Kenny Chery’s five three-pointers and 27 points Wednesday night weren’t enough to hold off the No. 24 ranked Texas Longhorns. Longhorn sharpshooter Javan Felix bested Chery’s performance with seven three-pointers of his own, and Cameron Ridley recorded his seventh double-double of the season, registering 20 points and 10 rebounds. Down big early, Baylor stormed back and cut the game to 70-69 with just over a minute to play. Great defense down the stretch helped Texas close the lid on Baylor’s night and possibly their NCAA Tournament dream.
After going 12-1 in non-conference play, Baylor was ranked as high as seventh in the nation when they started Big 12 Conference play against Iowa State. Baylor dropped that game against the Cyclones, but followed it up with an easy win against TCU a few days later on Jan. 11. Flash-forward one month, and in 31 days Baylor only recorded one other conference win. The Bears hit a recent hot streak in mid-February but failed to extend a four-game win streak Wednesday night in Austin.
Baylor, now 18-10 overall and 6-9 in conference play, finds themselves tied with Oklahoma State for seventh in the Big 12. Although thought of as the best conference in college basketball by many, the Big 12 will likely not receive seven bids to the tournament. Even if it does, the Bears’ resume could still have them on the outside looking in.
An extremely inconsistent team, Baylor’s top scorers Cory Jefferson and Brad Heslip make bad habits of disappearing in the middle of big games. 1-7 against the RPI top 25, the team’s only notable victories are an early season win against Kentucky and a double-overtime win against Kansas State on Feb. 15. Baylor beat Oklahoma State in both meetings, which could bode well for them if the two have similar records come Selection Sunday, but the Bears still have lots of work to do. Unless they can win out and make a decent run in the Big 12 tournament, consider Baylor’s bubble officially burst.