Baylor coach Scott Drew didn't expect Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua to return this season.
But Tchamwa Tchatchoua figures to be a significant late-season addition for the No. 14 Bears after making his season debut in Baylor's Saturday win over Texas Tech.
The Bears take on Oklahoma on Wednesdayin Waco, Texas, just shy of one year since Tchamwa Tchatchoua suffered a knee injury that included multiple torn ligaments and nerve damage.
"It was amazing just to get a chance to play in front of this crowd after (that long)," Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. "I've been counting the days. ... I feel like it was a miracle for me to even be out here."
The 6-foot-8 forward, who was the Big 12's co-Defensive Player of the Year last season, had eight points and four rebounds in 14 minutes in his return.
"(Jonathan's) aggressiveness and how loud he is, it permeates, radiates," Drew said.
Tchamwa Tchatchoua was a big piece off the bench for the Bears' 2021 national championship team and figures to play a significant role for Baylor moving forward this season.
"Every time I come in the gym, I see Jon," junior forward Jalen Bridges said. "He's a huge part of our team. Even when he wasn't playing, he was leading. And now, to have him back out there with us, it's everything. He's the heart of our team."
After an 0-3 start in Big 12 play, the Bears (17-6, 6-4 Big 12) have won seven of their last eight to get back in the conference race.
One of those victories came over the Sooners, Jan. 21 in Norman, Okla. Oklahoma pushed the Bears to the edge in that game before Baylor pulled off a 62-60 win behind 16 points from Adam Flagler.
For the Sooners, that defeat was one of a series of close losses early in the Big 12 season. Of Oklahoma's first seven conference games, six were decided by five points or fewer.
Lately, though, things have snowballed against the Sooners.
Oklahoma (12-11, 2-8) has lost its three Big 12 games since the loss to Baylor by an average of 23 points per game, including Saturday's 93-61 setback at West Virginia.
Sooners coach Porter Moser has been adjusting his rotation recently, working to find combinations to be successful.
One of his first moves was to give freshman Otega Oweh an expanded role in the first meeting against Baylor.
After playing sparingly to open conference play, Oweh has averaged 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in 14.8 minutes over his last four games. Oweh had five points combined in Oklahoma's first six conference games.
"I think we've got to keep working on him, on his skill level on offense and everything," Moser said of Oweh. "But man, he works his tail off."
In Saturday's loss, Moser inserted Bijan Cortes into the starting lineup for the first time this season, and used Joe Bamisile off the bench for 20 minutes. Bamisile had played just six combined minutes in Big 12 play before Saturday.
"We've got to get better," Moser said.
--Field Level Media