In a battle of top six teams, the No. 6 Longhorns (11-4, 5-3) had long stretches’ of the game when they looked the part and went shot-for-shot with No. 2 Baylor (17-0, 9-0). As Texas had momentary lapses and ran out of gas late, Baylor’s elite consistency reinforced a clear message: it is the class of the Big 12 after a 83-69 win in Austin. Here are 10 postgame thoughts:
1) The Longhorns biggest issue tonight: Baylor is simply better than them. On a night when Texas had a B- performance, Baylor, unquestionably in a college hoops tier of its own with Gonzaga, delivered an unflappable A-grade effort.
Texas fought. It competed. And UT took the floor in the second half intent on delivering a loud message, which it did. But Baylor kept making shots, and kept playing better, more aggressive defense than its counterparts. When the Longhorns ran out of gas late in the second half, a relentless, elite basketball team was ready to pounce.“
Just tip of the hat to Baylor and the way that they attacked, particularly after we took the lead in the second half. I thought our guys did a terrific job coming out of halftime that four or five-minute stretch for us. That’s how you have to be. But that’s how you have to be over 40 minutes. And Baylor makes it tough for sure. I don’t know if I remember a game between two highly ranked teams where both team shot that well from the field. But obviously a big difference there is that we turn the ball over 17 times. And we were 3-fo4-14 from the foul line. So, you just can’t have those two things. In addition to some of the defensive breakdowns we had.”
Texas is not in Baylor’s tier. Only one other college basketball team is. The Longhorns are good, but Baylor is elite. Baylor never acted like it wasn’t in total control of the game. While UT’s poise and aggressiveness wavered, Baylor’s was about as straight of a line as a college team’s could be. That was the difference.
2) As it happened, I felt Adam Flagler’s key three-pointer was an early dagger. Davion Mitchell immediately followed one dagger with another. With 7:44 remaining, Courtney Ramey made a three-pointer to cut the Baylor lead to 65-59. Following a Baylor timeout, Texas defended well in the half-court.
But Flager hit a deep, standstill three before the clock could expire. Jericho Sims was then fouled. He missed both free throws as his struggles at the line continued. Mitchell, who was the best player on the floor and scored 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting (5-of-7 from three-point range), followed with another three. Suddenly, the Baylor lead was back up to 12.“Moving forward, we have to be better, like, point blank,” said Andrew Jones about his team’s defense.
3) That sequence followed Greg Brown catching a body as he cut from the opposite corner, received a Jericho Sims pass, and threw down a vicious dunk on Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua.
As you can see in the clip, Brown mean-mugged his victim for about three seconds as he began to backpedal down the court. Almost immediately, the freshman was whistled for a technical. Baylor promptly made both free throws and followed with a layup on the ensuing possession to push its lead back to 59-51.I get it. Texas can’t afford to get a technical in that position, and especially against a team as good as Baylor. The Bears are good enough without any help. Smart said after the game it’s a teaching moment that can’t happen. Andrew Jones, basically, said the same and his young teammate has to avoid that. Again, I get it.
But we hear everyone talking about playing with emotion and aggressiveness. So, a guy can’t show a little after that dunk? These guys aren’t robots. That might have been the dunk of the year. And he gets a weak technical for staring at the defender after snatching his soul? There were some assaults happening on drives in the paint late in the second half that weren’t even whistled as common fouls. Brown didn’t even say a word. Heck, he didn’t have to.
The problem for Texas wasn’t the technical. Rather, the issue with Brown was he wasn’t nearly good enough for his team. He scored just five points, played only 19 minutes and somehow the guy who led the Big 12 in defensive rebounding percentage only grabbed one rebound. For both Brown and Kai Jones, the physicality of tonight’s game appeared to be a little too big for them.
“That’s because those guys are still learning that a game like tonight the intensity level, the aggressiveness is another notch higher than maybe other games that we’ve had,” responded Smart when asked about the ineffectiveness of Brown and Jones. “And when those guys get the ball around the basket, they’ve got to find a way to go finish. Those guys have to put more of an imprint on the game on the offensive glass when they’re in a game. We had eight offensive rebounds. Jericho and Andrew had five of them. Those other guys, they’ve got to go grab the ball.”
4) I don’t believe this game can be described only with the statistics, but certain ones do tell a lot of the story…
READ THE REST OF THIS POSTGAME COLUMN AND DISCUSS TEXAS BASKETBALL INSIDE THE 40 ACRES (PREMIUM SUBSCRIBERS)