J’Covan Brown’s three-game shooting slump was in his rearview mirror and, with a game-high 32 points, had a chance to force overtime with seven seconds remaining at No. 6 Baylor Saturday. However, his three-point attempt was off the mark, as the Bears withstood a furious Longhorn rally to escape with a 76-71 win.
Saturday’s outcome was the same song, different verse for a young Texas team that rallied from 12 down to forge a 66-66 tie with less than four minutes remaining. The Horns have, in the past ten days, played three Top 25 teams down to the wire only to see another chance for a signature win slip through their hands. The next opportunity comes when Missouri visits Austin on Monday.
For now, its couple of plays here and a couple of plays there have cost Texas, according to head coach Rick Barnes. His team did a better job at driving the gaps and knocking Baylor out of its sets, but committed senseless fouls and struggled with poor shot selection.
Texas fell to 13-8, 3-5 in Big 12 play.
Brown scored 20 of his 32 points in the second half. He knocked down 50 percent of his shots after shooting just 25 percent in three previous outings.
The game was also one of Myck Kabongo’s best efforts. The freshman point guard was saddled with early trouble, but finished with five assists and 12 points, including some clutch shots down the stretch to keep Texas in it. There were signs Kabongo could become Texas’ scoring option other than Brown. Yet, Kabongo’s 4-of-8 showing at the charity stripe was costly.
Texas has done well at the free throw line this year relatively to Barnes’ recent teams, but its 16-of-26 (61.5 percent) showing was a significant part of its undoing Saturday. Baylor pulled away in the final minutes by hitting its foul shots, finishing 27-of-34 (79.4 percent) on the day. The Bears also dominated the glass, 37-24.
Texas was 24-of-60 (40 percent) from the field, including 7-of-24 from outside the arc.
Clint Chapman was whistled with his second personal just three minutes into the ballgame. The Bears controlled the offensive glass, but Texas dictated the pace in the early going, pushing the ball down court and forcing an up-tempo flow. Alexis Wagmene’s jumper capped an 11-2 Texas run for a 17-13 Longhorn lead.
Baylor responded with a 12-2 run. Texas continued to settle for long-range jump shots, and single-attempt possessions, against the Baylor zone. The Horns missed six straight shots to trail 29-21 before Brown’s double-clutch move in the point resulted in a three-point play.
The Horns missed 18 shots in the first 20 minutes, including 11-of-12 three-point attempts, and had no second-chance points to take a nine-point deficit into the halftime locker room.
Texas turned the ball over on its first possession of the final frame leading to BU’s first double-digit lead. But Brown found his touch from long-range, draining back-to-back treys to pull Texas within 42-36. Quincy Acy’s 15-footer pushed the BU lead back to 10 as BU threatened to blow this one open.
If anything, these young Horns are resilient. Julian Lewis’ fast-break layup on the dish from Kabongo was part of an 8-0 spurt to trim the deficit, 52-48. Kabongo picked up is fourth personal just inside the 10-minute mark, but he drained a trey to pull Texas within three. Brown’s three-ball capped a 14-2 run, knotting the affair at 54-apiece with 8:48 left.
The Bears built a 61-56 lead at the charity stripe. Kabongo’s three pulled Texas to within 64-63 with 4:09 on the game clock. Brown’s three-ball meant we were tied again at 66-66, but Baylor’s Pierre Jackson answered with a trey of his own. The Bears would not trail the rest of the game.
Tip-off against Missouri is set for 8 p.m. (CST) Monday.