WACO, Texas — The Texas Longhorns kept an historic streak going at the expense of wilting Baylor.
Texas guard Isaiah Taylor pushed the Longhorns past No. 24 Baylor, 74-60, on Saturday at the Ferrell Center and the Longhorns won their third straight game against a ranked opponent.
It is the first time in program history that Texas has defeated three consecutive top-25 opponents. Texas won home games against then-No. 8 Iowa State and No. 22 Kansas State coming into the Baylor game.
After finishing 16-18 last season, Texas is once again looking like a hoops force in basketball.
“I guess I went from being dumb to smart,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “The bottom line is the players. These guys have done it all year.”
Baylor (13-6, 1-5 in the Big 12) lost its fourth straight game. The Bears came into conference play ranked in the top 10, but are in danger of falling out of the top 25 after dropping five of their first six conference games.
“We’re feeling a little bit down,” Baylor guard Gary Franklin said. “But at the end of the day, we’re very optimistic. We just had a team meeting and we figured out this is a team that’s going to keep fighting no matter what.”
Taylor finished with a career-high 27 points, three assists and three steals. He propelled the Longhorns (16-4, 5-2) as they stretched out a comfortable lead after halftime.
Taylor credited the Bears for heaping attention on forward Jonathan Holmes and guard Javan Felix, which allowed Taylor to consistently penetrate Baylor’s zone defense.
“I was really aggressive today and my floater game was working for me,” Taylor said. “They have to respect Jon’s jump shot and also Javan’s and that opened up the lane for me.”
Franklin came off the bench to lead the Bears with 14 points. But the Bears shot 32 percent from the field, made only 21-of-32 free throws and had 13 turnovers.
“When you’re struggling and want to win, I think everybody takes it on themselves to force the action,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “You have five guys out there doing that and nobody is helping each other. We need to share the ball and help our teammates get shots.”
Texas built an 11-point margin early in the second half.
Center Cameron Ridley made a layup on an interior assist from forward Jonathan Holmes. Ridley then rebounded a miss by Baylor center Isaiah Austin and pushed the ball up the floor to Taylor, who completed a three-point play.
The big deficit spelled trouble for a Baylor team that has struggled to find its offensive rhythm during its losing streak.
Baylor forward Cory Jefferson rattled the rim with a dunk, forward Taurean Prince put back a miss and Baylor blocked Longhorn shots on three straight possessions.
But that wasn’t enough to keep the Texas lead under 10 points for long.
Taylor got in the lane for another three-point play as he continued to drive the Longhorns on offense.
“The last several games, it’s been hard to get a bucket but today it was full,” Taylor said.
Guard Javan Felix got in on the act with a jumper that put Texas ahead, 62-47, with 5:55 left.
Texas guard Martez Walker hit the only 3-pointer made by either team in the first half with 18 seconds remaining before the break, giving the Longhorns a 31-27 lead.
The Longhorns led by as many as six points in the first 20 minutes, but couldn’t gain much separation from Baylor, as the Bears made 15-of- 21 free throws.
But Baylor struggled from the field early and shot only 25 percent in the first half, including 0-of-9 from 3-point range.
Prince hit a jumper to cap a 7-2 mini-run, giving Baylor its only lead of the first half, 22-21.
Texas reserve center Prince Ibeh answered with a dunk on an assist from Taylor and Taylor hit two free throws to put the Longhorns back in front.
Taylor had 10 points, two assists and two steals in the first half.
NOTES: Since snapping a 24-game losing streak against Texas in 2009, Baylor had won seven of 10
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