KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Suffice to say, the Longhorns were bleeped off after a disappointing 86-69 loss Friday night at the Big 12 tournament.
The third-seeded Longhorns (23-10) were mostly mad at themselves, as they should have been.
They swept the Bears during the regular season. This time around, they were hesitant against Baylor’s zone defense, passed up some good shot opportunities, got beat on the boards and just had a unshakable malaise.
“That wasn’t us at all,” said center Prince Ibeh, who tweaked his right ankle but said he felt fine afterward. “That’s something we’ve been dealing with in the second half of the season, coming out flat. And we have only one more shot to get that fixed. We know that.”
As a result, coach Rick Barnes’ club is shuffling home to await its NCAA Tournament fate. Instead of possibly going to the San Antonio subregional, San Diego or even Spokane, Wash., sounds nice this time of year. Buffalo or Raleigh, N.C., are also possibilities.
Meanwhile, Baylor advanced to face No. 4 seed Iowa State in the Big 12 final. Iowa State notched a thrilling 94-83 win over No. 1 seed Kansas in Friday’s other semifinal. The Bears would become the first team in league history to win four games in four days.
“Last thing I told them at the end, there’s times where as a coach there really isn’t anything you can do,” Barnes said. “This is a player’s game. It’d be different if they had done something we hadn’t seen. They did exactly what we told them they were going to do. Exactly.
“But we didn’t attack, we stood, didn’t drive.”
To a man, multiple Texas players gave Baylor its due credit. But they know it was their fault for a lack of tenacity and execution, something Barnes has been harping on for weeks.
“We’re definitely disappointed because we know we’re better than what we just showed out there,” Holland said. “That’s really it. That’s the feeling we have right now.”
The seventh-seeded Bears (24-10) used their zone defense to fluster guards Javan Felix, Isaiah Taylor and Holland. Taylor was 8-for-18 shooting while the other two were 2-for-7 combined.
Felix, the team’s high-volume shooter, didn’t even attempt a shot until almost 17 minutes had passed. He took four shots the entire game.
“We’re definitely disappointed because we know we’re better than what we just showed out there,” Felix said. “That’s really it. That’s the feeling we have right now. But now we have another chance to prove it, and it’s our last chance. So we’ve got to make the best of it.”
Makes you wonder if Thursday night’s 66-49 rout of West Virginia was almost too easy. For everyone on the roster, except for junior Jonathan Holmes, it was their postseason victory.
“I think that’s what happens when you have that much success in one game, you forget the reason why you got there,” Ibeh said. “You somewhat feel that it’s going to happen again, and you have to work for it. That’s maturity.”
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