It’s always a rock fight when these teams meet.
Texas Tech threw the ball away with 30 seconds remaining and the score 63-60 in the Raider’s favor.
Akinjo got to the line, scoring on both opportunities to make it a 1-point game.
Texas Tech wouldn’t fold, though, They made their free throws, and Baylor barely get a shot up on the other end. Davion Warren’s first points of the game put things on ice from the line as Baylor tried to foul their way back into the game.
The 65-62 loss ends Baylor’s win streak at 21 games and a home winning streak of 22 games. The 21 game streak is tied for the second longest winning streak in Big XII conference history.
The No. 1 Baylor Bears (15-1, 2-1) will get a chance on Saturday to hold onto their top-ranking with a home game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Texas Tech Red Raiders (12-3, 2-1) will hold first place in the conference race when they play Oklahoma State on Thursday to make up a game missed earlier this season due to COVID.
After going 5-10 from three, the Bears struggled to convert open looks from outside. Baylor was just 3-14 from deep in the second half.
Adam Flagler had an uneven night after playing the hero Saturday against TCU. While he led the team with 17 points, he also missed key free throws, turned the ball over twice, and nearly fouled out.
James Akinjo gave Baylor life, hitting a much needed three with under a minute remaining to make the score 63-60. His 17 points were enough to keep Baylor close, but he was only 5-14 from the floor and 1-8 from deep. Tech’s long defenders were in his face all night. On the final possession, he couldn’t find his balance as one Tech defender after another flew across his vision.
Tech scrapped and clawed all second half and manufactured just enough scoring to overcome Baylor’s 5-point halftime lead.
Five Raiders did nearly all the damage, each scoring double-figures. McCullar’s 12 points were impressive after he was obviously laboring with an ankle injury early in the game. He added 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Obanor and Williams put in 13 each. Arms and Nadolny added 14 and 11 respectively.
Arms’ dunk over Mayer with just over a minute remaining was the dagger.
Flagler had a chance to bring the game back to one possession, but a missed front-end free throw couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. Baylor was only 6-11 from the free throw line.
Texas Tech tied the game at 46 with a thunderous dunk after a poor pass from Flagler. Tech would gain their first lead of the game the next possession on a free throw from Nadolny.
Akinjo would answer with a pair of free throws to retake the lead, only for Arms to score on the put back. Right on time, Mayer flushed a lob in answer, and Baylor took a 52-51 lead headed into the under-8.
Coming out of halftime, neither team could find much footing. The defense was intense on both sides of the floor. Blocks, turnovers, steals, missed shots — all manner of non-scoring action occurred with a dunk or three sprinkled in to give savor to the game.
Akinjo connected with Brown for an enormous dunk to give the Bears a 41-37 lead with 14 minutes remaining and put energy back in the Ferrell Center. Tech didn’t fade, though, and the game stayed close.
Neither team could gain more than a 4-point lead for the next 12 minutes minutes when Tech look a 59-52 lead following a 10-2 run.
That would prove more than Baylor could overcome.
First Half Flow
The first half was an exaggerated back-and-forth affair. Opening on a 9-0 run, Baylor then allowed Tech to answer with a 7-0 run. Then a 17-4 Baylor run was followed by a 12-3 Raider run.
Both teams were playing physical defense, but Baylor struggled to adjust when Tech went to a zone defense. That was partly responsible for the Tech run that closed out the half. Baylor’s guards struggled to identify and then break down their defender off the dribble, and the gorgeous ball movement of earlier runs evaporated.
Flagler was once again a man on fire from deep, this time in the first half. He was 4-6 from outside, including the games first bucket.
Both teams had success getting into the paint. Relatively few points, however, came off of fast break opportunities, something you might expect when two top defenses are involved. Over half of Tech’s first half points came in the paint. For Baylor, their 15 points off threes was enough to give them the 5-point edge at the break.
Tonight, Baylor couldn’t find ways to get into the paint after the first 8 minutes of the game. The threes were open, though, and that was a bit of success that just didn’t turn into points.
Drew clearly missed having the length and savvy of Jeremy Sochan. Tech is full of rangy players, and Baylor’s bevy of modestly sized guards couldn’t produce when Drew turned to the three-guard lineups.
The interior defense is also a growing concern. Last season, Baylor’s inside defense was frequently a weak side rotation leading to a charge call. This season, referees are calling that the other way, and those turnovers are becoming free throws and flop warnings. The coaching staff will have to identify ways to prevent the penetration that Big XII teams have been able to create.
Oklahoma State is another team that profiles like Tech: a middling offense with lockdown defense.
The Bears will have a chance to show how they can bounce back after a loss for the first time since winning a national title.