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Baylor Beats Texas Tech 59-57

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NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Baylor Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Terry Maston’s second excellent game this week, Baylor (17-10, 7-7) knocked off Texas Tech (22-5, 10-4) 59-57. Baylor has now won five consecutive games. The Bears return to the court at 6:00 on Tuesday against West Virginia. That game is at the Ferrell Center.

Even with a terrible offensive half, Baylor took the lead with 1:20 left off a Maston make. He’d scored five points on two consecutive possessions, which gave Baylor the lead for the first time since 18:30 in the second half.

This was a contest of giving the game away, then taking it right back. Jake Lindsey missed two free throws with a one point lead not long after Maston’s makes. He then blocked Texas Tech’s second to last and last attempt. Mark Vital added another big contest in the final minute to make Texas Tech’s four minute lead inside four minutes irrelevant.

Baylor’s defense won this game. Baylor’s offense scored just .71 points per possession (PPP) in the second half. America’s worst offense averages .87 PPP. With missed free throws (8-of-15), poor shooting (25% from the field) and a ton of fouls (10), in the second half, Baylor still won. They did it by locking down on defense. Texas Tech attempted just 14 three point shots. They scored only .86 PPP over the full game. And they shot just 39% from the field.

Maston was once again phenomenal. He had 24 points on 19 shots and finished plus six, which tied Vital for the team lead. Baylor would never again trail after he scored five points on consecutive possessions with Baylor down four.

Despite a street fight in the second half, the Bears were good for most of the first half. In the first 19:30, Texas Tech went 0-of-3 from deep. Baylor’s zone and activity did a nice job running the Red Raiders off the perimeter. Vital was active with pass fakes and on the glass.

Baylor led at halftime 35-31. Vital ended up with a bloody nose after diving for a loose ball on a play that was deemed inadvertent contact. The Bears had time for the last shot, but they went too early. Texas Tech took the gift and made a three before halftime. That felt like a giant moment, and if not for the Bears’ late defensive heroics, it would have been.

This was an incredibly close contest. Keenan Evans, Texas Tech’s best player, did not play the second half. The Red Raiders will claim that factor changed the game. But Baylor won this game. They missed plenty of okay looks and went on a nine and half minute drought from the field. They still won. When the Bears needed a defensive play, Lindsey, Jo Lual-Acuil, Vital and company made plays. Texas Tech didn’t.

With this win, Baylor now sits on the right side of the bubble. They’ve knocked off the league’s two best teams and swept their rival. They’ve beaten an Oklahoma State team that won in Allen Fieldhouse and knocked off an Iowa State team that beat them earlier in the year. They’ve won shooting well, and they’ve won shooting poorly. And if the season ended today, this squad—that started 2-7 in their league—would be in the NCAA Tournament.