By Will Potter
Baylor traveled to Mizzou Arena hoping to come away with a signature road win but could not slow down the Tigers and fell 77-59.
The fastest 40 minutes in basketball whizzed by, as the Bears could not keep up with Missouri’s transition offense and struggled with turnovers against the Tigers press.
“Missouri does such a good job forcing turnovers and that’s been our problem all year long. It was an opportunity for us to get better at handling pressure,” head coach Scott Drew said. “Obviously, with six assists and 21 turnovers, we didn’t do what we wanted to do. Give all the credit to Missouri.”
Baylor players were not available for comment after the game.
The Bears took an early 2-0 lead and never led again the entire game. Senior Lacedarius Dunn was held scoreless at halftime for the first time all season and Baylor went into the locker room down 33-20. He finished with 12 points and hit a pair of 3-pointers, the 41st straight game in which he has hit at least one trey.
From the beginning of the game, Baylor was outhustled by Missouri, and it showed in the score and in the statistics. The Bears were outrebounded by the Tigers and allowed Missouri 22 points off turnovers.
Drew said Missouri’s rotation, featuring nine players who played at least eight minutes, gave the Tigers an advantage with less fatigue. For whatever reason, he continued, the Bears did not box out effectively.
“If you don’t give them maximum effort, they’re going to get the rebounds. I’ve thought all year long that they’ve been kind of underrated. Watching film you realize how good they are,” Drew said.
Freshman sensation Perry Jones III recorded a double-double for Baylor scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds after a slow shooting start. The Bears freshman guard Stargell Love chipped in 10 points and was perfect from beyond the arc.
Wednesday was a big game for Baylor, as it is fighting for a spot in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Before tipoff, ESPN’s Joe Lundardi projected Baylor to one of the last four teams left out of the tournament in March. With only three games remaining in the Big 12 regular season, the Bears now must almost certainly win the rest of their regular season games to secure themselves a spot in the biggest tournament in NCAA basketball.
With the loss today, Baylor’s overall record dropped to 17-10 with a 6-7 record in conference play.
The Bears play host to Texas A&M Saturday and look to make it two wins in a row versus the Aggies. On Feb. 5 Baylor scored an upset at Reed Arena, topping the Aggies 76-74 on a layup with 3.1 seconds left in the game.
“I think we’re going through a tough streak, but hopefully it’s gone. And now we’ve got two out of three at home against good teams, as is everyone in the Big 12,” Drew said.
After the Aggies, the Bears travel to Oklahoma State Tuesday. Baylor’s regular season ends with one last chance at a NCAA tournament resume-booster, as Texas comes to the Ferrell Center on March 5.