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No. 6 Baylor 66, Texas 55: Sent home from Kansas City early, Longhorns look ahead to NCAAs

Texas guard Celeste Taylor is fouled by Baylor's DiJonai Carrington during the Longhorns' 66-55 loss in a Big 12 Tournament semifinal Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.

Bounced from one postseason tournament, Texas must now start preparing for another. 

The Longhorns' run at the Big 12 Tournament ended with a 66-55 loss to No. 6 Baylor in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday. With the win, Baylor shifts its attention to the Big 12's championship game Sunday. With the loss, Texas shifts its attention to Monday's selection show for the NCAA Tournament.

ESPN analyst Charlie Creme recently predicted that UT (18-9) would be a seventh seed. In his postgame press conference Saturday, Texas coach Vic Schaefer argued that the Longhorns had possibly played their way into a sixth seed.

"We're just ready and getting focused for what's next," junior guard Joanne Allen-Taylor said. "Just to lock in to whatever the game plan is going to be for whatever team we get next."

After losing 60-35 and 64-57 to Baylor earlier this season, UT mixed up its starting lineup for the rematch's rematch. Lauren Ebo, a 6-foot-4 center, was given her first start of the season. That change gave Texas two tall talents in Ebo and the 6-5 Charli Collier to combat the presence in the paint of Baylor's NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo.

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Baylor center Queen Egbo blocks a shot by Texas guard Audrey Warren in the first half Saturday.

Nine seconds into the action at Municipal Auditorium, Collier was called for a foul on Smith. She was then whistled for an offensive foul a couple of minutes later. With 7:30 left in the first quarter, Collier was pulled for the rest of  the first half.

Baylor (24-2) quickly seized on Collier's absence and built 18-8 and 20-10 leads. Led by the shooting of Allen-Taylor and Celeste Taylor, Texas responded and eventually got within a point. The Longhorns took three shots in the second quarter that would have tied the game or given them the lead.

Baylor, though, ended the half on a 6-2 run. The Lady Bears entered the intermission with a 37-30 advantage.

"We were within seven. Seven is nothing when you have 20 minutes," Taylor said. 

Baylor led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, but Taylor shot Texas back into contention. After her basket made it a 58-53 game with 3:10 left, Baylor used two key offensive rebounds and a 5-0 run to fend off its foe.

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Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith goes behind the back to pass to a teammate as Joanne Allen-Taylor guards her.

Texas gave up 22 offensive rebounds, and Baylor scored 28 second-chance points. The Longhorns were routed 51-29 in the rebounding battle.

"Rebound and defend, rebound and defend will win you a lot of basketball games," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "Then when you can add into the mix give us another shot at it by getting offensive boards, you've got a chance to win a lot of basketball games."

"The rebounding was a really big issue," Allen-Taylor said. "You have to be, I don't want to say perfect against really really good teams, but you have to limit those easy mistakes."

Baylor was led by Smith and Moon Ursin, who combined for 40 points. Egbo scored 10 points, but the junior center's 18 rebounds were her most noticeable contribution.

Taylor had 22 points and led Texas in scoring for the third time this season. Allen-Taylor chipped in 18 points. Ebo grabbed a team-high 11 boards.

In what was probably her last game against Baylor, the WNBA-bound Collier finished with just three points and one rebound. Limited to a season-low 16 minutes because of her four fouls, Collier also committed three turnovers.

Over the past three years, Collier's Texas teams have gone 0-7 against Baylor. The two-time all-conference honoree averaged 4.1 points in those losses.

Of Collier's struggles against Baylor, Schaefer said: "I think it's a combination of things, but really, again, you have to give your opponent credit. They do a good job."

Tip-ins: Baylor will play either West Virginia or Oklahoma State for the Big 12 Tournament title. The Lady Bears are two-time defending champions. ... Ruled out for the entire tournament earlier in the week, Texas junior Audrey Warren (illness) played 29 minutes and grabbed five rebounds. ... Texas recorded seven assists and 12 turnovers. ... Baylor has won 25 of the past 26 games in this series.

Baylor's NaLyssa Smith, left, and Queen Egbo lead their teammates in celebrating another victory over Texas on Saturday. The sixth-ranked Lady Bears have won 25 of the past 26 matchups against the Longhorns.