After enjoying their best non-conference effort of the Shaka Smart era — a 10-2 mark — the Texas Longhorns fell back into the loss column to kick off Big 12 play, as a lackluster offensive showing led to the No. 6 Baylor Bears cruising to a comfortable 59-44 win.
Jase Febres provided the first points of Texas’ conference slate, opening the action with a free throw nearly a minute into the contest. Nearly another minute passed before Mark Vital slammed one home to give Baylor its first points, sparking what ultimately became a 5-0 run. Texas answered with a 5-0 of its own behind a three from Andrew Jones and a jam from Jericho Sims. On the ensuing possession, though, MaCio Teague connected on a jumper to recapture the lead, 7-6
That was as close as Texas would get throughout the rest of the night.
Only seconds after giving Baylor the lead, Teague connected from the perimeter before a Devonte Bandoo jumper found its mark to push Baylor’s cushion to 12-6.
In what became a theme until the final minutes of the half, Courtney Ramey cut into the lead with a layup, only to see Freddie Gillespie answer with an and-one opportunity against Royce Hamm. On the other end, a smothering defensive effort from the Bears forced Texas into a shot clock violation, and the Bears built upon that momentum moments later after a paid of offensive rebounds led to Jared Butler three to push the Baylor lead to double digits, 18-8, forcing a Texas timeout.
Coming out of the break, Matt Coleman finally connected on a long two to cut into the lead, and a missed perimeter attempt from Davion Mitchell led to a Jones and-one dunk in transition.
Suddenly, Texas was back within a handful, 18-13, and then suddenly, Texas had the ball back after a Vital travel, which served as Baylor’s first turnover of the night. Texas was unable to capitalize, though, and instead, it was Vital who answered for his earlier travel but fighting for an offensive rebounding and finishing at the rim. Coleman once again cut the lead to five with a floater, only to see those points matched on the other end by Tristan Clark.
More than a minute passed before any more points were produced, and those once again came from Teague, who converted from deep just seconds after a cutting Ramey couldn’t finish a wide-open layup off of an excellent dish from Sims.
Suddenly, the lead had ballooned back to double figures, 25-15.
Following an empty possession from both Texas and Baylor, Ramey found Sims with an alley oop to cut the lead back to eight, 25-17, but the Horns were unable to capitalize on another empty touch by the Bears, being forced into a shot clock violation. Matthew Mayer then found the net with a floater, and moments later, Coleman once again cut into the double-digit lead with a layup, courtesy of an offensive rebound by Sims.
After some ugly basketball that featured numerous turnovers and multiple missed shots, Ramey snapped the scoring drought with a jumper before Sims found his mark coming out of the television timeout, cutting Baylor’s lead to just four, 27-23.
Unfortunately for the Horns, those were Texas’ final points of the half. Meanwhile, Baylor utilized the final three minutes off the half to spark a 9-0 run, capped by a Mayer three off of yet another offensive rebound.
Just like that, what was a 27-23 Baylor lead only moments ago stretched to a comfortable 36-23 cushion entering intermission.
As the halftime score would indicate, Texas spent the entire second half playing catchup, and unsuccessfully. The Longhorns did enjoy an early opportunity to cut into Baylor’s commanding lead, though, but simply failed to capitalize. Texas did respond with a 6-0 run to trim the deficit to 38-29. Along the way, though, while Baylor slogged through a five-minute scoring drought, Texas left numerous points on the board, missing four jumpers, including three looks from deep, committed one turnover, and missed a free throw before Febres found the net on his second look from the charity stripe to cap the aforementioned 6-0 run.
Jared Butler snapped Baylor’s drought just seconds later, pushing the lead back to a comfortable double digits, and despite Texas’ best efforts throughout the remaining 15-plus minutes of the action, that’s essentially how things stayed.
Though the Texas defense largely tightened up throughout the second half, the Longhorns offense just never found its footing as shots simply wouldn’t fall. Maybe no example of Texas’ offensive woes and the deficit that caused was more evident than Coleman missing back-to-back layups, which would have cut a 40-31 lead to 40-35. Moments later, Ramey connected on a layup in transition, and after Butler missed a jumper, Jones was fouled and made his second attempt. On the other end, Vital missed a jumper, providing another brief opportunity for the Horns, but Febres couldn’t find the net on his three-point attempt.
So, theoretically, Texas was two narrowly missed attempts from being within two, 40-38, and a missed three from stealing their first lead since 6-5. But missed shots are exactly that — missed shots — and the Longhorns endured 34 misses (18-of-52) on Saturday evening, in including 13 misses from three (3-of-16) and 10 misses (5-of-15) from the charity stripe
These shooting woes, in turn, headlines the Longhorns missed opportunity to kick off their conference slate with a win for the second time in as many seasons.
Sims led all Longhorns with 13 points on 6-of-10 from the field, and added 15 key rebounds that the offense simply couldn’t capitalize on. Only Ramey joined him in double figures with 11 point on 5-of-12 attempts. Beyond Texas’ shooting struggles, though, a key to their latest defeat was allowing Baylor to snag 19 offensive rebounds, which ultimately led to 21 points for the Bears. Similar to the Longhorns, only two bears cracked double-digits in the scoring column, with Teague’s 21 points leading the way, followed by 13 from Butler
Next up, the Longhorns will return home on Wednesday, Jan. 8 to host the Oklahoma Sooners.