- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

WACO, Texas (AP) - Early this season, the Texas Longhorns were ranked No. 6 in the country and regarded as Final Four material.

Two months later, they are staggering through the Big 12 Conference. The 19th-ranked Longhorns suffered their fifth loss in seven games Saturday, including three straight, with an 83-60 rout by No. 20 Baylor.

Texas coach Rick Barnes said he wasn’t worried about the slide, but then he added, “You are always concerned.”

The Longhorns (14-7, 3-5 in Big 12) are not a strong shooting team. Against Baylor they were awful, hitting 5 of 26 3-points, many of them wide open against a zone defense designed to stop the taller Longhorns from scoring inside.

“That’s not who we are, what we should be doing,” Barnes said. “We need to go inside.”

Forward Jonathan Holmes led Texas with 17 points, but he missed six of seven 3-pointers. Point guard Isaiah Taylor had 16 points and a career-best 10 assists. Cam Ridley 12 points and 11 rebounds for Texas.

And Texas, despite Baylor’s efforts, was good inside the 3-point line, outscoring Baylor in the paint 42-28. Texas shot 50 percent inside the line.

But that wasn’t nearly enough to compensate for the poor 3-point shooting and lapses on defense, where the Longhorns were one of the stronger teams in the country until recently.

Barnes said the Longhorns became worse on defense they missed shots.

“Offensively, when we don’t capitalize, it spills over,” Barnes said.

Point guard Kenny Chery scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half for Baylor (16-5, 4-4) and forward Royce O’Neale added 20 points for the Bears. Rico Gathers grabbed 15 rebounds.

The Bears shot 48 percent, including 54.8 in the second half. Baylor hit 12 of its 22 3-pointers. Chery made 5 of 7.

Guard Lester Medford made seven of Baylor’s 24 assists. O’Neale and Chery had five apiece. The Bears committed only nine turnovers.

“Everyone was sharing the ball,” O’Neale said.

Baylor coach Scott Drew was asked if Baylor had just finished its most complete game of the season. He made no effort at contemplation.

“Yes,” he said quickly. “We were really unselfish. You can’t get more unselfish than 24 assists and only nine turnovers.”

Baylor led 28-24 before closing the half with an 11-3 run. The Bears were incredibly streaky in the half, converting their first eight shots before missing 17 of their next 19.

Freshman forward Johnathan Motley scored 12 points in the half, four fewer than his total in Baylor’s four previous games.

The Longhorns began the game by missing 12 straight shots, falling behind 12-0. The also started slowly during a loss to Iowa State on Monday.

“I’d have to say I’m not doing a good enough job getting the message across,” Barnes said.

Chery began the second half with a 3-point basket for a 15-point lead after Texas missed three shots on one possession. After that, the Longhorns never cut the deficit to fewer than 11 points, which they did on a jump shot by Taylor with 13:29 remaining.

But Chery trumped Taylor’s shot with a 3-point basket, and then Baylor poured it on with a 13-2 run during a span of less than four minutes, increasing its lead from 15 to 24.

Chery made yet another 3-pointer during that stretch. Forward Taurean Prince made a pair of treys and a layup.

Holmes agreed with Barnes that the Longhorns’ missed shots led to defensive lapses.

“When you are not making shots, the urgency on defense should be even higher,” Holmes said. “It starts from defense and you go from there.”


Rico Gathers, Baylor’s junior forward, has 115 offensive rebounds this season, 53 more any other player in the Big 12 Conference. He grabbed six offensive rebounds against Texas. He ranks second in the nation in offensive and overall rebounding.


Baylor: The Bears have won 16 of their last 17 home games going back to the 2013-14 season.

Texas: The Longhorns won 24 straight over Baylor from 1999-2009, but have gone 5-9 since.


Baylor hosts TCU on Wednesday.

Texas hosts Oklahoma State on Wednesday.

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