The Baylor Bears (16-6, 5-4) shot below 40% from the floor for the fourth straight game, tonight finally catching a loss as a result. The Texas Longhorns (18-4, 7-2) came away with the close win, 76-71.
In the final minute of play, Keyonte George (17 pts, 4 Rebs, 5-18 FG) converted a clutch 3-point play through contact to bring the game to just a 1-point deficit. The Bears trailed by single-digits seemingly all game, doing just enough to hang around in a game where Tyrese Hunter and Marcus Carr gave Baylor’s guards fits. Still, it never felt like the Bears had a chance to win the game until it was down to the final minute.
In a shot reminiscent of how Carr finished off Team USA/Baylor in the GLOBL JAM event in July, Texas’ leader got to his spot for a tough two-pointer that gave Texas just enough breathing room with less than 30 seconds remaining.
George would attempt to answer with a poorly selected, 30+ foot three-point attempt. Sir’Jabari Rice (21 pts, 4-5 3PT) was fouled in the scrum for the ball, and his pair of free throws capped his brilliant second half scoring and iced the game. Rice came into tonight’s game just a 31% free throw shooter, but he received some unbelievably open looks off penetration and inside passes from his teammates and, to his credit, knocked them down.
Where Baylor kept themselves alive in this game was offensive rebounding. They held a 14-8 advantage in that category, helping them manufacture 13 for shot attempts then UT on the night. And did Baylor ever need more attempts, shooting a paltry 37% FG and 31% 3PT.
Baylor was also helped out by 7 missed free throws by Texas and some uncharacteristically passive play from Carr. He had only 5 points on the night with just 3 rebounds and a single assist. Carr’s partner Hunter contributed 13 points (3-12 3PT).
It was really the ball movement by Texas that won them the game. Seven different Longhorns recorded at least one assist, and none had more than Timmy Allen’s 4. Allen (18 pts, 6 rebs, 7-10 FG) was lethal from the tip. Much like Arkansas’ forwards on Saturday, Allen hunted off-ball switches to get matched against one of Baylor’s guards, who he’d then post up at the nail. From there, the layups and turnaround jumpers were easy takings.
It’s to Baylor’s credit that they remained in the game. LJ Cryer scored 19 points and was 3-6 from deep, and Jalen Bridges had his now characteristic 13 and 7. But the guards simply weren’t good enough to win tonight. George, Cryer, and Adam Flagler (11 pts) were a combined 16-47 with only 8 free throws between them. That simply will not get the job done.
Baylor’s next two games will be at home, hosting Texas Tech on Saturday and Oklahoma the following Wednesday. If Baylor wants to earn another shot at winning the conference, they will have to win those two games.
And to win those games, they can’t have a 5th or 6th straight game of poor shooting from the guards.