Texas vs. Baylor score, takeaways: No. 2 Bears improve to 17-0 and take firm control of Big 12 race

Facing its toughest road test of the season against its second-highest ranked opponent, No. 2 Baylor made quick work of No. 6 Texas on Tuesday, cruising to an 83-69 win over the Longhorns. The win keeps Baylor’s record unblemished at 17-0 and further extends its lead on the Big 12 conference race to 3.5 games with only eight regular-season games remaining.

Texas did its best to hang with a near-flawless Baylor team that put together a near-flawless outing, dropping ten 3-pointers and shooting 55% from the floor. But it went just 3-of-14 from the charity stripe and committed 17 turnovers, which led to 20 Baylor points. Hard to beat Baylor with that combination.

Harder still to beat Baylor when it plays the way it did. The team shot 11-of-21 from 3-point range to combat Texas’ hot night from distance, and made 59% of its shots from the floor to boot. Davion Mitchell accounted for 27 points and Jared Butler for 21 as the dynamic duo combined to go 19-of-31 from the floor and 8-of-15 from beyond the arc.

This was Texas’ first game together as a complete unit in weeks — its first practice at full strength in 19 days came Sunday because of COVID-related issues — but it fought hard and played well before succumbing to the Baylor buzzsaw. It even briefly took the lead in the second half when Andrew Jones, who had a team-high 25 points, slammed one home in transition.

Texas’ recent troubles aside, Baylor’s performance — and its dominance throughout the regular season — now makes it a virtual shoo-in to win the Big 12 barring a late-season melt, which would be a first in program history. It is now 3.5 games up on the next closest contenders of Texas, West Virginia and Oklahoma in the league standings with eight games left to play.

Here are a few takeaways from the game.

1. Baylor has a case for No. 1

So get this: The Bears are 17-0, with 15 double-digit wins, a college basketball-best scoring margin, more Quadrant 1 wins than No. 1 Gonzaga and more top-10 wins than Gonzaga. One could argue that Baylor’s resume is actually more deserving of No. 1 than Gonzaga.

Ultimately, this is a conversation to have next week when the AP Top 25 poll drops, provided Baylor wins Saturday at home against TCU. But this is also more of a big-picture thought that has NCAA Tournament seeding ramifications. If Baylor keeps crushing everyone the way it just did to the second-best team in the Big 12, it’ll have a much better case to be the No. 1 overall seed over Gonzaga, despite Gonzaga being ranked No. 1 in the polls the entire season to date.

2. Baylor’s Mitchell is thriving, too

We know what Baylor has in Jared Butler, a bona fide All-American candidate who is having a career year shooting the 3 and initiating offense. But Davion Mitchell is quietly (though not so much so to recent opponents) breaking out. He scored a career-high 31 points against Kansas State last week then followed it up with an even more impressive 27 points and four assists on 11-of-16 shooting against Texas. This is still Butler’s show, but it’s becoming quickly a two-headed monster in Baylor’s backcourt for teams to try and stamp out. 

3. Texas had missed opportunities

When you lose by 14 points, you can’t put your finger on one specific reason for why it happened in most instances. But in this specific game, Texas going 3 of 14 from the free-throw line did feel like the difference. And it’s not a new problem, either. UT is eighth among all Big 12 teams in free-throw shooting percentage on the season. It’s a glaring weakness for a team that has legitimate Final Four potential.