Perry Jones III led Baylor to a 76-71 win over Texas on Saturday, spoiling the Longhorns chance at a big road victory. Â For the 4th time in 5 games, the Longhorns failed to get a season changing win. Â A win that would give them a legitimate shot at the NCAA tournament. Â Saturday’s game against Baylor started out a little differently from what we’re used to. Â Led by Jonathan Holmes, the Longhorns came out of the gate with some fight in them and controlled the game early in the 1st half. Â Â Holmes, who has been limited by foul trouble showed the offensive prowess that he showed early on in the season. Â He scored 7 quick points for Texas and let the talented Baylor forwards know they would have to play defense that afternoon. Â J’Covan Brown also provided an offensive spark for the Longhorns. Â Brown controlled the offense and found open teammates in the zone. Â His timely points were also key in keeping the Longhorns in the game. Â Sadly, Jonathan Holmes and J’Covan Brown were the only Longhorns who had things rolling offensively in the 1st half. Â Kabongo and Chapman were sidelined for most of the half in foul trouble, and Â Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan missed open 3 after open 3 against the Baylor zone. Â McClellan, who had been playing well of late really took a step backwards against Baylor. Â On top of his bad shooting, his defense was absolutely atrocious. Â On top of being bullied in the post by Quincy Miller, he was getting beat off the dribble by the likes of Brady Heslip. Â If Texas is going to make a run to make the tournament, they will need McClellan to step up his efforts defensively. Â As poorly as the Longhorns shot the ball in the first half, they were still only down 9 at the half. Â Looking at the stats after the first half, you would think Baylor was up 20 on the Horns. Â The Bears hit 54% of their field goal attempts and out rebounded Texas 23-10.
The 2nd half started much like the 1st half, with Texas shooting poorly from the field. Â But a combination of things got Texas back into game. Â The 1st and most promising for the Longhorns was Julien Lewis abandoning the 3 point shot and becoming a driver instead. Â Lewis drove the basketball 2 consecutive times and converted. Â Sparked by Lewis’ drives to the basket, J’Covan Brown and Myck Kabongo took over. Â Brown and Kabongo shot the Longhorns back into the game. Â Sparked by Brown and Kabongo’s sweet shooting, the Longhorn defense tightened up as well, and a 12 point Baylor lead evaporated. Â The final 9 minutes of the 2nd half played out similarly to the final 9 minutes of the Kansas game. Â Texas matched Baylor bucket for bucket, but was unable to get the key bucket and key stop to win the game. Â Free throws also played a key role in the Longhorns’ loss. Â Texas shot a pitiful 62% from the free throw line. Â In a 5 point loss, it’s evident that Texas would have won the game had they converted a decent amount of their free throw attempts.
What Lies Ahead for Texas:
Missouri comes to Austin on Monday for the Longhorns’ final game in their brutal 6 game stretch. Â A win against the Tigers on Monday will be a step in the direction of an NCAA tournament at large bid.
Keys to Success for Texas:
– Make shots: Free throws, layups, dunks and jump shots. Â Texas needs to shoot the ball better than they have been shooting in Big 12 play. Â Texas would have won against Kansas had they shot better than 30% from the field, beaten Baylor had they shot better than 62% from the free throw line. Â Texas needs to make shots in order to give themselves a chance to beat Missouri on Monday. Â Part of that is taking good shots. Â Rick Barnes needs to stress attacking the basket more to Lewis and McClellan. Â Both of them have been at their best this season when they have attacked the basket in the early going, gotten some confidence and then start letting the 3s fly. Â Lewis and McClellan have showed they can get hot and carry the Horns. Â Their confidence is key for Texas moving forward.
– Guard the 3 point line: Missouri will run away with the game if Texas allows their shooters to shoot open shots. Â Texas needs to close out on shooters, force them to drive into help defense, and take charges when the opportunity arises.
– Play good defense: If you only tune in to the last 10 minutes of Texas games, you would think they are 1 of the best defensive teams in the nation. Â They are usually battling back from a double digit deficit, and getting the key stops they need. Â They just need to translate that intensity to the first 30 minutes, and they will be fine. Â Missouri is one of the best offensive teams in the country, so if Texas is serious about winning, they will need to play winning defense. Â McClellan will need to step up and take the challenge of guarding Kim English. Â We will also need Sterling Gibbs to play some minutes on Flip Pressey.
– Don’t go zone: Â We haven’t seen it in 3 games, so I think Rick Barnes himself has noticed that it was killing us.
– J’Covan Brown led all scorers with 32 points and 5 assists
– Myck Kabongo added 12 points and 5 assists
– Jaylen Bond and Julien Lewis tied for the Longhorns rebounding lead with 6 each