WACO, Texas (AP) — There was a long wait for Baylor players even after coach Scott Drew had finished talking following the 24th-ranked Bears’ fourth straight loss.
“Obviously we’re feeling a little bit down because we lost. But at the end of the day we’re very optimistic,” senior guard Gary Franklin said, explaining the delay was for a players’ meeting. “We talked a lot and we’re going to figure it out. We’re going to keep fighting no matter what.”
Texas freshman Isaiah Taylor scored a career-high 27 points in a 74-60 victory Saturday that gave the Longhorns their fifth straight victory. They have won three consecutive games against ranked teams for the first time in school history.
“I was really feeling it,” Taylor said. “Having their guys have to respect (teammates) opened up the lane for me.”
Baylor (13-6, 1-5 Big 12), coming off a 10-point loss at No. 8 Kansas on Monday night, led only once — for about less than a minute late in the first half. The Bears have their longest losing streak since dropping six in a row five years ago, and they have lost consecutive games at the Ferrell Center after a 13-game home winning streak.
“At the end of day, we like this team, we’re not going to give up, we’re going to keep fighting,” Drew said. “Last year, we were at this time 5-1 (in the Big 12). We thought everything was great and finished 9-9. … We’d rather finish well than start well, so we’ll see what we can do.”
Franklin led the Bears with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, after arriving at the gym at 7 a.m. to work on his shot. No other players made 50 percent for Baylor, which shot 32 percent overall and was only 3 of 17 on 3-pointers (18 percent). The Bears were the Big 12 leaders shooting 40 percent from long range.
Taurean Prince had 12 points for Baylor while Cory Jefferson had eight points and nine rebounds.
The Longhorns (16-4, 5-2) have already matched their victory total from last season. And they could be a ranked team themselves when they play again, next Saturday at home against Big 12-leading Kansas.
Jonathan Holmes had 14 points and eight rebounds for Texas and Cameron Ridley had eight points and 14 rebounds.
When the Bears got within 46-39 midway through the second half, Taylor scored seven points in a span of 76 seconds.
Taylor’s spurt began with a three-point play, when he drove and made a tough short jumper from the side of the rim while being fouled. Taylor penetrated for another short jumper and then after Prince’s slam for Baylor, Taylor scored again to push the lead back to 11 points, 53-42, with 8:47 left.
“They had to worry about it all night,” Holmes said of Taylor’s penetration. “When we would set screens up at the top, he was able to get in the lane and create, either a shot or dish to one of the bigs. He did a real good job penetrating and making the right play.”
It was the 241st meeting against Baylor in the most-played series for both teams whose campuses are located about 100 miles apart along Interstate 35. Texas has a 159-82 series lead, and had won 24 straight until 2009.
Baylor had its only lead on Prince’s jumper with 4½ minutes left in the first half that made it 22-21.
A minute later, Taylor handed the ball to Prince Ibeh, who had a powerful two-handed slam that put the Longhorns ahead to stay. Texas led 31-27 at halftime after Martez Walker finally made the first 3-pointer of the game with 19 seconds left.
The Horns have made 3-pointers in 776 consecutive games, the Big 12’s longest streak ahead of Baylor’s 713. But teams struggled from beyond the arc against each other — each shooting 18 percent. The Horns finished 2 of 11.
Baylor is home against West Virginia on Tuesday night.
“Obviously down,” Drew said of his team’s confidence. “At the same time, I think every day we have a choice and we control our attitude, we control our effort, and I’m hoping people are sleeping in the gym, because at the end of the day, we’ve got a lot of guys shooting poor.”
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