It was a tale of two halves for the Texas Longhorns.
In the first half, Texas could do no wrong. Rick Barnes deployed "Felix Island" to outstanding effect, taking Baylor sharpshooter Brady Heslip out of commission the entire first half. Javan Felix paid multiple visits to splashtown, knocking down five first-half 3's. Isaiah Taylor got his mojo back, controlling the rhythm and flow of the offense. And Cameron Ridley dominated inside.
The second half saw Baylor exploit Texas' three guard lineup, as Royce O'Neale used his 5 to 7-inch height advantage by posting up Texas' third guard on multiple possessions. An ill-advised zone at the 10-minute mark resulted in a couple of Baylor 3's. Jonathan Holmes came alive with a pretty midrange game to keep Texas floating along, but Baylor chipped away and brought an 18 point deficit all the way down to 1.
In the first 20 minutes, Texas hit its shots and was the aggressor on offensive boards. The script flipped in the second half. Baylor's Kenny Chery ended up with a whale of a game, scoring 27 and generally abusing Demarcus Holland. Conversely, Isaiah Austin went 1-10 and had just 7 points and 3 rebounds. It was yet another head-scratcher from the enigmatic big, particularly given his size and skill advantage over Holmes.
Texas may have let its big lead dwindle, but the Longhorns showed resilience in the final minutes. Taylor caught Chery flat-footed and reeling (a little push-off didn't hurt) to float in a clutch layup, then Ridley rose up to block a Chery jumper. I loved Taylor running around the court pushing the ball; he wanted to ice the game at the foul line.
On the night, Texas did a great job attacking Baylor's 2-3 zone. A handful of post entry passes against the zone looked absurdly easy, but crisp perimeter passing gave the Longhorns those bunny opportunities. Taylor again flashed an uncanny ability to probe a defense, and Holmes and Lammert displayed a nice sense of midrange and high post availability.
Big Cam Ridley doubled it up, with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Felix led the way with 21 points. Holmes had 14 points and 8 boards, while Taylor had 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. Most importantly, Texas came away with a much needed victory, keeping them in the hunt for the 2nd seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
Saturday's game in Norman against Oklahoma is a biggie. Hook 'em.