COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)—Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie told Dominique Kirk if he hesitated on an open shot one more time, he wouldn’t play anymore.
Looks like he’ll remain in the starting lineup.
After his chat with the coach, Kirk scored 12 points in a 2 1/2 minute span to break open a close game and No. 8 A&M went on to a 97-87 win over the Bears on Saturday. Before the second-half spurt, that included two 3-pointers, A&M (24-4, 12-2 Big 12) led by just two points.
“I told him prior to that time that if he thought about his shot again instead of catching the ball and shooting it that he wasn’t going to play again,” Gillispie said. “And he made two big 3s. He’s a big shot maker. But he was thinking a little bit too much early and you can’t think about making a shot.”
Acie Law scored a season-high 31 points and Joseph Jones added 22 to help A&M’s effort. Kirk finished with 17 points.
The win is A&M’s sixth straight over the Bears and is Baylor’s 24th straight Big 12 conference road loss.
Instead of relying on their normally stingy defense, the Aggies got into a shootout with the struggling, but scrappy Bears. The Aggies, who entered the game allowing just 56.5 points, gave up their most points of the season to Baylor.
The Kirk-led lead was their second 10-point lead of the game after they stretched their advantage to 10 on a 3 by Josh Carter early in the second half. Baylor (13-14, 3-11) then went on a 10-2 run, punctuated by a three-point play by Kevin Rogers, that cut the lead to 44-42 with just more than 16 minutes remaining.
The victory marks the first time the Aggies have won 12 conference games in the history of the Big 12.
Kirk’s quick output was made possible by the Aggies taking advantage of a double team on Jones.
“That’s what makes A&M good this year,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Not only do they have the (stars), but they also have improved their play around the total team. What good players do is they make you pay and Dominique did.”
Law said the emergence of role players such as Kirk should help the Aggies as they prepare for the NCAA tournament.
“That’s going to be huge for us as teams focus on Joe and AK (Antanas Kavaliauskas) and myself and try take Josh from the 3-point line,” he said. “When Dominique is shooting like he can, it really leaves them with no options as far as the double team.”
The Bears would get close one more time when they went on an 8-0 run fueled by six points from Henry Dugat to make it 69-65 with about eight minutes left. But they wouldn’t get any closer and a 3 by Law with just under six minutes left put A&M ahead 77-68.
Law’s performance is just the third 30-point game of his career and the first since scoring a career-high 35 last January against Oklahoma State.
Baylor’s Curtis Jerrells was encouraged by the fight his team showed on Saturday and that his team hasn’t given up, despite it’s struggles.
“When things are going downhill like that when we didn’t expect it to, it’s just a positive when your team can stay together,” he said. “We’re down to the end of the season and we’ve won only three conference games and our whole team is out there playing like that against one of the top-10 teams in the country.”
Law agreed and was impressed by Baylor’s play.
“Credit to them for never quitting,” Law said. “A regular team would just give up when you’re down on the road in a hostile environment and they continued to fight and were able to get back in the ball game.”
A highlight for Baylor came on Jerrells’ alley-oop pass to Rogers for a two-handed dunk late in the second half. Kavaliauskas was called for a foul on the play, despite ducking to avoid being kicked by the dangling legs of the soaring Rogers.
Jerrells led Baylor with 27 points and Dugat added 22 points.
Texas A&M took advantage of 31 Baylor fouls and made 35-of-44 free throws. But Baylor shot 48 percent to stay in it against a team that entered the game allowing a nation’s-best 36 percent shooting.
Baylor hasn’t won a conference road game since beating the Aggies 67-61 in February 2004.
The Aggies jumped out to a 5-0 lead, never trailed and were ahead 37-31 at halftime.