WACO — Texas mounted yet another furious second-half comeback against the Baylor Bears, but came up short against the size and length of the Bears.
Baylor’s Perry Jones III scored 22 and Quincy Miller added 18 in a heated 76-71 victory over the Bear’s oldest basketball rival, Texas.
The Longhorns overcame another slow start in the first half to rally back against the No. 6 Bears, who jumped out to a 38-29 lead at the end of the first period. Texas guard J’Covan Brown scored a game high 32 points and dished out five assists in the loss, but given opportunities down the stretch, he and his teammates failed to convert chances into points. The Longhorns are now 0-6 in games decided by six points or less.
Freshman guard Myck Kabongo, who ended with 11 points and five assists, wants to see his team play a full 40 minutes in order to pull out these close battles.
“We just need to play with a sense of urgency from the start of the game,” Kabongo said. “We are usually behind at the start of the game, because we just don’t play with that urgency.”
Texas head coach Rick Barnes expressed the need for consistency from his players.
“I thought we played with confidence, but we’ve lost some games to some good teams,” Barnes said. “And we want to win these games, but the fact is that in some situations you aren’t going to win it until guys understand [the importance of] everyday practice.”
Part of what Barnes has preached in practice all year is the need to be in the right positions for grabbing rebounds. Texas has been one of the better rebounding teams in the conference over the last five games, but was clearly outmatched against the Bears. They only grabbed 24 rebounds to Baylor’s 37.
Jones was the Bear’s focal point offensively and on the glass. He had a double-double in the first half — 12 points, 10 rebounds — and finished with a career-high 14 rebounds. The Longhorns had a hard time guarding the forward who towered over the smaller Texas squad. Jones was fed an alley-oop in the first quarter.
“Perry’s a lot more aggressive,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “He is healthy and able to practice hard. He is back to being what he’s been.”
Although they were outmatched, Texas had chances to pull this victory out.
“Any time you have a rivalry game, it’s not over until it’s over,” Drew said.
With less than a minute to play, the Longhorns were only down 73-68. In that time, the Bears turned the ball over twice and committed potentially costly fouls. However, Texas went 3-6 from the stripe in the last minute, and couldn’t convert on layups to the hole. Down by three points with seven seconds left, Brown shot a contested 3-pointer that sailed left and ended his team’s chance.
The shot was a rare miss on the day that Brown broke out of a shooting slump. He was 11 of 22 from the field, and carried his streaky teammates on offense yet again. Brown is averaging 19 points a game, tops in the conference. Saturday marked the third time he has scored 30 or more points in his career.