WACO -- Losses happen in basketball. Every one needs to be taken in the context that college basketball is a marathon, not a sprint.
Baylor’s 84-66 loss to Texas Tech was a long time coming. The Bears’ play has slipped all over the court, but especially on the defensive end. Baylor allowed Texas Tech to shoot a ridiculous 57.8 percent from the floor, including 66.7 percent in the second half.
“Defensively, we could have done things better on our end, but we have to give Texas Tech credit too,” Baylor coach Scott Drew told the media after the game.
He specifically pointed to Keenan Evans, a sophomore guard and 33.3 percent 3-point shooter on the year. Evans scored 21 points and shot 3-for-5 from the 3-point line for Texas Tech on Saturday.
Unfortunately, this is not a new occurrence. Baylor ranks last in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal defense, allowing 35.8 percent from the line. Six Big 12 teams do not even average 35.8 percent on the year, including Texas Tech (32.1).
The problems are not contained to just the defensive end. Baylor shot 44.8 percent from the field. It turned the ball over 16 times, which led to 24 points off of turnovers for Texas Tech. Only two players shot above 50 percent from the field.
Taurean Prince scored 17 efficient points and Johnathan Motley added 10 in garbage time, but the rest of the team shot just 34.1 percent from the field. Rico Gathers shot 2-for-7 with three turnovers in 28 minutes, though Drew emphasized he was still recovering from illness.
Texas Tech had a nice offensive day with four players in double-figures. The aforementioned Evans scored a game-high 21 points. Justin Gray and Zach Smith combined for 33 points on a combined 13-for-17 from the field. Aaron Ross rounded things out with 14 points.
At the end of the game, the Bears seemed to lose their composure. Gathers was ejected after a flagrant two was called. Drew and Ish Wainright were both called for technical fouls. The already sparse crowd headed home early.
Again, it must be put in context – Baylor sits in prime position to make the NCAA tournament and has the talent to still contend for the Big 12. But at this point, it is becoming harder to imagine being a real factor.
After this loss, Baylor is now 3-3 in its last six games. Even its wins over Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Georgia have been less than impressive. Things don’t get easier: ranked matchups against Iowa State and Texas appear in the next week.
It will be extremely telling which Baylor squad comes out against a good Iowa State squad at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The Bears have seen some success against the Cyclones the last two seasons. They need it to continue.