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Baylor Lays the Smack on Texas 75-61

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After jumping out to a 19-9 lead in the first nine minutes, Baylor yo-yoed a double-digit lead the rest of the way as Texas would never get closer than 7 points down.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday was a great showcase of what Baylor basketball can do, even though the Bears had a sub-standard day from outside (5-17, 29%).

Taurean Prince proved himself worthy of the All-Big 12 First Team honor he received Sunday. He led all scorers with 24 points on 7-16 shooting, and he had 13 rebounds with 4 assists and 2 steals. He led the team in all of those categories. Prince could get wherever he wanted on the floor, bullying past Texas' undersized wings and daring Texas coach Shaka Smart to double him. Smart, for the most part, didn't apply a consistent, strong double team to force Prince to get rid of the ball. Most of the game the Longhorns only hedged towards him, not enough to contain his powerful driving ability. When he was forced to pass, though, Prince did a nice job of finding the open man, including fellow senior Rico Gathers (13 pts, 9 rebs) for a couple of easy dunks.

Baylor's big men had a nice game. Gathers was 5-9 from the field and 3-3 from the line, while Johnathan Motley and Terry Maston were a combined 4-5 for 13 points in only 18 total minutes. Prince Ibeh, Shaquille Cleare, and a surprise returner Cameron Ridley all had a little too much heft for Motley and Maston to defend on the block, and so Scott Drew went to Gathers, who has played three consecutive games of 20 minutes or more after suffering from illness. He seems to be rounding back into form just in time to help his team make a push in March.

Defensively, the Bears were active in their zone from the start and played to the scouting report. Isaiah Taylor didn't score a point until the 10:46 mark of the second half, largely because Lester Medford and Al Freeman, plus reserve guards Jake Lindsey (I want to talk about him in a minute) and King McClure, did an excellent job of walling Taylor off from the paint. Because of Taylor's quickness and lack of a jump shot, Baylor's guards could sink almost to the free throw line whenever he had the ball up high. Taylor thrives when he can get into the lane and suck in the defense. He wasn't able to get there yesterday with any frequency, which stalled out the Texas offense.

It also helped Baylor that Javan Felix was a miserable 0-6 from the field in 23 minutes of play. The off-guard was a non-factor, even with all the attention given to Taylor.

Cleare, Kerwin Roach, and Connor Lammert were able to score a bit, and Roach especially performed well. Their contributions on offense simply weren't enough to keep up with Baylor's offense.

Lindsey may have had one of the better 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist games a player can have. His lone assist came in transition when Texas foolishly collapsed into the paint and left McClure open in the corner, and his only basket was a halftime buzzer beater when, again, Texas collapsed to the paint and abandoned the corner. On defense Lindsey was solid.

What this game really said about Lindsey as a player, however, was larger than his box score contributions. Even as a freshman he has proven himself a reliable backup point guard who can also play as a small forward. That early consistency in combination with the positional versatility is powerful in March, when you never know how foul trouble or injuries could affect a team's lineup. Yesterday, for instance, there was a stretch where Baylor's backcourt was Lindsey, Freeman, and McClure. On defense, Lindsey was on the wing while Freeman and McClure defended up top. On offense, Lindsey ran the point and initiated offense. What makes that lineup so effective is that it compensates for Lindsey's lack of shooting by giving him two (three including Prince or Ish Wainright) capable shooters without sacrificing size defensively. He can be either a point guard or a "point forward." Next season when Drew rolls out a lineup of Lindsey, Freeman, McClure, Wainright and Motley/Maston Baylor's offense will be a whirl of drive and kicks for layups and threes. The offensive potential that Lindsey and Wainright unlock with their passing is very, very exciting.

Baylor

STARTERS MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
T. PrinceF 37 7-16 2-4 8-8 2 11 13 4 2 0 4 3 24
J. MotleyF 12 3-3 0-0 3-4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 9
I. WainrightG 23 1-5 0-2 1-2 5 3 8 0 0 2 2 4 3
A. FreemanG 35 5-13 1-6 1-2 0 4 4 2 0 0 2 0 12
L. MedfordG 37 1-4 0-1 2-2 0 4 4 2 0 0 1 1 4
BENCH MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
R. GathersF 22 5-9 0-0 3-3 4 5 9 0 1 1 2 1 13
T. MastonF 6 1-2 0-0 2-2 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 4
J. LindseyG 16 1-2 1-2 0-0 1 1 2 1 0 1 1 1 3
K. McClureG 12 1-3 1-2 0-0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 3
J. AcuilF Did not play
J. HeardF Did not play
A. MillsG Did not play
M. LecomteG Did not play
W. MitchellG Did not play
TEAM 25-57 5-17 20-23 15 31 46 9 5 4 15 16 75
43.9% 29.4% 87.0%

Texas

STARTERS MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
C. LammertF 38 5-10 2-6 3-3 2 2 4 1 1 1 2 4 15
P. IbehC 21 3-6 0-0 2-6 2 1 3 0 0 1 1 4 8
J. FelixG 23 0-6 0-3 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0
D. HollandG 17 1-4 0-1 0-1 1 0 1 1 1 1 2 0 2
I. TaylorG 36 3-9 2-2 0-0 0 3 3 9 1 0 1 3 8
BENCH MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
S. CleareF 18 6-10 0-0 0-1 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 1 12
C. RidleyC 2 0-1 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2
T. MackG 2 0-1 0-0 1-2 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1
E. Davis Jr.G 12 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0
K. Roach Jr.G 26 5-10 1-3 2-4 1 5 6 1 2 1 0 4 13
K. YancyG 5 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
D. NewsomeF Did not play
R. McClurgF Did not play
J. SchwartzG Did not play
TEAM 23-60 5-16 10-19 10 17 27 16 5 4 9 19 61
38.3% 31.3% 52.6%

via espn.com

Today, Baylor will face off against Kansas for the third time this season. Kansas won the first two meetings, one in a blowout and the other in a squeaker. If the Bears and Prince can play anything like yesterday against the Jayhawks, we should be in for a fun game. Whatever happens at this stage of the conference tournament is gravy. While a loss won't hurt Baylor's seeding that much (if at all), a win could move Baylor from the 6 line up to 5 or higher.

I'm sure all the Baylor players are thinking about, however, is avenging those two frustrating loses.