Each team relied on its strengths to carry them into overtime tied 60-60. Baylor created extra shots with 18 offensive rebounds and forced Tech into 20 turnovers, including 13 steals and a shot clock violation on the final defensive possession of regulation that eventually led to overtime. Tech, meanwhile, relied on shotmaking. The Red Raiders shot 50% from the floor and 9-11 from the line. While they chronically overpassed, the Raiders made shots at a high rate when they actually took them.
Baylor finished the game shooting 36% from the floor but 42% from three. The Bears could hardly buy a basket inside, but relentless energy on both ends and a desperately needed three point bonanza overcame the Bears’ tough time inside.
In overtime, Baylor continued to go to the basket. Davion Mitchell opened OT with a driving lefty layup, and Freddie Gillespie drained two enormous free throws on senior night to give Baylor a 64-62 lead. After a split pair of free throws from TJ Holyfield, MaCio Teague drove left for a kiss off the glass and a three-point lead. Teague followed that beauty with another, draining a step-back three as the shot clock went off. That shot gave Baylor a four point lead with only 1 minute remaining.
Moretti sank a corner three off an inbound play to bring the game within 1. Gillespie missed a bunny and the game looked all but sealed in Tech’s favor as they streaked out on the fast break, but the heads up steal from Butler on a poor pass from Chris Clarke sent Butler to the line with 12 seconds remaining.
Butler, always calm, hit both free throws to extend the lead to 71-68. Scott Drew elected not to foul and trusted his defense. His players rewarded him, forcing a tough three from Moretti. The rebound eventually led to a Baylor possession after a replay, sealing the game and preserving a chance at a Big XII title share for the Bears.
Devonte Bandoo had a big senior night himself, scoring 18 points on 4-5 shooting from three. He started the game in place of an injured Mark Vital, who sat with knee soreness. He came up big in the second half. His shooting was Baylor’s best offense in the second half from both lines. After hitting a pair of free throws to tie the game late, he answered a Tech three with one of his own, pulling up with a hand in his face.
Gillespie struggled from the floor, but he was a huge presence on the offensive glass and on the defensive end. Gillespie snagged 8 offensive rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. His defense was essential, even after picking up his fourth foul with 4:22 remaining in regulation.
Baylor’s first half was marked by poor shooting from the floor bolstered by offensive rebounding and shooting from the three-point line. The Bears were 35% from the floor but 40% (4-10) from three. Eleven offensive rebounds helped shore up some of those misses inside. Those boards went a long way in keeping the game tied at half despite Tech’s 57% shooting. The Bears shot the ball 9 times more than Tech. Baylor also made 4 of 6 free throws, while Tech had no free throws in the half.
Ramsey and Butler dueled to a near draw in the first half. Butler had 10 points with 2 threes, 4 rebounds, and a steal; Ramsey had 11 points on 4-6 shooting with a pair of assists and 3 triples. Baylor lost Ramsey a couple of times off the ball. Butler, meanwhile, showed good aggression driving the ball and finding his opportunities from outside. His 3 turnovers were troublesome and earned Butler some bench time, but he was key to much of Baylor’s offensive success in the game’s first frame.
The last time these teams met, neither had much luck finding the basket. Combined, the two teams averaged 30% from 3PT and 57% FT. The worrisome part looking back was Baylor’s conference averages (33% 3PT and 68% FT) are much closer to those low marks than Texas Tech’s conference averages (39% 3PT and 75% FT). Tech was going to be the team more likely to show improvement in the return game.
Baylor’s free throw stumbles have largely been credited for losses in 2 of their last three games to TCU and Kansas, and they quite nearly cost them tonight’s game.
Baylor was 15-23 from the line for 65%. Bandoo, Butler, and Gillespie all made clutch free throws late in regulation and in overtime, but earlier misses put them in the desperate need of those shots.
For the last run of conference games, the most worrisome part in this regard is who is shooting the bad free throws. Butler and Mitchell are the two players most looked to to initiate the offense. Those two are shooting a combined 67% from the line. That underplays the number of points lost at the line from missing the front end of one-and-ones. While neither Butler nor Mitchell would appear to suffer from any lack of confidence, that number does affect the kind of offense Baylor can generate in crunch time. It means the Bears are more prone to hunt the jump shot than to take the ball to the rim. Even when they go to the rim, too, it could mean shying away from contact. That leads to tougher shots. Butler is particularly guilty in this regard, as he relies heavily on floaters and scoop shots to avoid contact inside.
Against Tech, both remained aggressive going to the basket, but Mitchell’s struggles from the line hurt Baylor’s offense. It will only become more difficult to rely on him late as he keeps missing. If Baylor is going to make deep runs in the conference and NCAA Tournaments, those two will need to correct what they did today.
On the bright side, neither guard appears skittish about attacking the basket and going to the line. As long as the courage remains there, hope that the shots will start falling remains also.
Matt Mayer had a solid game with 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. He had several good defensive moments, particularly as a weak side defender. He anticipated cutters and didn’t let himself get caught ball watching. With Vital out, Mayer needed a game like he had tonight to give Baylor a chance.
The Bears still have a shot at earning a share of the Big XII title on Saturday after this win. Kansas hosts TCU tomorrow, but they close their season in Lubbock. If the Jayhawks drop one of those games, Baylor will have their shot in Morgantown Saturday to continue making program history.