No. 9 Baylor overcomes 14-point deficit, George’s injury to down No. 8 Texas 81-72

Feb 25, 2023; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears forward Jalen Bridges (11) controls the ball as Texas Longhorns forward Dillon Mitchell (23) defends during the first half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Baylor overcomes 14-point deficit, George’s injury to down No. 8 Texas 81-72

No. 9 Baylor 81, No. 8 Texas 72

The ninth-ranked Baylor Bears overcame adversity in multiple forms en route to a 81-72 home win versus No. 8 Texas on Saturday in Waco. Baylor (21-8, 10-6 Big 12) trailed by as many as 14 in the first half, and lost star freshman guard Keyonte George to an apparent ankle injury less than nine minutes into the game. The Bears used a 25-5 run late in the first half to forge ahead, and extended their lead to as many as 18 in the second half before cruising to the finish line. The win salvaged a split for Baylor in the season series after Texas’ 76-71 win in Austin on Jan. 30. 

Jalen Bridges scored 17 points and picked up eight rebounds to pace Baylor, while Dylan Disu made 10 of 15 shots to lead the Longhorns with 24 points. Baylor guards Adam Flagler, Langston Love, and Dale Bonner all finished in double figures to make up for the loss of Keyonte George, while center Flo Thamba had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Baylor’s biggest advantage came on the glass, as the Bears out-rebounded Texas 38-26.

The loss is costly for Texas (22-7, 11-5 Big 12) in the Big 12 standings. The Longhorns entered the day tied with No. 3 Kansas atop the Big 12 at 11-4, but needed a favor from West Virginia Saturday afternoon to remain in that position as the calendar turns to March. 

Baylor entered Saturday afternoon’s top-10 showdown 13-2 at home this season, but was reeling after back-to-back losses on the road in the state of Kansas, both by double digits. Texas, winners of two straight at home, came into the sold out Ferrell Center looking for their first road win since Feb. 4 at Kansas State. 

Tensions ran high pregame, as both Texas’ men’s basketball team and Baylor’s women’s basketball team thought it was their turn to practice on the court at around 11 a.m. CT. A heated exchange ensued, foreshadowing for what would quickly become a tense battle between the Longhorns and Baylor’s men’s team. 

Jalen Bridges led the way for Baylor in the opening minutes, scoring the Bears’ first two baskets as the teams traded scores. Senior forward Dylan Disu scored eight of the Longhorns’ first ten points, including a pair of 3-pointers that propelled Texas to a 10-4 lead at the game’s first media timeout. 

The Longhorns’ defense smothered Baylor early on, holding the Bears to just Jalen Bridges’ four points through the first eight minutes. Baylor went more than six minutes of game time without making a shot while turning the basketball over five times before the 12-minute mark of the first half. Texas rode its defense to a 14-0 run, extending its lead to 18-4. 

The first-half disaster for Baylor would only get worse when star freshman guard Keyonte George hobbled off the floor with 11:34 to go, nursing an apparent ankle injury as fans in Waco held their collective breath. George, who also entered Saturday’s game reportedly feeling under the weather, would not return.  

With George in the locker room, Baylor settled down quickly. After Flo Thamba’s first points on a layup with just under seven minutes to go, Baylor trimmed its deficit to just five. One minute later, Adam Flagler’s first 3-pointer and two free throws by Flo Thamba tied the game at 23 and capped off a 12-0 Baylor run. During the timeout that followed, each side was issued a technical foul as the chippiness continued. 

Baylor’s 12-0 run became an 18-0 run after the timeout, giving Scott Drew’s team a 29-23 lead. Texas went more than eight minutes without scoring during the frustrating stretch, eventually halted by a pair of Dylan Disu buckets to end the half. 

After lengthy scoring droughts for both offenses, Baylor jogged into the locker room with a 29-27 advantage. Jalen Bridges’ 9 points led the way for Baylor, while Texas’ Dylan Disu scored 14 in a red-hot first half. Texas forced 12 Baylor turnovers in the first half, but the Bears held a 22-13 rebounding advantage at the break. 

Both Baylor’s momentum and the tensions between the two teams carried over into the early moments of the second half. Dylan Disu was called for a flagrant foul as Baylor’s Flo Thamba hit the floor after an aggressive box out, and the Bears’ extended their lead to 41-33 with 16:20 to go. 

When Dale Bonner drilled a 3-pointer with 14 minutes to go, Baylor earned its first double-digit lead of the day at 50-40. Bonner would score seven more points in the three minutes that followed, giving him 10 second half points and putting the Bears ahead 60-43 with 10:32 to play. 

Tyrese Hunter knocked down his third 3-pointer of the afternoon with seven minutes left, helping the Longhorns trim the deficit back to 12. Still, Baylor re-extended its lead to 17 at the 4:25 mark with a pair of free throws that essentially put the game away. 

Texas did narrow the gap to as few as seven on Marcus Carr’s 3-pointer with 31.1 seconds to play, but never truly threatened in the final moments. Rodney Terry’s Longhorns continued to commit intentional fouls even with eight seconds left and a nine-point deficit, but it was an exercise in futility as Baylor came out on top, 81-72. 

Baylor next travels to Oklahoma State Monday night, while Texas heads to Fort Worth for a battle with TCU on Wednesday.

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