Pierre Jackson figures his biggest role for Baylor is to get the ball in his hands and try to make something happen. The senior point guard and preseason Big 12 Conference player of the year came through in the clutch against Texas in the league opener Saturday.
Jackson scored 11 of his 24 points, including nine free throws, in overtime, and Cory Jefferson made the tiebreaking free throws with 50 seconds remaining as Baylor beat the Longhorns 86-79 without head coach Scott Drew on the sideline.
“We all have our roles, and that’s just one of mine. … My teammates and the coaches have a lot of faith in me, confidence in me,” Jackson said. “And I just try to go out there and help my team win. Isaiah (Austin) was telling me the whole time, ‘Bring us home. Bring us home.’ And I was doing my best.”
Jefferson led the Bears (9-5) with 25 points, and Jackson and Jefferson combined to score all but one of Baylor’s 18 points in overtime. Jackson had assists on both of Jefferson’s baskets in the extra session.
Austin, the 7-foot-1 freshman for the Bears, had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Javan Felix had 26 points and nine assists for Texas (8-6), and Sheldon McClellan scored 21 points.
McClellan’s 3-pointer from the right wing put Texas up 75-74 with 2:25 left in overtime. But the Bears regained the lead when Jackson made a head-fake and drew a foul in the corner with the shot clock running down, then made two of three free throws.
“Pierre Jackson brings a lot of experience and toughness to the team,” Felix said. “He did a good job of controlling the overtime and everything they wanted to do, pretty much. It’s just very difficult when you have a nice, good player like him.”
The Longhorns were up 79-78 when McClellan made a jumper with 1:29 left, but that was their last lead. Jackson made a free throw with 1:22 left after darting into the lane to try to get to the basket.
“Coach emphasized that. Get to the paint,” Jackson said. “We’ve got some great ‘bigs’ in there. If you miss a shot, they’re most likely going to get the rebound and put it back in. Or if they help over, we throw it down to them and it’s a dunk with (Jefferson).”
McClellan missed a 3-pointer after that, and Deuce Bello rebounded for Baylor. Jefferson was fouled on a shot and made the go-ahead free throws.
Drew served the first game of a Baylor-imposed two-game suspension from Big 12 games. The suspension was announced in April, after an investigation revealed hundreds of impermissible telephone calls and text messages to recruits. Assistant coach Jerome Tang ran the team in Drew’s absence.
Baylor led 40-31 at halftime after a 10-0 run in which Jefferson had a layup and two free throws. Before that, Julien Lewis hit a 3-point to put the Longhorns up 31-30 with 3:45 left in the first half.
Texas got even at 46 when McClellan made a jumper with 15 minutes left, and it was 64-all after Jonathan Holmes made a 3-pointer for Texas with 4:14 left.
Austin made two free throws with 57 seconds left in regulation. Holmes dunked with 38 seconds left for a 68-all tie, and neither team scored again in regulation.
Brady Heslip was way off on an off-balance jumper for Baylor with 2.4 seconds left and the shot clock running down. Officials ruled it didn’t hit the rim, but Texas couldn’t get off another shot before the buzzer.
“The first half, we didn’t play with the kind of effort you’ve got to really play with all the time,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “The second half was much better. There were some really bright spots that we can build on. But it still goes back to everybody has got to get involved.”