Longhorns hold strong against Baylor rally, 69-60

Associated Press
Texas guard Cory Joseph, right, looks to pass the ball around No. 5 forward Perry Johns III during the first half of the game in Austin.

By Jim Vertuno
Associated Press Sports Writer

AUSTIN — Freshman Tristan Thompson had 17 points and 13 rebounds and No. 3 Texas held off a furious rally by LaceDarius Dunn and Baylor to remain undefeated in the Big 12 with a 69-60 victory Saturday.

Dunn scored 22 points in the second half as Baylor cut an 18-point deficit to three in the final 2 minutes. Texas led 65-60 when Dunn’s 3-pointer rattled in and out of the rim with about 25 seconds left and Texas’ Gary Johnson made two free throws to put the game away.

Texas (22-3, 10-0) could have settled the game much earlier, but went 22 of 37 from the free throw line.

Baylor (16-8, 6-5) was the first Big 12 team to stay within 10 points of Texas this season.

Jordan Hamilton scored 17 points and Johnson added 13 for the Longhorns, who could make a move to No. 1 after top-ranked Ohio State’s loss to Wisconsin on Saturday. The Longhorns handed No. 2 Kansas its only loss of the season, on Jan. 22.

Texas reached No. 1 for the first time in program history last season with a 17-0 start, then went on a losing run that left them unranked in a matter of weeks.

Baylor tested the Longhorns like no other team has during the winning streak. Texas was in complete control after a blistering first half, then looked helpless to stop Dunn in the second as he seemed to score at will.

Baylor has more size than Texas has seen this season with three starters at least 6-foot-10, and the Bears tried to use that bulk to match Texas’ physical style of play. Both teams were throwing around some muscle and the game featured several early dunks.

Texas easily broke down Baylor’s zone when the Bears had early foul troubles and the Longhorns shot 61 percent over the first 15 minutes. Texas did just about anything it wanted to offensively in the first half, whether it was shooting over the zone or driving through it.

Hamilton had 12 points in the first half and his baseline dunk on a three-point play put Texas ahead 34-15. Defensively, the Longhorns forced 10 turnovers, had six blocks in the half and all but shut down Dunn over the first 20 minutes.

Texas led 38-22 lead at halftime and opened the second with Thompson’s dunk on an alley-oop pass from Dogus Balbay. But Thompson was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim.

Dunn made one of two free throws to start a 7-0 Baylor run — including another dunk by Perry Jones III, who was locked in a game-long battle under the basket with Thompson.

The Bears had clearly found their rhythm and cut Texas’ lead to 44-36 when Dunn hit a tough shot over Balbay and converted a three-point play.

Dunn was just getting started on a dizzying run of layups and jumpers over the next 10 minutes. He scored 16 of Baylor’s 17 points in one stretch to get the Bears within 61-57 with 3:42 to play.

Texas’ biggest problem was that Baylor was willing to foul to send the Longhorns to the line. Time after time, the Longhorns missed one or both shots to give away points and keep the Baylor rally going.

It wasn’t until the Bears cut the lead to 63-60 on Jones’ three-point play that Thompson, who was 5 of 10 at that point, made two free throws. Dunn missed his chance to keep Baylor alive and Texas finished the game making four straight free throws by Johnson and Cory Joseph in the final seconds.