For the 11th time in the last 12 head-to-head matchups, the No. 10 Baylor Bears came out victorious against the No. 20 Texas Longhorns with a resounding 80-63 defeat on Saturday in Waco to bounce back from an injury-riddled stretch.
Baylor was still without leading scorer LJ Cryer and lost forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchuoa to a gruesome knee injury, but still dominated Texas for 35 minutes on both ends of the court.
“I think from where I stand, I think we’re a team that hasn’t proven we can handle some success,” said Texas head coach Chris Beard, who is now 3-8 against Baylor head coach Scott Drew with five straight losses. “I hold myself responsible, too. It’s a player’s game, a coach’s game, and we didn’t have the players ready to play.”
In a familiar sight when the Longhorns lose this season, the Bears were simply longer and more athletic, holding Texas to 32.8-percent shooting while blocking seven shots. Against the no-middle defense that Chris Beard’s former assistant Mark Adams made famous at Texas Tech, the Texas guards were unable to get into the lane to collapse the Baylor defense, leading to only five three-point attempts in the first half.
The only player who scored in double digits for the Longhorns was senior guard Andrew Jones with 11 points. Jones was abysmal in the first half, missing all three of his shot attempts, turning the ball over once, and finishing minus-16. By the time he made some baskets in the second half, a 10-0 run for Texas only cut the deficit to 11 points and Baylor responded with an 11-3 run to end any doubt about the outcome.
Senior guard Marcus Carr struggled, scoring eight points but only hitting 1-of-5 shots from the field and finishing a game-worst minus-20.
After recent positive performances, the frontcourt for the Longhorns took a step back on Saturday, too. Senior forward Timmy Allen dealt with foul trouble and went 3-of-9 shooting for eight points with two turnovers in 25 minutes. Junior forward Tre Mitchell didn’t score until 15 seconds were left in the game and turned the ball over twice. Senior forward Christian Bishop played well when he was able to stay on the court, but fouled out in 16 minutes.
Meanwhile, Baylor was able to get whatever it wanted offensively after starting 1-of-5 shooting, hitting 50 percent from the field as five players scored in double figures, led by guard Adam Flagler, who scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc.
How well did things go for Baylor offensively throughout the game? With under four minutes remaining, an air ball by Flagler turned into a layup for the Bears.
Texas only turned the ball over 10 times, leading to nine Baylor points off turnovers, but the Bears were able to get out in transition anyway, scoring 15 fast-break points against poor transition defense by the Longhorns.
After battling through a recent injury, guard James Akinjo contributed 15 points and dished seven assists.
Forward Flo Thamba was also a factor, scoring 12 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the free-throw line despite entering the game hitting less than 60 percent this season, and adding 11 rebounds and four blocks as he dominated the paint defensively, completely dissuading Texas players from attacking the basket, even when they were able to break down the Baylor defense.
“You’re not going to beat Baylor shooting fadeaway jump shots,” Beard said. “I didn’t like our aggressiveness tonight. You’ve got to take the ball right to a guy’s chest sometimes. I didn’t see Baylor shooting a lot of fadeaway jump shots. They took it right to us.”
Following five wins in the previous six games, Saturday was a sober reminder of what often happens to this Texas team when they face an opponent with superior athleticism, a reality that imposes a significant cap on its upside.
The schedule does lighten on Tuesday with a trip to Norman to face an Oklahoma team that lost eight of 10 games prior to a 15-point win against Texas Tech last Wednesday.