WACO, Texas (AP) — Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua had waited 357 days to get back on the court for 11th-ranked Baylor. The big man had counted every single one of them since a gruesome knee injury last season.
Tchamwa Tchatchoua scored eight points and had four rebounds while playing 14 minutes in his first game since tearing multiple ligaments in his left knee last Feb. 12, and the Bears beat Texas Tech 89-62 on Saturday.
“It was just surreal. I remember praying in my bedroom last night, just crying about all the trials that I’ve been going through and realizing the day is actually here. I’m actually playing,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “I feel like it was a miracle for me to even be out here.”
The 6-foot-8 senior known as “Everyday Jon” for his constant high-energy approach in games and practices, got a raucous standing ovation when he went to the scorer’s table to check in with 13:05 left in the first half. It was so loud that he didn’t even actually hear his name announced.
“A special day. I want to thank God for just allowing Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua to heal. It’s a miracle,” Bears coach Scott Drew said. “When the injury happened and hearing the prognosis as things came in, as a coach and someone that loves Jon and works with him, you didn’t know if he would ever walk, run, let alone play basketball.”
Jalen Bridges scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, and also finished with eight rebounds for the Bears (17-6, 6-4 Big 12). He had two three-point plays and another layup in a 14-2 run soon after halftime that extended Baylor’s lead to 14 points. He added a 3-pointer soon after that.
Freshman Keyonte George scored 17 points. Adam Flagler had 13 points and eight assists.
Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said Tchamwa Tchatchoua play somewhat affected what his team had planned, but also touted Baylor’s standout guards.
“They’re just outstanding. This team, Baylor’s squad is one of the best offensive teams in the country and they’re so explosive,” Adams said. “We were trying to keep them in check, and … (had) somewhat the first half and then the dam broke.”
De’Vion Harmon had 20 points and Jaylon Tyson had 19 for Texas Tech (12-11, 1-9).
Exactly 51 weeks after getting hurt with a non-contact injury during a home game against Texas, Tchamwa Tchatchoua returned by making 3-of-4 shots. That included two 3-pointers by the Cameroon-born player, who was cleared by doctors this week.
After two rebounds in his first three minutes of action, he returned later in the first half and hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
His other 3-pointer came during an 11-0 run by Baylor in the second half that Bridges capped with a 3-pointer for a 70-45 lead.
“Ever since this summer, he’s the hardest worker,” said Bridges, the transfer from West Virginia. “Every time I come in the gym, I see Jon. He’s a huge part of our team. Even when he wasn’t playing, he was leading.”
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders didn’t have another big comeback in them, five days after matching the biggest comeback victory in Division I this season when they rallied from 23 down to beat No. 13 Iowa State in overtime at home for their first Big 12 victory. .
Baylor: The Bears are 79-22 against instate teams since the start of the 2011-12 season. … After four consecutive games shooting 37.1% or worst from the field, their worst stretch of the season, Baylor shot 53.8% (35 of 65). That included 10 3-pointers.
Baylor was already on the verge of returning to the top 10 in only three polls since a one-week absence that ended its streak of 65 consecutive poll appearances since the start of the 2019-20 season. The Bears lost 76-71 at No. 10 Texas earlier in the week, so they’re not likely to move up — but also may not move down much, if at all.
Texas Tech plays at Oklahoma State next Wednesday night.
Baylor hosts Oklahoma on Wednesday night. The Bears won 62-60 in Norman two weeks ago.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll