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Shooting From the Corner: Texas 84, Baylor 72

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NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Texas Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports

If you had told me going into the game that Baylor shot 39% from three, grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, and Jaxson Hayes only played 25 minutes due to foul trouble, I would have walked into this game with a knot in my stomach. Thankfully most of these stats proved relatively meaningless as the Texas Longhorns beat the brakes off Baylor for the first half of the game. It was 45-30 at the half and I don’t think Baylor got closer than 8 the rest of the way. Shaka has now broken two streaks this season against Kansas and the Bears, and I’m not sure if there are two schools I enjoy beating more than Kansas and Baylor. It was a good night, y’all.

The Good

Matt Coleman

Buddy, Coleman was in his finest form tonight. 18 points on six shots and 8-9 from the line, six rebounds, and five assists including maybe my second-favorite of the night where he just starts walking back on defense because he knows this shit is over:

That might not have been his best assist of the night; there was a transition opportunity where he hit Jericho Sims with a pocket pass that was just Italian Chef Kissing Fingers emoji. I can’t even begin to explain how much I enjoyed that pocket pass, much less the full-court break where Matt Coleman engaged turbo jets the likes of which Texas hasn’t seen since Isaiah Taylor was on campus. Coleman was a maestro on the court tonight.

AND HIS DEFENSE

Makai Mason scored 40 points last game. He scored 5 tonight, and a decent chunk of that was Coleman getting in his grill. I’ll get into this more in a bit, but man, savor that performance like a fine wine from...Italy? I don’t drink wine, so I’ll just say a fine wine that doesn’t come in a box. Probably. Maybe box wine has advanced in the last 20 years; maybe I’ll go buy some box wine after this is posted. You can’t stop me, this is America.

Kerwin Roach II

Roach was 5-6 from two, 2-3 from three, and totaled 21 very efficient points. For a guy who plays on a bit of a high-wire act in terms of risk/reward, he was definitely on the reward end of the spectrum tonight. Roach played within himself, rarely forcing something that wasn’t there. Snoop passed Isaiah Taylor on the Texas scoring ranks tonight and next up is Lance Blanks. When Lowell Galindo mentioned this on the air, Blanks made sure to write “2 YEARS” on the telestrater. I love petty Lance.

Team Rebounding

There were two ways Baylor was likely to win this game: three-point shooting and offensive rebounding. These are the two areas where Baylor has excelled in their six-game winning streak, which is interesting when you consider how small their lineup is. Baylor has rebounded nearly 38% of their missed shots which is a top-5 mark nationally. Tonight they snagged 10 rebounds, but it was 32% of their missed shots and many of them didn’t come until late in the game. Texas used their superior length to their advantage, neutralizing the Baylor rebounding attack. A number of Baylor possessions in the first half were one-and-done, and it’s a credit to Texas for keeping those extra possessions to a minimum.

Shaka Smart Trae Young-ed Makai Mason

The thing about Baylor’s recent run is that it’s done, well, not on smoke and mirrors but in one of the only methods left to the injury-depleted squad: let Makai Mason cook. Mason has been a ball-dominant point for the Bears, shooting a ton of deep threes and using his offensive production to get his teammates open for their own open looks. Texas basically took the Trae Young defense from last year and applied it to Mason, saying they’ll deal with other players beating them but the ball needs to be out of Mason’s hands. You know what? It worked. Baylor’s offense was so stymied that Mason spent a good chunk of the second half on the bench. Mason scored 40 a game ago, against Texas he scored five and didn’t take a single shot in the second half. Without their primary creator, Baylor had to get really inventive to score at all.

It’s Complicated

They Beat Baylor, but...

Conference wins are never bad, we do not apologize for winning against conference foes and Texas needs every win they can get. Also, any game where Scott Drew goes home angry is a good day for humanity. Having said that, a win at home isn’t quite the same as a win on the road. Texas has been significantly better at home than on the road, and if they’re going to dream of more than a one-game stint in the NCAA tournament they need to do this in Waco, too.

The Bad

Texas Didn’t Put the Hammer Down

This is a minor complaint in the realm of things, as Texas has bigger problems than this. Still, this had the makings of a 20+ point win and Texas basically played Baylor even in the second half. I would have liked to seen Texas add to the separation more than they did. It’s probably fair to note that Texas was up by as much as 18 late in the game and if they had hit more of their free throws in the waning minutes it could easily have ended up as a 20-point win. So maybe I’m reaching here. I’m probably reaching. I blame the box wine.

Texas has regained a .500 record in conference play, and they have an opportunity to add to it. Their next four games are against a disheveled West Virginia in Morgantown followed by two home games against Kansas State and Oklahoma State rounded out by an away game against an Oklahoma team that is reeling. The last three games have shown a level of overall consistency that Texas hasn’t displayed in over a month, and if Texas can continue to show that level of consistency they could string together enough wins to remove themselves from bubble talk entirely. It started tonight and the next step is on Saturday against a West Virginia team who is probably getting the hell beat out of them by Huggins after Texas Tech drubbed the Mountaineers. Tip time is 7 PM CT on ESPN2.

BWG’s writing tunes provided by Mele.