WACO, Texas – Don’t look now, but Baylor is building an NCAA Tournament resume.
The Bears controlled the second half and slugged past No. 8 Texas Tech, 73-62, on Saturday evening at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor trailed 23-10 in the first few minutes of the first half, but then the Bears’ zone defense began to bother the Red Raiders. Texas Tech made just one field goal in the final 11 minutes of the first half as Baylor surged ahead 33-31 at the break.
Guards King McClure, Devonte Bandoo and Jared Butler each hit 3-pointers during Baylor’s 23-6 run that defined the game.
Overall, the Bears nailed 11 of 29 from beyond the arc as they went inside for key baskets throughout the second half. Baylor didn’t shoot a free throw in the first half but made 14 of 16 in the second half.
Butler, who led the Bears with 19 points, found his rhythm in the second half as he scored 14 points to keep Baylor in front.
The Bears, who lost nonconference games against Texas Southern and Stephen F. Austin and suffered a key injury when forward Tristan Clark was lost for the season due to a knee injury last week, has now won back-to-back Big 12 games and improved to 11-6 and 3-2 in conference.
The Bears are a half game behind four teams tied for first place in the Big 12, including Texas Tech, at 4-2.
Jarrett Culver scored 19 points to lead Texas Tech (15-3, 4-2 Big 12). But the Red Raiders couldn’t turn the momentum in the second half and trailed for the entire final 20 minutes.
Texas Tech won 15 of its first 16 games, but struggled on offense as it lost twice this week.
Guard Makai Mason hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points to join Butler in double digits for the Bears.
Baylor went on an 11-2 run in the second half to establish a 13-point lead with 6:13 left.
Texas Tech battled back at that point by scoring 11-straight points, capped by Brandone Francis’s 3-point play to cut the Bears’ lead to two.
But Butler answered with a trey and a 3-point play on back-to-back possessions to drive Baylor’s lead back to 8.
The Red Raiders never got back within 5.