It has been nearly a decade since Baylor beat Texas, but that’s not very daunting for a Baylor team that’s ending a lot of droughts lately.
After moving into the Top 25 for the first time in 39 years with their best start since 1945-46, the 25th-ranked Bears look to snap their 20-game losing streak against the No. 10 Longhorns as the Big 12 rivals meet in Austin on Saturday.
On Jan. 21, Baylor (16-3, 4-1) moved into the rankings for the first time since the 1968-69 season. With their best start since they opened 24-2 in 1945-46, the Bears appear to be on the verge of their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1988.
Baylor will try to end another drought as it goes for its first win against Texas (16-4, 3-2) since Feb. 21, 1998. The Bears have lost 20 straight in the series—by an average of 15.2 points—and are 75-150 all-time against the Longhorns.
The Bears couldn’t snap their losing streak against Oklahoma on Saturday, when they fell 77-71 for their 27th straight loss in the series and their first conference defeat of the season.
Baylor trailed by as many as 16 in the second half, but took a 71-70 lead with 1:57 remaining before being held scoreless the rest of the way.
“From a coaching standpoint I was very pleased because of those last 12 minutes,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team has led in the second half of each of its three losses. “We had a lot of reasons we could’ve laid down and died, and I think it showed the heart and the fight of these guys just to come back and make a run like that.”
Drew is partly responsible for that heart, having helped the team develop from a perennial Big 12 doormat to the third-place team in the conference—one game ahead of Texas.
“Each and every game, he has so much energy that he makes you just want to go out and play that much harder for him,” said Curtis Jerrells, the leading scorer (14.4) on a team with five players averaging double figures.
The Longhorns had only two players in double figures in one of their worst offensive performances of the season on Wednesday. They shot a season-low 34.4 percent from the field and missed 10 of their 21 free throws in an 80-63 loss to No. 23 Texas A&M.
D.J. Augustin tied for the team lead with 14 points, but he was just 6-for-18 from the field, including 2-for-9 from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, the Texas allowed Texas A&M to shoot 56.3 percent from the field — a season high for a Longhorns opponent.
“There was no point in time that I think we guarded them,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes, whose team is 5-4 since its 11-0 start. “We didn’t deserve to win that one in any shape, form or fashion.”
The Longhorns look to bounce back against the Bears, whom they defeated three times last season, including once in the Big 12 tournament. Texas guard A.J. Abrams averaged 16.7 points and made 10 of his 22 3-point attempts in those games.
Jerrells, an Austin native, averaged 17.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists for Baylor.