Despite losing both of its games last week by a combined 40 points, No. 24 Texas managed to hold on to an AP Top 25 ranking this week.
The Longhorns (20-7, 9-5 Big 12), who have as many losses as any team ranked in the top 25, will have their hands full yet again Wednesday night as a streaking Baylor team comes to the Frank Erwin Center.
The Bears (18-9, 6-8 Big 12) fell victim to the Big 12’s incredible depth in January, losing six of their first seven conference games. But February has been a different story — Baylor has won five of its seven contests this month and rolls into Austin on a four-game win streak.
Texas was one of many teams who took advantage of Baylor’s struggles last month, thrashing the Bears in Waco, 74–60. The contest proved to be a breakout game for freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor. The youngster had a career-high 27 points, most of which came via his signature floater.
Baylor’s zone defense struggled mightily throughout the game, leaving many open mid-range opportunities for the Longhorns. Baylor is the only team in the Big 12 that can match up against Texas’ size inside, so head coach Rick Barnes will need his guards to continue to be active in the middle of that zone in order for the offense to be effective.
For the Longhorns, the season’s last four games have become increasingly important. Once the clear-cut runner-up in the conference, Texas has fallen to third in the standings and has the potential to tumble even further. With just four games separating the second- and ninth-place teams in the Big 12, Texas could find itself closer to the league’s cellar than its ceiling if the losses continue to mount.