going almost 8 minutes without a field goal to start the second half before Gathers hit a layup on a feed from Kenny Chery.
With consecutive wins since a two-game skid that interrupted a hot streak, Baylor is looking solid for a fifth trip to the NCAA tournament under Drew, who has taken the Bears to the regional finals twice.
“It’s the Big 12,” Drew said. “You don’t get too high or low after any game. I think we all realize that.”
Gathers was honored before the game for his Big 12-record 28 rebounds against Huston-Tillotson on Jan 21. The burly 6-foot-8 forward broke Baylor’s oldest individual game record, held by Jerry Mallett with 27 against North Texas on Feb. 1, 1955. Mallett presented Gathers with a commemorative ball.
The Wildcats, who are 2-8 since beating Baylor at home on Jan. 17, had a rough February in Texas. The month started with a 64-47 loss at Texas Tech, the only team below TCU in the Big 12 standings. And now they go home to play No. 8 Kansas on Monday night for their third game in six days. “Maybe it’s a chance to regroup and get some things going in the right direction,” Weber said.
Kansas State: The previous scoring low came in a 50-46 loss to Georgia on Dec. 31. … The Wildcats had nine of their 15 turnovers in the second half, including four when the deficit was still less than 10 in the second half.
Baylor: Royce O’Neale was Baylor’s other double-figure scorer with 10 points. … Besides sharing the scoring load like they usually do, the Bears had five players with at least four assists each. The total of 24 was four off their season high.
Kansas State: Home against No. 8 Kansas on Monday.
Baylor: At No. 14 Iowa State on Wednesday.