The Baylor Bears and Iowa State Cyclones meet in Kansas City to determine the Big 12 champion. What…
Bears Overwhelm Longhorns
The Longhorns could do seemingly no right in the Big 12 semifinal matchup with the Bears, trudging into halftime own 42-27 after shooting just 33.3 percent and allowing Baylor to make 7-of-11 three-pointers. But it was more than just a bad shooting half: while Texas dominated Baylor on the offensive glass, pulling down 13 offensive boards to the Bears' defensive rebounds, Texas was even on the other end, grabbing nine defensive rebounds to Baylor's nine offensive boards. That poor performance on the defensive glass negated the work the Longhorns did on the boards on the other end. Nearly half of Texas's first-half points came on second-chance opportunities (13), while Baylor also had 13. And while Texas struggled to create, and make, shots, the Bears had no such issues. "(I'm) disappointed that we go from playing one of our best defensive games to tonight not doing it," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "You've really got to give Baylor a lot of credit in the fact that they executed offensively. And then on our offensive end, we didn't really do the things we needed to do." The Baylor lead only continued to swell in the second half, with Brady Heslip hitting three after three — he scored 15 of his game-high 24 after the halftime break — and the Bears going up 24 with 6:32 left. Texas did make a 21-9 run to cut the lead to 12, but there wasn't enough time left at that point, and the Longhorns never seriously challenged. Cory Jefferson was Baylor's first-half superstar, and finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots. Isaiah Austin had 10 points, five rebounds and seven blocks. Kenny Chery joined him in double-figures with 10, while Royce O'Neale scored eight and grabbed 10 boards, including five offensive rebounds. As a team, the Bears averaged an astounding 1.37 Points Per Possession, thanks in part to making 12-of-24 threes and grabbing 18 offensive rebounds to Texas's 19 defensive boards. "We knew they came in hot," said Texas guard Isaiah Taylor. "We just wanted to come in and compete today, but unfortunately we didn't. We didn't do as much as we could. They were hitting shots early, and we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds and that's what really hurt us." "I mean, there were some good things, there really were," Barnes said. "But you're always disappointed, especially when you go from a great defensive effort to just being a shell of that team defensively." Three of Texas's top four scorers — Kendal Yancy (12), Martez Walker (10) and Connor Lammert (9) — came off the bench. "Tonight, the bench responded," Barnes said. "The starters didn't respond the way they needed to." Taylor scored 16 points, though he did so on 18 shots. He also had seven assists to just one turnover. As the No. 7 seed, Baylor (24-10, 9-9 Big 12) will move on to play No. 4 Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship game. If the Bears could win, it would make them the first team to rattle off four wins in four nights to win the league's tournament. Texas (23-10, 11-7) will head home to watch Selection Sunday and find out the team's place in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. "You known what I just told those guys is that you got one more time to feel this way," Barnes said. "We need everybody — right now, we need to be playing our best basketball. I thought we were heading that way last night."
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