Bears rally, cannot catch Missouri in Big 12 Finals

No. 1 sophomore forward Perry Jones III blocks a layup attempt from Mizzou No. 12 guard Marcus Denmon during the Big 12 Championship finals Saturday evening, Mar. 10, 2012, in the Sprint Center at Kansas City, Mo. Baylor finished with a 90-75 loss to the Tigers. Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

No. 1 sophomore forward Perry Jones III and No. 4 senior forward Quincy Acy participate in the press conference after Baylor's 90-75 loss to Mizzou Saturday evening, Mar. 10, 2012, in the Sprint Center at Kansas City, Mo. Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

by Greg DeVries
Sports Writer

No. 11 Baylor men’s basketball finished runner-up in the 2012 Big 12 tournament after losing to the Missouri Tigers 90-75. Baylor was led by sophomore Perry Jones III, who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

“I thought we defended, rebounded, worked the ball better offensively in the first two games. Today we didn’t,” head coach Scott Drew said.

Missouri started the game strong, hitting their first three shots. The Tigers were able to get easy baskets inside and were hitting their 3-pointers to start.

The Tiger’s four-guard lineup is tough for any team to match up against. Baylor encountered the same problems that many other teams did this season.

“They’re a tough team to match up to, playing four guards and one big. That’s why they’re one of the best teams in the country; because it’s a hard matchup,” Jones III said. “They know how to play with each other.”

Missouri finished the first half with 22 points in the paint and shot nearly 54 percent from the field. Free throw shooting really hurt the Bears. Missouri shot 9 of 12 from the line on 10 Baylor fouls. Baylor shot just five free throws on five Missouri fouls.

Baylor was winning the battle on the glass at halftime. The Bears grabbed 22 rebounds, 10 of them on the offensive side, compared to Missouri’s 14.

Missouri led 43-37 going into the locker room. The Tigers started the second half strong and in similar fashion to the first, shooting 13 of 24 from the field and 5 of 10 from the 3-point arc. Baylor’s shooting percentages dropped in the second half to 33 percent from the floor and 26 percent from the arc.

“They did a great job of hitting shots. And we had some mental mistakes on defense that cost us. So it’s a good learning experience, but we have to learn from it,” Acy said.

A lot of Baylor’s troubles came in the paint. Acy, freshman Deuce Bello, and others struggled from 15 feet and in. Missouri’s transition defense teased Baylor into taking 3-pointers that were not in rhythm. Sophomore Brady Heslip aside, the Bears shot 1 of 11 from 3-point range.

Close-out defense was not the only problem for Baylor’s defense. Missouri’s guard penetration led to many Baylor fouls. Baylor committed 25 fouls in the game, and Missouri capitalized on these fouls by shooting over 80 percent from the line.

Baylor did get good help from its bench, however. Bello and junior A.J. Walton came off of the bench to combine for 21 points. Bello shot 4 of 6 and grabbed five offensive rebounds.

Up next, the Bears will head to the NCAA Tournament. Selection Sunday is tomorrow and Baylor will find out who and where it plays after the bracket is determined.

“The Big 12 does an incredible job preparing the teams for the NCAA and postseason,” Drew said. “For teams to move on now to the NCAA tournament, they’re not in that shock and awe of how the rules are for the postseason, and for our team, especially with three newcomers and one guy that’s never been in postseason starting, this hopefully will prepare us for that.”