After Baylor blasts Texas, Courtney Ramey says, ‘All 13 players can say we played soft today’
So much for the Kansas win. Beard: ‘We’re a team that hasn’t proven that we can handle some success.”
WACO — Most members of the national championship team have moved on, but this new-look Baylor team sure looked ready to whip Gonzaga again on Saturday. Or anyone else standing in the way.
Unfortunately for some, that happened to be No. 20 Texas.
Wanting to send a clear message, the Bears simply tore through the Longhorns 80-63 at the Ferrell Center. This had everything: in-your-face defense, you-can’t-stop-this offensive flow, “UT sucks” chants from the sellout crowd and plenty of Horns Down. As Baylor victories go, this was Sic, for sure.
Texas (18-7, 7-5 Big 12) was surging after Monday’s win over Kansas. But five days later, the Horns came out and played “soft,” players and coach Chris Beard said.
“They came ready to play. We didn’t. We let the Kansas game be our championship,” Texas guard Courtney Ramey said. “We talked about it ever since that game. We needed this game just to stay in the race. They wanted it more. It just showed tonight. I think all 13 players can say we played soft today and they didn't.”
This was so convincing, Baylor fans in the crowd of 10,284 didn’t put much effort into their “S-E-C!” taunts late in the game. There was no point, really.
Beard sent all five Texas starters to the postgame press conference to face reporters’ questions. Normally, Beard sends one, although after Kansas, Texas made two players available.
“I think we were aware of the rah-rah behind the Kansas game,” forward Timmy Allen said, “but we weren’t ready for the fight that Baylor was going to bring to us.”
Said forward Brock Cunningham: “You’ve got to play well to beat a team like Baylor, and we had players, including myself, that didn’t show up.”
Beard was poised during the autopsy, but it was clear he was fuming. “I think from where I stand, we’re a team that hasn’t proven that we can handle some success,” the coach said.
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Beard took responsibility for not having the team ready. Told that Ramey said the Horns played soft, Beard said, “I’m glad to hear that some of our players, especially our veteran players, hold that same accountability.”
The 10th-ranked Bears (21-4, 9-3) sure had a heck of a week. They got embarrassed at Kansas on Feb. 5, losing 83-59. But Scott Drew’s club came out Wednesday and swamped Kansas State by 15 and then ran over Texas by 17 — the Horns’ biggest loss of the season.
Baylor once lost 24 straight to Texas, mostly during the 2000s. That streak was snapped at the 2009 Big 12 Tournament. Since that game, Baylor is 20-8 against the state’s flagship university. The Horns have lost five straight in Waco.
It should be noted that Drew is 8-3 against Beard, with all but one of those games happening when Beard coached Texas Tech.
“I used to hate this, but my dad and older coaches always said, ‘Hopefully you make shots,’” Drew said. “I know they had some good looks they probably normally make, and that affected some of what they did. Credit our guys for doing a good job on the glass.”
Baylor made plenty of shots with all degrees of difficulty. Start with guard Adam Flagler, who made 8 of 11 shots and finished with a game-high 20 points. He made a 15-footer and a heat-check 3-pointer that helped Baylor take a 27-15 lead.
“It’s really another game,” Flagler said. “I know there’s a rivalry, I guess. But at the end of the day, they’re a Big 12 team, and every Big 12 we want to beat.”
James Akinjo and Kendall Brown combined to hit 9 of 22 shots as both finished in double figures, Akinjo with 15 and Brown with 10. Flo Thamba had 12 points and 11 rebounds while Westlake product Matthew Mayer add 10 points for good measure.
Baylor even suffered a massive emotional loss and still buried Texas. Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua suffered a gruesome-looking knee injury with 11 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first half and had to be helped off the floor. Beard was the first person off the sideline to help as a quiet arena heard Tchamwa Tchatchoua screaming from the floor.
As a result, four Baylor players played at least three-quarters of the game, including Thamba, who logged a career-high 30 minutes. “When he looked like he wanted to come out, we just didn’t look at him,” Drew said. The Bears were already without their leading scorer, LJ Cryer, who is out with a foot injury.
The fact that Baylor still won in short-handed fashion seemed to get under Beard’s skin, too.
“Baylor basically beat us with seven players,” Beard said. “We tried 12 or 13 to find a spark, and their seven beat our 12.”
Fair or not, one play defined the whole day. Dylan Disu had a chance to go up for a dunk early in the first half as Baylor led 14-8. His body was in perfect position, cocked and locked. But instead, Disu tried a fadeaway from point-blank range that missed. That was one of three Texas fadeaways in the first half. All three missed.
“You know, I didn’t see Baylor shooting a lot of fadeaway shots,” Beard said. “I saw them going right through us.”
Andrew Jones (11 points) was the only Texas player in double figures as the Horns shot a season-low 32.8% overall and went 6-for-16 from 3-point range. Baylor shot 50%, had a plus-10 edge on the glass and held a double-digit lead the entire second half.
So much for all the good vibes generated by the Kansas win.
“We talked about it. It’s not like we’re unaware of the situation. It’s happened before to us, a couple times this season,” Texas guard Marcus Carr said. “We got to find a way to make the next step.”
The next step will come Tuesday on the road against Oklahoma, a team that nearly won at Kansas on Saturday. Nothing like a Red River Rivalry rematch to capture one’s focus.
“At the end of the day, we’ve all got to look each other in the eyes and just bounce back,” Ramey said. “We say it a lot, but it’s time for our team to take the next step and just be who we are.”