The Baylor Bears are 1-0 in Big 12 play. In the small picture, that is the most important thing. Baylor fans have to keep that in mind. Add that to the fact that the win was over rival Texas and that adds a little bit of an added bonus. But this was not a pretty win. It was a win that the Bears had to grind out, something that they had not shown they could really do against a good team.
All of their wins against solid opponents came when the bears played at least good. Against Lehigh, the Bears won 99-77, shooting 64.5% from the field. In the 97-78 win over St Johns, Baylor shot 54.5% from the field. Against BYU, they shot 45% in a 79-64 win. The only game that was more of a grind was Kentucky, who they beat 64-55, shooting only 40.7% from the field, but holding Kentucky to 29.6% shooting.
Now take a look at some of their close losses:
Colorado - 37.3% shooting, -1 rebounds, lost by 2 points
College of Charleston - 39.3% shooting, -3 rebounds, lost by 4 points
Northwestern - 44.2% shooting, -13 rebounds, lost by 4 points
Gonzaga - 51.6% shooting, -2 rebounds, lost by 7 points
Their three losses to teams that are simply not as talented as the Bears was primarily due to poor shooting or terrible rebounding. A lot of it came to energy level and effort. They could not grind out of bad shooting games. They almost did against Northwestern, as for most of the game, their shooting was under 35% until that tremendous comeback fell short.
Against Texas, they shot just 35.9% and out-rebounded the Longhorns by 1. Texas shot 44.6%, on their way to making 10 more field goals than the Bears. Texas had just two players with more than 10 points, led by Javan Felix with 26 points. Felix tore up the perimeter defense of the Bears, using a variety of screens and pick and rolls.
The Bears struggled all day to corral Felix, as he carved up the Bears initial defender, be it Pierre Jackson or Deuce Bello. Once past his primary defender, he did a masterful job of hurting the Bears help defenders, be it with a jumper over the oncoming help, or a pass to the help defenders man. Along with being the game's high scorer, he also had 9 assists and just 1 turnover.
Going into the game, we said that the point guard position would be an area where the Bears would be able to dominate and have a big advantage over the Longhorns. That turned out to be a mistake, as Felix outplayed the Baylor senior all-american candidate. At least until overtime started, but we will get to that in a moment.
Alongside Felix, Sheldon McClellan got back his shooting stroke as he knocked down some huge shots late for Texas, especially when the Bears switched to a zone defense to try and slow down Felix. McClellan made 9-19 from the field and finished with 21 points.
The Bears were led by their two star post players, Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin. Both players had doubles in the game and played big minutes. Neither had any foul trouble which let them play as much as possible. Jefferson was the star of the game on offense and on the glass. He finished with 25 points on 7-10 shooting, helped out considerably by his 14 trips to the foul line where he made 11. Jefferson also finished with a 10 rebounds. Austin led the Bears with 12 rebounds, including 6 on the offensive glass. He scored 18 points, mostly off of those second chances he gave the Bears.
Only one other player scored more than 5 points for the Bears, and that was the aforementioned Pierre Jackson. While his shooting was off, making just 5-13 shots, he managed the game well late and got to the line 15 times. The Bears all year struggled to create foul shots outside of Jackson, but in this game, that was not an issue at all. Cory Jefferson did a great job of getting the Texas big men in foul trouble and getting them to lay too aggressive. The Bears earned 45 trips to the foul line, 12 more than in any other game this year. Before the UT game, the Bears averaged around 18 free throws per game, so this was a huge game.
While the Baylor post players dominated the game inside with their ability to draw contact, the Baylor guards not named Jackson struggled terribly shooting the ball. A.J. Walton, Brady Heslip, and Deuce Bello were a combined 3-19. In fact, outside of Jackson, Jefferson and Austin, the Bears shot just 5-28 (17.86%) a terrible mark that hurt the Bears.
Their lack of efficiency from the field allowed Texas to hang around behind the play of Felix and McClellan. However, in overtime, the Bears defense finally showed up in three huge possessions. With 1:29 left in overtime, the Longhorns went up 79-78 after McClellan hit a big jumper near the baseline. That would be the last points Texas would score, as the next 3 possessions had 2 blocked shots, and 1 big steal.
Deuce Bello made the first play, by finally staying in front of Felix. He bodied him up a bit, something that the refs were allowing all game, and used his bigger body to keep Felix from getting into the lane. He had to settle for a tough jumper that Deuce got a hand on causing it fall short right to Pierre Jackson. After hitting two free throws to go up 4, the Bears AJ Walton sealed the game with a huge steal after he swiped the ball from McClellan.
On the last meaningful possession for Texas, the Bears would again block a Felix shot, this one by Gary Franklin. In the last two minutes of action, Javan Felix was held to 0-3 shooting while the Bears lived at the free throw line hitting 12-15 free throws in overtime.
Player of the Game:
Cory Jefferson, Junior, 25 points, 10 rebounds, 1 block, 2 steals
Jefferson was brilliant in the low block against a very good defensive front court for Texas. He used his quickness to get around the Longhorn defenders, and had an array of moves that kept them off balance. He made 7 of 10 shots from the field, and 11 of 14 free throws. He also played great defense against Texas, helping to hold the trio of Cameron Ridley, Jaylen Bond, and Jonathan Holmes to 7 points combined. He also did a great job of holding his own on the defensive glass, grabbing a game high 9 defensive rebounds.
Overreaction Central - Baylor Vs. Texas
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