USA TODAY Sports
Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip rimmed-out two consecutive threes to end the game and the Baylor Bears, who once trailed Oklahoma by 16 at home, lost their second conference game this season after one of the best comebacks in school history. The real story of the game, however, should be the performance of freshman Isaiah Austin.
Ok, put aside the final score or the fact that Baylor looked in the second half like the team we didn't see in the first, and focus solely at the line for freshman Isaiah Austin: 21 points, 21 rebounds, including 12 (!!) offensive. That is incredible. Other-worldly, even. The first 20-20 game for a Baylor Bear since 1997, it was easily the best individual performance we've seen ... well, since 1997, I guess. That was amazing.
Now getting back to everything else, when Baylor watches the film of this game, they're going to see a stark difference in defensive effort from the first half to the second. They went from lackadaisically coming off screens, giving Amath M'Baye basically whatever shot he wanted in the first half to flying around in the second and playing the kind of defense their talent and athleticism makes them capable of doing. A.J. Walton, despite earning my ire on twitter for his poor offensive play, was a big part of that change going into the final minutes, especially, and deserves credit for not letting the rest of the game hurt his focus. Pierre Jackson, after bricking six threes in the first half, ended the game with 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. He, like the rest, played as well in the second half as they did poorly in the first, if that makes sense. I did find it very interesting that our best play came in a four-guard lineup with Cory Jefferson on the bench. Very interesting.
We're going to look back on this game regretfully in the entire scheme of conference play for several reasons, not least of which is that I still believe Baylor is the "better" basketball team than Oklahoma, results of tonight's game notwithstanding. We're now lumped in a pack of teams behind undefeated (in conference play) Kansas, all vying for position against each other. We needed to hold serBaylor has to reach the point where they can play like they did in the last 20 minutes for the entire 40, otherwise we'll continue to see them fritter away games they probably should have won. If you're looking for a positive, however, I think you found it in the last few minutes with a team that performed as well as we expect them to all the time.
Oh, and make your freaking free throws. Seriously.
*Props to Greg Glasson on twitter for pointing out that not only was Heslip's final shot not a 3 (his foot was on the line), he also didn't get it off in time. That makes missing it a little easier to bear since it wouldn't have counted, anyway.
**Check back later when the box score widget starts working. I've submitted a ticket.