By Daniel Hill
The Baylor Bears lost to the Texas Longhorns 79-70 in Austin on Monday. It was a loss that carried a lot of weight in determining Baylor’s hopes of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. With only one regular season game remaining on Saturday against Kansas, the Bears will likely have to have a stellar performance in the Big 12 tournament to earn an NCAA bid.
Knowing the utmost importance of winning this game, senior guard Pierre Jackson did all that he could to lead the Bears to victory. Jackson was the Bears’ leading scorer with 22 points. He also contributed in multiple facets of the game with nine assists, three rebounds and one steal.
Freshman center Isaiah Austin finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
Aside from Jackson and Austin, no other Baylor player finished with double-digit points.
Junior guard Gary Franklin gave the Bears solid contributions from the bench by scoring nine points, all on 3-pointers without a single missed shot.
The first time Baylor and Texas met this season in the Ferrell Center, the Longhorns did not have guard Myck Kabongo for the contest. Kabongo made his presence known throughout Monday night’s matchup with 19 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals.
With the score tied 55-55 with 6:35 left in the second half, Kabongo took over the game.
Kabongo started by making a free throw to give Texas the lead. Baylor countered with a fast-break layup from sophomore guard Deuce Bello.
Texas freshman forward Ioannis Papapetrou crossed into the lane for a left-handed layup, and after Baylor came up empty-handed on the next possession, Papapetrou drilled a three to give Texas a 61-57 lead.
Texas freshman center Cameron Ridley followed up with a thunderous dunk in the paint, despite Austin’s defense. The dunk gave Texas a 63-57 lead. Austin made it a one possession game again by boldly attempting a 3-pointer and coming through with the make to cut the Texas lead to three, 63-60.
Texas’ leading scorer for the game, sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan, then knocked down a jumper to stretch Texas’ lead to five.
On the ensuing possession, Jackson flashed into the lane and was fouled. Jackson nailed both free throws.
Kabongo hit another layup for Texas and then Bello answered with a highlight two-handed jam. The Baylor bench was fired up after Bello’s dunk and the score put Baylor back to within three of Texas, 67-64.
The true Texas dagger came when Kabongo passed to sophomore guard Julien Lewis for a clutch three-pointer.
Texas fouled Bello hard as he went up for a dunk. Bello made one of two free throws to keep Baylor within five, 70-65.
Texas went on to hit seven more free throws to secure the win after going on a 5-0 run. McClellan scored on a breakaway layup to give Texas a 79-70 victory over the Bears.
The Baylor loss gives the Bears a 17-13 overall record and a 8-9 Big 12 Conference record. The Bears host the No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks at 5 p.m Saturday at the Ferrell Center in the regular season finale.