Ridley leads No. 24 Texas over Baylor 74-69

Texas' Cameron Ridley (55) drives to the basket between Baylor defenders Cory Jefferson (34) and Isaiah Austin (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday,  Feb. 26, 2014, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas' Cameron Ridley (55) drives to the basket between Baylor defenders Cory Jefferson (34) and Isaiah Austin (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN (AP) — Cameron Ridley had 20 points and 10 rebounds and made a big defensive play with a block in the final minute as No. 24 Texas held on to beat Baylor 74-69 on Wednesday night.

Javan Felix scored 21 points on seven 3-pointers for Texas, which led by 18 points in the first half but saw Baylor pull within one late.

Isaiah Taylor scored 13 points for the Longhorns (21-7, 10-5 Big 12), including a twisting left-handed layup that put Texas ahead 72-69. Ridley blocked a layup by Kenny Chery before Taylor made two free throws.

Texas got a much-needed win to restore its confidence after losing three of its previous five games, including two blowout losses on the road.

Chery scored 27 points for Baylor (18-10, 6-9), which saw its four-game winning streak snapped.

A seven-game winning streak early in the Big 12 schedule set the Longhorns on No. 5 Kansas’ heels in the Big 12 title chase until the late-season swoon.

The Longhorns returned home to turn things around but nearly let it slip away as Baylor rallied in the second half.

Felix scored 15 points and Ridley had 13 as the Longhorns shot 51 percent in building a 42-27 halftime lead.

Felix has been a streaky 3-point shooter this season and found his stroke early against the Bears with a quick release catch-and-shoot that didn’t give the defenders a chance to close on his shot. The Longhorns led 16-13 when Felix’s fourth 3-pointer started a 17-3 run that lasted nearly 8 minutes.

Baylor rallied with an 18-7 run to open the second half sparked by a 3-pointer by Chery and two more from Brady Heslip that pulled the Bears within 49-45. Baylor kept firing away over Texas’ zone and kept making shots to keep shaving the lead. The Bears made six 3-pointers in the second half.

Baylor cut the Texas lead to 59-56 before Jonathan Holmes rescued the Longhorns with eight consecutive points, including an acrobatic reverse layup when he snagged a rebound in midair and had to twist his body backward just to get off the shot.

Holmes’ burst put Texas up 67-60 and the Longhorns needed every point of the cushion over the final 4 minutes. Cory Jefferson got the Bears within 70-69 with 1:37 to play before Taylor and Ridley finally sealed it for the Longhorns.

Holmes finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Taylor, who had a breakout game with 27 points against Baylor the first time the teams met this season, spread the ball around this time with seven assists.

The loss could prove to be a tough one for a Baylor team still trying to prove its NCAA tournament credentials. The Bears were ranked as high as No. 7 in early January but had a miserable start to conference play with six losses in the first seven games.

The Bears then won five of their next seven and had a chance to snag its second win over a ranked opponent this month. The loss means the Bears can finish no better than .500 in the Big 12, but that could be good enough for the postseason considering the league is ranked as the toughest in the nation this season.

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