Clutch play down the stretch allowed the No. 10 Texas Longhorns to hold onto an important win over the No. 11 Baylor Bears, 76-71, on Big Monday at the Moody Center. It was only the second win for the Longhorns over the Bears since 2016 and the first since 2019.
Over the final 2:05, Texas hit six massive free throws and received a crucial step-back jumper from guard Marcus Carr with 20 seconds left in a one-point game, one of only two made field goals for Carr in a largely quiet five-point performance for the super senior.
With Carr struggling, forward Timmy Allen was the key playmaker early and finished with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting with six rebounds and four assists. And in another strong performance down the stretch, guard Sir’Jabari Rice scored a game-high 21 points on only seven shots, including four threes, while adding six rebounds.
In the second half, the Longhorns made six threes, only turned the ball over twice, and limited the Bears from the perimeter, who went 2-of-11 shooting from three after hitting six shots from beyond the arc in the first half. Baylor shot just 34.4 percent from the floor after halftime.
Baylor struggled offensively in the early in missing eight of nine shots, including three layup attempts and a blocked dunk, allowing Texas to open up a six-point lead behind strong shooting from the field. It was the ability to hit from beyond the arc that kept the Bears close with 4-of-5 shooting from deep by the under-12 timeout while making only 1-of-10 two-point attempts.
After going scoreless in the first half against Tennessee on Saturday, Allen was the primary playmaker to open the game, scoring six points and dishing out three assists by getting his teammates quality looks like a dunk by forward Dillon Mitchell and an open three by Carr.
When Allen made a tough driving bank shot with 7:12 remaining in the first half, the lead was up to nine points, but Baylor quickly responded with a three from guard Adam Flagler as the long-range marksmanship from the Bears remained accurate, but shots inside the arc erratic until making three of four shots before the under-four timeout to trim the margin to two points.
Two baskets from Allen and two trips to the free-throw line by Rice helped the Longhorns remain in the lead late in the first half, ultimately heading into halftime with a 38-36 lead.
A putback slam by Mitchell and a three from guard Tyrese Hunter energized the Moody Center crowd early in the second half. Mitchell then blocked a shot and found forward Dylan Disu in a high-low action that drew a foul. When Allen hit a jumper for an 8-0 run, the Bears were forced to call a timeout in an attempt to stem the momentum.
Both teams then went through a period of offensive struggles as Texas missed five straight shots and Baylor only cut the lead to four points by hitting only one shot in a nine-shot stretch. Allen finally broke a scoring drought of four minutes and an offensive rebound by guard Brock Cunningham led to an open three for Rice to extend the lead to nine points.
Despite Baylor guard LJ Cryer getting hot and scoring six consecutive points for the Bears, the Longhorns were able to maintain the lead with Rice hitting another big three. After the under-eight timeout, Hunter made another key shot from distance and Rice remained hot by hitting two before the next media break.
Disu made two free throws late in the game and Allen followed with two more of his own, but the guards for the Bears kept making plays with George making two tough shots, including a three-point play with 50.7 seconds remaining. Carr was up to the moment, too, hitting a step-back jumper before Rice pulled down a huge defensive rebound and was fouled, sending him to the line to make two make free throws to effectively seal the game.
The difficult four-game stretch for Texas continues on Saturday with a trip to Manhattan to face No. 7 Kansas State.