USA Today Sports

Rick Barnes thought his team was on the right track as it throttled West Virginia on Thursday. But one night later, a 17-point loss to Baylor had him confounded.

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four observations from Baylor’s 86-69 upset of third-seeded Texas in Friday’s semifinals of the Big 12 tournament:

Four for four?
Baylor (24-10) is aiming to become the first team to win four games in four days at the Big 12 tournament. That supposedly puts a strain on a team, but their legs seemed plenty bouncy against Texas (23-10).

“We felt fresh tonight, and I know we’ll feel fresh tomorrow, too,” vowed guard Brady Heslip.

Baylor reached the 2012 final only to lose to MIssouri in the championship game. Heslip was a freshman on that squad.

“The first time it was an amazing experience,” he said. “But now it’s the second time, and we’re not just here for the experience, we’re here to perform.”

Was this the same Texas?
On Thursday night the Longhorns held West Virginia to 49 points total. On Friday night they allowed Baylor to pile up 42 and 44 in each half.

Coach Rick Barnes was confounded, “especially when you go from a great defensive effort to just being a shell of that team defensively.”

Heslip, after averaging less than four points in his last four games against Texas, scored 24 points on 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point land.

“Brady hadn’t hurt us in a long time,” Barnes said. “Just being late (to close out on Hesip), I think it was a direct result because we were letting our offense dictate how we were playing on the defensive end.

“I think it bothered us. You can’t let that happen.”

Texas, which trailed by 15 at halftime, shot only 39 percent for the game. Jonathan Holmes and Javan Felix, who were 13-of-20 in torching WVU, made 4-of-16 against Baylor.

Jefferson moving on up
Playing like a hungry senior, Cory Jefferson produced 20 points and 13 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double. Something certainly has clicked for him since a 66-64 loss to West Virginia on Jan. 28 when he spent the game on the bench and scored just six points.

That defeat came in the midst of 2-7 league start that threatened to sabotage Baylor’s season. Now the Bears have won nine of 10 to turn things around.

“We stayed together as a team,” Jefferson said. “We didn’t put the blame on anybody when we went through that tough streak. We stuck through it and fought through it and this is where we’ve come.”

Building blocks
Isaiah Austin swatted away seven more shots, giving him 144 this season.That’s tops by a large margin in the league and fourth nationally.

Which begs the question: What Big 12 coach(es) didn’t vote him to the All-Defensive team?

Said Heslip of his 7-foot teammate: “Isaiah in the middle has just been a anchor—just ridiculous—erasing every guard that gets in there when we happen to let them drive.”

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  • TruthTeller

    Payback!!!! Congratulations Texas!!!! LOL!!!