Baylor men’s basketball has shown spurts of brilliance this season, garnering comments from the likes of TCU coach Trent Johnson, who claimed that the Bears are one of the most talented teams in the country.
But those stretches of offensive firepower and defensive intensity are often accompanied by defensive breakdowns and an inability to score on the other end.
Tuesday’s road loss to Oklahoma is a perfect example of such inconsistency.
The Bears were shell shocked in the first half, losing by as many as 26 points in what looked to be an embarrassing loss.
The second half was a different story, however, as Baylor put together an impressive 21-2 run to take the lead from the Sooners with two minutes remaining in the game before giving up the lead and eventually the game.
The second half surge was surprising but by no means unbelievable. Teams around the country, and especially teams in the Big 12 Conference, know how capable the Bears are of putting together a run like that. At least now, anyways.
Baylor is one of the more consistent teams in the country when it comes to beating sub-par teams. As it stands today, they are the only team in the country to have zero sub-25 RPI losses this season.
It’s the games against bigger competition that the Bears have struggled.
Earlier in the season, when Baylor ran into adversity, the Bears folded. This was evident in the Bears’ first Big 12 game on the road against Kansas. The Jayhawks took control from the tip and Baylor could not muster a punch in return, losing 102-74.
In a home showdown against then No. 1-ranked Oklahoma, the Bears looked to be in the game for most of the first half before the Sooners rained a barrage of three-pointers and stole a road win.
Similarly, a road loss to West Virginia and a home loss to Texas Tech exemplified the Bears inability to respond to hot shooting from the opposing team.
Baylor was 7-5 in conference play and had slipped to No. 25 in the AP poll after the Tech loss.
This was when the Bears flipped the script.
Then No. 13-ranked Iowa State looked like they might steal a win in the Ferrell Center after Baylor had given up a six point halftime lead.
But the Bears didn’t fold this time. They fought back and won in overtime.
A beat down of Texas followed by a close loss to the No. 2-ranked Kansas Jayhawks showed everyone the Bears were on the brink of being a top-tier team.
When Oklahoma was up by 21 points at halftime on Tuesday, it was very unlikely that Baylor could make a comeback and win the game. They didn’t win the game, but the comeback sent a message to the rest of the country about the Bears’ toughness.
Head coach Scott Drew’s NCAA tournament history with Baylor includes two Elite Eight’s and a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
The record shows that, in the past, Drew’s teams have been able to take down the toughest teams in the country.
As for his team this year? They seem to be peaking at the right time.