Quincy Acy

Kentucky’s Anthony Davis (23) and Terrence Jones (3) fight Baylor’s Quincy Acy for a rebound during Baylor’s loss in the Elite 8.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Two Big 12 teams faced top-level basketball programs in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament this weekend. Second-seed Kansas and third-seed Baylor entered as technical underdogs in their match ups — though Kansas was given the slight edge by Las Vegas due to injuries on the Tar heel squad — and both teams put up a fight, but the results were mixed.

Baylor falls to star-studded Kentucky

Baylor senior Quincy Acy vowed to stand up to the tournament-seasoned Wildcats when the two teams clashed in the Elite 8. But there is a reason Kentucky has 15 Final Four appearances, and Acy and his Bears learned that the hard way Sunday.

The top seeded Kentucky advanced to the Final Four for the second year in a row on the heels of an easy 82-70 victory over third-seeded Baylor. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 19 points and Anthony Davis added 18 points and 11 rebounds. Forward Terrence Jones added to the mix with numbers in every line of the stat box, including 12 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three blocks.

Though Baylor jumped out to an early 10-5 lead, with Acy helping lead the charge emotionally, Kentucky outscored the Bears 42-22 in the first half. Acy led Baylor with 22 points and eight boards, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the powerhouse program with a roster full of future
NBA players.

“[Kentucky] a great team,” Acy said. “They’ve got some good dudes down there.”

With as storied a program as Kentucky’s, a mere Final Four appearance isn’t enough to satisfy the championship hungry Wildcats. They will take on in-state rival Louisville in the semifinals on Saturday.

“I’m not satisfied yet,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. And he probably won’t be unless the Wildcats get to cut down the championship nets and hoist
a trophy.

Taylor, Jayhawks down injury-plagued Tar heels

Tyshawn Taylor continued his magical senior campaign with one of the biggest performances in school history.

His 22 points, six rebounds and five steals helped pace the Jayhawks past the North Carolina Tar heels, 80-67. Kansas will head back to the Final Four, its first trip to the semifinals since 2007-2008 when the Jayhawks won it all. Kansas coach Bill Self was only 1-3 in the Elite 8 until this victory.

Kansas won this one in the second half by buckling down on defense. Entering the second period tied at 47, the Jayhawks limited North Carolina to only 20 points, forcing the Tar heels to take outside jump shots that they just couldn’t get to fall.

North Carolina was without Kendall Marshall, who injured his wrist early in the tournament. Marshall’s absence was missed as he was averaging nearly 15 points on 58 percent shooting over his last six games.

Taylor and the Jayhawks will take on Ohio State in the Final Four on Saturday in a battle of second seeded teams.

Printed on Monday, March 26, 2012 as: Kansas moves on, Baylor falls in Elite 8

Clint Chapman dives for a loose ball during the Longhorns’ 77-72 loss to Baylor Monday night. The senior forward contributed six points but did not score in the game’s final 13 minutes. Texas was outscored 36-24 during that span as Baylor erased its 10-point halftime lead.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns didn’t have an answer for Quincy Acy down the stretch as No. 14 Baylor rallied to end UT’s hopes for an upset.

Acy scored eight points in the final 4:45 to help Baylor overcome an 11-point second half deficit and beat Texas, 77-72, on Monday night at the Frank Erwin Center.

The Longhorns (17-11, 7-8 Big 12) lost another close game and missed out on their best chance to get their first signature win of the season. Texas fell to 1-8 in games decided by six points or less.

Texas had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds but J’Covan Brown made an errant pass and turned the ball over with UT down, 73-70, with 14 seconds left. It was just the latest heartbreak for the Longhorns, who have struggled to make plays late in games all season.

“I take the blame,” Brown said. “I turned it over. We lost the game. It hurts. I feel like every night I keep letting these guys down. I’m trying. I guess I’m not figuring it out right now.”

Baylor’s Pierre Jackson was fouled after Texas’ 11th turnover and made two free throws to seal the win. Jackson converted six from the line in the final minute to stave off the Longhorns. The point guard finished with 25 points and six assists.

Texas led 36-26 at the half. The Longhorns shot 50 percent from the field (13-of-26) and held Baylor to 28 percent shooting (7-of-25) and forced nine turnovers. But the Longhorns did not come out with the same defensive intensity after the break and allowed the Bears to shoot 50 percent in the second (15-of-30).

Brown led Texas with 18 points made six 3-pointers. Sheldon McClellan added 13 off the bench to reach double-figures for the sixth straight game.

