Baylor was ugly on Saturday afternoon. It certainly did not look like the ranked team and Big 12 contender it purports itself to be for the vast majority of the game against Texas Tech.
But when things looked bleakest, Lester Medford hit the biggest 3-pointer of his Baylor career to send Baylor to a 63-60 win over Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon in Lubbock.
Baylor (14-3, 4-1) got a strong effort from Al Freeman, who broke out of a mini-slump. Freeman led the way with 14 points and a pair of huge 3-pointers. He also hit a couple of big free throws down the stretch, when Baylor was in desperate need.
The Bears ended up shooting 50 percent for the game, but Texas Tech (11-5, 1-4) did not make it easy. Baylor turned the ball over 14 times, including four from each Medford and Freeman. The Bears also had significant trouble moving the ball.
The Bears average 21.7 assists per game, which actually leads the nation. Their 1.78 assist/turnover ratio is tied for No. 2 nationally with North Carolina. But on a day where Medford struggled to run the offense, the numbers struggled too.
Baylor finished with only 10 assists on 25 made baskets and an assist/turnover ratio of .714. Scott Drew would tell you, Baylor is lucky to escape a game with such troubles moving the ball.
When the offense stepped up, the defense slipped. With only a few minutes left to go in the second half, the zone defense was brutal. Rico Gathers was not his usual self, and allowed the Red Raiders to attack the middle of the zone consistently.
The more these games go on, the more clear it becomes that Baylor needs to move away from the zone, at least as a base defense. Baylor has enough length and athletic presence that it does not need to sit back in the zone, but can rather pressure man-to-man. This was one of those days where Texas Tech was able to drive inside at will and attack Gathers one-on-one. It might be time to try something new.
Devaughntah Williams finished with a game-leading 16 points, eight coming in the first five minutes. Aaron Ross added 14 points in 23 minutes for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech shot just 9-for-22 in the second half.
Gathers scored seven points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Taurean Prince scored seven points on five shots, but was limited to only 25 points by foul trouble.
A game after scoring a career-high 17 points, Terry Maston chipped in with 10 big points in the first half to keep the Bears competitive. Over his last six games, Maston is averaging 11.8 points per game on 61.2 percent from the floor. He already might be the best post scorer on the roster.
Baylor will try to keep the momentum going into the next week, as it hosts Kansas State on Wednesday before a marquee matchup with No. 2 Oklahoma at 11 a.m. next Saturday morning in Waco.