By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer
No. 2 Baylor men’s basketball took down No. 6 Texas 83-69 in the first-ever matchup between top-10 teams in Texas Tuesday night at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
The dynamic duo of junior guards Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler led Baylor to the convincing victory scoring over half of Baylor’s points, as Mitchell scored 27 points and Butler contributed 21.
The two heavyweights traded blows in the first half, with Baylor stretching the lead to double digits on numerous occasions. Mitchell was integral early in the first half, scoring 16 points with four three-pointers.
“We just were taking really good looks,” Mitchell said. “We weren’t shooting the first one coming down. We were trying to find each other. We were trying to share the ball, and whoever got the open shot took it.”
A controversial third foul took Butler out of the game and allowed Texas to mount a 7-0 run to close the gap just before halftime. Texas junior guard Andrew Jones was the man for Texas, scoring 13 of his 25 points in the first half and keeping the Longhorns in the game.
Baylor led 41-34 at the break, but Texas came out hot, taking their first lead of the game 47-45 three and a half minutes into the second half. Baylor promptly responded with a 16-4 run which widened the gap to 10 and gave Baylor the lead for the remainder of the game.
In the midst of the run, Texas freshman forward Greg Brown threw down a thunderous slam over sophomore forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua but was given a technical foul for taunting after the dunk, giving Baylor two free throws and the ball. Baylor head coach Scott Drew said the maturity of his team and the technical foul was the turning point in the game.
“That’s where a mature team comes in,” Drew said. “When another team makes a great play like that you don’t want it to affect you. Some players will get out of character or out of sorts when something like that happens.”
The Bears were able to play lockdown defense during the last 10 minutes of the game to close out the victory. Jones, who was Texas’ leading scorer, was not allowed to score by the suffocating Baylor defense during the final stretch.
“He’s a tremendous player,” Butler said. “We closed down harder on the shot and made him more of a driver. Just tried to eat up his space and not let him feel so comfortable.”
The win in Austin gives Baylor a firm grip on the Big 12 regular season title race, as the Bears own a three-game lead on Texas and West Virginia, the two teams behind Baylor in the standings.
“We just keep playing with each other. Keep playing together and good things will happen,” Mitchell said. “The job’s not finished, so we’re going to keep playing hard.”
The undefeated Bears will be back in action at 3 p.m. Saturday against arch-rival TCU in Waco. The game will be televised on ESPN+.