Texas surrendered its lead with 7:04 to play on a jump shot from Perry Jones III that made it 56-55. From there, the Bears slowly pulled away as Acy took over down low.

The senior forward finished with 22 points and pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end.

“I know that has to be my calling card for this team, setting the tone in the paint and being a tough force down low to grab rebounds,” Acy said. “I found myself in good position and never stopped working.”

Acy hauled in his final rebound after with 1:00 left and was fouled with Baylor ahead, 70-67. He made one free throw to put the game out of reach.

“He just outplayed us,” said Texas senior forward Clint Chapman.

Baylor didn’t close out Saturday’s game against Kansas State and lost at home, 57-56, but the Bears reversed their fortunes on Monday. Baylor improved to 8-2 in games decided by five points or less. The Bears won for second time in their last five games and moved to 10-5 in the Big 12.

“It was a big win,” said Bears guard Brady Heslip, who finished with 12 points. “We knew we had to come in and make a statement. We came in with a chip on our shoulder.”

The Longhorns fell to 0-7 against ranked opponents. In the last five games against ranked teams, Texas has been outscored by just 18 points.

“We just have to finish the job,” said freshman point guard Myck Kabongo. “You can say we’re close, but we have to win. We just have to learn how to finish, that’s all.”

Junior guard J’Covan Brown takes a shot against Baylor Monday. Brown, the Big 12’s top scorer, scored 18 points but committed a crucial turnover in the final minute.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Just when Texas looked like it had grown up, it played the final ten minutes of the second half like the same team that was 1-7 in games decided by six points or less coming into Monday.

The Longhorns spent the early part of the night keeping the Frank Erwin Center on its toes by building a lead and maintaining it by making plays at the rim and hitting open jumpers. They played within their offense and ratcheted up on defense. Alexis Wangmene even looked poised to make up for a horrible single-rebound, four-foul game against Oklahoma State Saturday. Yes, Texas finally looked like it was a bit wiser, a bit stronger and a bit more demanding of each other as a team. That unraveled painfully in the second half when Baylor’s Quincy Acy began toying with Texas’ defense like the future NBA player he is, making the Longhorns’ age show.

“Acy is just a beast,” Baylor’s Perry Jones III said. “He is a leader.”

Acy dumped 22 points on the Longhorns, Wangmene fouled out, J’Covan Brown turned the ball over in the final seconds, and Texas’ bigs were embarrassed on the glass. Add it all together and Texas is now 1-8 in games decided by six points or less and that statistic is more of a scarring characteristic of this team than a numerical trend. It is a mark of the team’s youth, and it is what separated Texas from Baylor Monday night. Though Texas head coach Rick Barnes has refused to make it an excuse, Acy was perceptive enough to exploit Texas’ age.

“They are a very young team, but I saw a lot of fight in them,” Acy said.

The Longhorns played inspired defense in the first half, holding the Bears to a paltry 7-of-25 from the field, good for 28 percent. They led 36-26 at the halfway mark and the Longhorns were coasting at a cool 50 percent shooting on the floor.

“We got too comfortable at that point,” Clint Chapman said.

They went 12-of-26 from the field the rest of the way, and the team’s mentality broke down.

“Their offense had some easy looks at shots, and we weren’t getting any easy looks,” Brown said. “We weren’t getting them as a unit.”

Baylor, led by Acy and guard Pierre Jackson scraped together points that only teams wise enough to know where to find them can. Acy got rebound after rebound inside the paint, including eight offensive boards of 16 total, and was able to convert easy finishes at the rim. Jackson patiently waited for the ball to make its way to him on offense as he floated the floor, as he connected on three of six treys and ended up with 25 points.

“We had a tough home loss against K-State and we really wanted to dig deep and not give up,” Acy said. Just because we’ve lost a few games doesn’t mean the season is over.”

It’s a combination of that lesson of resilience that has been lost on Rick Barnes’ squad, and an even more difficult concept of “listening rather than hearing” down the stretch in close games that has him frustrated.

“We have had trouble listening. We come out of timeouts and don’t execute,” Barnes said. “We start the game and we don’t understand the situations.”

Barnes was noticeably frustrated as he entered the post-game press conference and was finally forced to admit something he has avoided all season: inexperience is still plaguing his team and he isn’t happy about it.

“It shouldn’t be a factor at this point in the season, but it is,” he said.

Texas will need to grow up quick, or be prepared for an invite to the kiddie-pool that is the National Invitation Tournament.