With a roster that goes nine deep, the Bears don’t have to play anybody a ton of minutes. But in a 68-60 victory over Texas Tech (I predicted the exact score! Fade my future picks), Teague played 38 minutes and the entire second half. Without him, they wouldn’t have won today.
The Bears win for a host of reasons. If I started writing them out, the paragraph would never end. After he went 2-of-11 from deep in a three game stretch (games two-four) to open the season, Teague fell a bit under the radar—especially with Davion Mitchell’s scorching start, and Butler’s gigantic defensive improvement.
Teague was spectacular today. The Bears elected to play Mark Vital at the five for most of the second half. Those lineups provide quite a bit. Scott Drew said after the game with those lineups, “We had better flow offensively, and defensively could switch everything.” Those switches can put quite a bit of pressure on guards to defend bigger guys and sometimes they’re left without much rim protection. With the Bears up six with 1:45 left, Texas Tech isolated Teague inside the arc. He took a big charge, which prevented Tech from keeping the game too close late.
Playing an entire half should lead a player to get blown by or take some breaks. Teague didn’t. Drew added, Teague has, “one of those bodies that doesn’t really get tired.” He also said, “He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. A low turnover guy. He carried us for a minute offensively.” He sure did—finishing with 12 points and just two turnovers.
Teague’s best skill is that he can make ridiculously difficult buckets. As defenses makes it difficult to hit threes and shots at the rim, Teague can step back and go high off the glass inside the arc and make 2-point jumpers. The opportunity cost makes those shots less efficient for most. For Teague that’s not the case. He’s too accurate from there and doesn’t turn it over much when isolated, which makes those shots work. As the Bears slogged, Teague surged. Without them, they don’t win today.
Winning a Big 12 title requires winning games like today. It’s not easy to beat a top 15 team on the road. Texas couldn’t beat Texas Tech at home, and the Jayhawks are now two games behind the Bears in the loss column. Baylor will have a chance to put more space between themselves and Kansas on Monday. And with someone like Teague on the roster, they’ll have their best chance ever to do it.