What most people will remember from Texas beating Baylor 61-59 will be the bench clearing brawl that resulted in seven ejections. But the most important thing was the Longhorns getting an important victory over a ranked rival as they try to put themselves in a position to be in the NCAA tournament.
The game reached overtime after a 54-54 tie at the end of regulation. In overtime, all hell broke loose. Isaiah Taylor of Texas and Royce O’Neale of Baylor got tangled up on the floor fighting for a loose ball. Elbows and shoves seem to be exchanged and very quickly, both team’s benches were on the floor trying to get in on the action. The result? Seven players ejected; four from Texas, three from Baylor, although both Taylor and O’Neale remained on the floor.
O’Neale hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 59-59, but on the next possession it was Taylor, finishing with 7 points, that scored the winning shot for the Longhorns, improving to 7-10 in the Big 12 this season despite talks of being conference title contenders before everything began.
Baylor still had one more shot at trying to send this game into a second overtime, but Kenny Chery missed from very close range.
Baylor, ranked #14 in the nation, had the luxury of being able to afford the loss. This hasn’t been a great season (10-7 in the Big 12) but they’re going to be in the NCAA tournament for a third time in four years. Texas are trying to make it in for a second straight season, hoping to finally get past the second round of the tournament, something they haven’t been able to do since 2008, during Kevin Durant’s one-and-done season.
Texas have one remaining game in the Big 12 this season against Kansas State, another bubble team in a slightly better position (8-9 in the Big 12) to get in. Needless to say it’s a must win game for the Longhorns, who can’t count on winning the conference tournament as their only option. They’ve never won the conference tournament in the Big 12, and haven’t been tournament champions since the SWC days back in 1995.