Five thoughts from No. 24 Texas’ loss to No. 25 Baylor

Akshay Mirchandani

No. 24 Texas fell to No. 25 Baylor at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday afternoon, 78-64. Here are five thoughts from the loss.

Baylor’s zone stifles Texas

  • The Longhorns (17-10, 8-6) struggled against Baylor’s (20-7, 9-5) zone-defense, particularly in the first half where Texas had the same number of turnovers as they did made shots. Texas 38.1 percent from the field in the first half and were 2-of-11 from the 3-point line. The Longhorns simply couldn’t get anything going in the paint and settled for tons of outside shots. It spelled disaster, considering how the Bears were playing on offense.

“I think, just me and Javan [Felix] specifically, we got to be more aggressive — especially tonight,” junior guard Isaiah Taylor said. “I think that we were too passive, just waiting for something to happen.”

Texas’ defense, rebounding a catastrophe

  • Texas may have been struggling on the offensive end, but its defense was arguably worse. Baylor shot a staggering 62.7 percent from the field and had 50 points in the paint. Baylor was led by forward Johnathan Motley, who had 24 points and was 12-of-13 from the floor. The Longhorns were outrebounded 15-5 in the first half, but that number improved by the end of the game. Still, Texas couldn’t deal with Baylor’s inside-scoring and presence.

“We didn’t look like we had the ‘want-to’ to do those things at a high level,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “As a coach, the most alarming thing is we’ve got to do something about that.”

Rare home loss

  • What makes this loss worse is that it comes at the Frank Erwin Center, where Texas was 13–1 coming into Saturday. The only loss came on Dec. 29 against UConn 71-66 — the first game Texas had to play without senior center Cameron Ridley. Saturday was the Erwin Center’s second sellout of the season. Getting run off their home court in front of 16,540 people was not what was expected.

Three freshman struggle

  • Texas’ trio of freshmen have each had their moments lately, but struggled against Baylor. Guards Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis, Jr. and guard/forward Tevin Mack combined to go 6-of-17 from the field. Davis led the freshman with 11 points, but a lot of that came when the game was already decided. Against No. 10 West Virginia on Tuesday, Davis sparked a struggling Texas-offense while Roach and Mack hit key late-game free throws. No one was able to provide such a spark on Saturday.

Cleare the lone bright spot

  • Junior forward Shaquille Cleare was Texas’ lone bright spot in what was a miserable day. Cleare led the team with 14 points and five rebounds. He became the only person who could get an easy bucket for Texas, scoring in the post constantly. Texas’ offense became better when they went to Cleare, but he couldn’t solve everything that ailed the Longhorns. But Cleare struggled to replace senior center Prince Ibeh’s defensive effort while Ibeh was in foul trouble.

“They were able to get in the lane, I made some bad plays defensively,” Cleare said. “I just couldn’t get stops.”