WACO, Texas (AP) — Northwestern coach Bill Carmody had a puzzled look on his face when asked about the importance of having two early-season wins away from home against Big 12 teams.
The Wildcats had just held on for a 74-70 victory Tuesday night at Baylor, which was coming off a win at defending national champion Kentucky only three days earlier that avenged a loss in an NCAA regional final game.
"Oh, TCU? I'm sorry. Who knows who's in any place now, right? They were in the Big East for like 60 minutes," Carmody said. "This is a good team, especially here on the road. We played TCU, they've got a lot of new guys, and it was a neutral court. This is like the teams we play, physical, so it's real important."
Reggie Hearn had 17 points with 10 rebounds before fouling out and Northwestern (7-2) snapped a two-game losing streak.
Hearn made two layups for the Wildcats when they opened the second half with an 11-1 run, building on a 35-32 halftime lead they got when Dave Sobolweski hit a 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Baylor bench with 2 seconds left.
"Disappointed because we talked about that at halftime and the first five minutes, to come out and really establish what we wanted to do," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "We'll work toward trying to get consistency. You want to try to find that rhythm and that constant ebb and flow and we've not been able to do that this year."
Still, Northwestern barely hung on after building an 18-point lead.
It was the second consecutive home loss for Baylor (5-3), with its big win at Kentucky in between — on the same day the Wildcats were upset at home by Illinois-Chicago after a 20-point home loss to Maryland.
The Bears had won 29 consecutive non-conference home games over a nearly four-year span before a 63-59 loss to College of Charleston on Nov. 24. In their only other game since, they won 64-55 at then-No. 8 Kentucky 64-55 on Saturday to snap the Wildcats' 55-game winning streak at Rupp Arena.
"It's a real good win for us, a road win against a good club, and we haven't been playing that well. We were sort of in the doldrums," Carmody said. "And I thought tonight, we came out and win or lose, at the end, who knew, but I just thought there was a little change in intensity level."