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No. 21 Baylor Bears Separate from Texas Tech 81-74

George dropped an easy 27 and the team continues to gel

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 21 Baylor Bears (13-5, 3-3) controlled the entire game in Lubbock for a decisive road win 81-74 over the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Keyonte George showed out again on the road with 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists on 8-15 shooting. His game continues to mature. He scored 16 of Baylor’s first 20 points in the second half, assisted on another bucket, and it never felt like he forced a thing.

That was the stretch where Baylor separated the game. Texas Tech was hot in the first half, but cooled drastically after 7 easy points out of halftime. Over the course of George’s tear, Baylor’s lead grew to 68-54. Tech jacked up threes to try keeping up with the NBA prospect, but finished the second half 5-16 from three after going 7-15 in the first.

Just past the under-12 mark, Tech managed to close the gap to 10. Jalen Bridges, who had yet another good game with 14 points (all in the first half) and 5 rebounds, missed an open three and it seemed that Tech would have a chance to close it to single digits. George skied for a huge offensive rebound that resulted in two LJ Cryer free throws. Baylor looked like they would keep the game from getting too competitive.

Then Jalen Tyson (19 points, 12 rebounds) and Pop Isaacs hit two tough threes, and it was 76-71 with three minutes remaining. Cryer again hit two free throws to expand the lead. His 18 points came quietly next to George’s brilliance, but Cryer came up with points in important moments, from three in the first half and from the line in the second.

Isaacs had a chance to make it 79-74 at the line, and when his miss resulted in a Tech rebound and a long three from Isaacs, it was nearly a 2-point game. Instead, Cryer corralled the rebound and George iced the game with a pair of free throws, giving Baylor a 7-point lead with less than a minute remaining.

A couple of errant heaves from Tech fell harmlessly into Bear hands, and Baylor was able to walk out with a win on the road.

Baylor had an outstanding first half on offense. They were 7-15 from deep, 51.4% from the floor, and turned the ball over just once. That all came out to 1.55 points per possession, the equivalent of shooting 75% from two-point range.

Bridges was particularly hot in the first half. His 14 first half points came on 6-7 shooting with smart cuts and fast transition play. Cryer was 4-4 from three and also had 14 points before half.

Texas Tech was also lights out in the first, scoring 1.33 points per possession on 57% FG and 7-15 3PT. Jaylon Tyson was on fire early with the jumper, and 4 other Raiders scored 6+. Had they not turned the ball over 5 times to Baylor’s 1, Texas Tech may have taken the lead into halftime.

The Bears are starting to put things together, now winning three games in a row and 2 straight Big 12 road games. Those games, of course, have all come against the bottom three teams in the conference. So far Baylor has established itself as well above the bottom tier of the league. Coming up will be chances to move up the power rankings of the conference facing Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. Only the Kansas game will be at home, and there will be a home game against a talented Arkansas team sandwiched in there as part of the Big 12 - SEC Challenge.

Baylor can only go one game at a time, though, and the flow right now is good. If George continues his ascent and gets support from Cryer, Adam Flagler (9 pts, 5 asts tonight), and Bridges, then they’ll have a chance to challenge for the top tier of the league again very soon.