WACO — Texas pulled off yet another upset Saturday, knocking off No. 24 Baylor (13 – 6, 1 -5 Big 12), 74–60 at the Ferrell Center in Waco.
Led by freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor’s career-high 27 points, the Longhorns (16-4, 5-2 Big 12) won three consecutive games against AP Top-25 teams for the first time in program history.
“It’s a pretty big accomplishment,” junior forward Jonathan Holmes said. “But our mindset all year has been to not be content with how we are doing. We really haven’t done anything yet. We are trying to win a Big 12 Championship. We haven’t done that.”
Taylor had the best game of his young career. Baylor head coach Scott Drew tried to slow down the speedy youngster with different combinations of man and zone defense, but nothing worked.
Whether he was getting to the rim in transition or hitting his signature floater in the lane, Taylor found ways to score. When Baylor was in man defense, he used his quick feet to beat his man to the rim. Against the zone, he found the gaps on the perimeter and got off a floater before the posts could get to him.
“A lot of teams are kind of focusing on [Holmes and sophomore guard Javan Felix] so it’s opening lanes up for me,” Taylor said. “I really struggled with the zone early in the season. In practice, I have just been harping on the zone and penetrating gaps and that’s what I did today.”
Holmes and sophomore center Cameron Ridley — who have both played well in conference games — continued to make their presence felt inside against the Bears. Holmes, who has been Texas’ most consistent player all season, had 14 points and eight rebounds. Ridley had eight points and 14 rebounds to go with a couple of blocks. Ridley was aggressive on the offensive end, pulling down four offensive rebounds in the game.
“We knew they were a pretty tough team down low,” Holmes said. “They have some big guys down there, and they are a good rebounding team. We just wanted to establish ourselves on the boards and show them we are tough, too.”
After winning a mere 16 games all of last season, this year’s Longhorns have already reached that mark. It is just the seventh time during head coach Rick Barnes’ tenure that Texas has won at least 16 of its first 20 contests. When asked about the difference between this years team and last’s, the head coach didn’t hesitate.
“The bottom line is the players,” Barnes said. “These guys have done it all year. They made a commitment as soon as the season was over with and those guys, they have been unbelievable. The young guys, you have to give them a lot of credit too because they came in with no sense of entitlement.”