OKLAHOMA CITY—Josh Lomers' stat line is about as impressive as Baylor’s 5-11 conference record this season.
8.5 minutes, 2.8 points, 1.4 rebounds per game.
Yet the big man made the biggest difference in Baylor’s 65-49 win over Nebraska.
Lomers provided 11 points and five rebounds on a bum ankle, as the Bears beat the Cornhuskers with their height advantage.
“We knew we needed to get inside,” Lomers said. “We’re bigger than them all around, and we needed to exploit that.”
Nebraska tried doubling down on the seven-foot Lomers by putting a pair of guards on him no taller than 6'5".
It didn’t work.
Neither did the Cornhuskers' rebounding effort. Baylor forward Kevin Rogers singlehandedly out-rebounded Nebraska 20-18; all but two were on the defensive glass.
“Who are we going to match up with (Lomers) and (Rogers) together?” said Nebraska coach Doc Sadler. “We’re just not going to.”
“(Lomers) is like the immovable force,” Rogers said. “Once he is in that vein, it is almost impossible to get him out of there.
“Once (Lomers) catches it, four feet in, you know, it is almost a guaranteed bucket.”
Rogers certainly stepped up from his usual seven rebounds per game, but where in the world did Lomers come from?
Coming into the Big 12 Tournament, Lomers played in 195 of the Bears' 1,205 minutes, not to mention a sprained ankle that almost kept him out of Wednesday’s game.
After a dunk that put Baylor up by 13 points late in the second half, Lomers glided down the floor as elegantly as a seven-footer with a sprained ankle could.
“(Lomers) did a tremendous job playing hurt, playing with a lot of heart,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “He did a great job in the zone, contesting shots, making his presence known in there.”
Lomers may not be an all-conference player on the court, but he is in the classroom. He was recently named to his second straight first team All-Academic Big 12. In case you’re wondering, his GPA is higher than his points per game (3.3 to 2.8).
As Lomers left the Baylor locker room following the game, he hobbled down the hallway of the Ford Center—sprained ankle and all—enduring the painful pleasure of a win in the Big 12 Tournament.
“It hurts—without a doubt—my ankle is killing me,” Lomers said. “The rest of my body is OK. We’ll stretch it out and get some treatment.”
Lomers will have to do it all over again. He has an 11:30 a.m. game against top-seeded Kansas tomorrow.