It was a battle of two Top 15 teams on Friday when the No. 9 Baylor Bears faced off against the No. 13 Texas Longhorns. Baylor came out victorious in the Big 12 showdown, 75-63, thanks to NaLyssa Smith's 25-point, eight-rebound performance. While the margin of victory was slim, the Lady Bears were in control the entire game; they won every individual quarter except for the second — which was a tie, led by as many as 15 points, and never trailed.
That doesn't mean the game was a one-sided affair. The Longhorns competed and kept themselves in the game the entire way. Led by the trio of Audrey Warren, Rori Harmon, and Joanne Allen-Taylor, they were able to combat the Baylor bigs with fast, hard-to-defend guard play. Off of the bench, Aliyah Matharu had an incredible shooting night, going 4-of-6 from distance with 17 points in her 18 minutes of play. Texas outrebounded Baylor 34-30 and shot better from three (62.5 percent to 33.3 percent).
So why did Baylor win?
In short, Baylor could do what they do well better than Texas could. Baylor is a big aggressive team that likes to play inside through NaLyssa Smith and it did just that on Friday. The Bears may have lost the 3-point shooting contest, but they won the overall field goal battle 49 percent to 37.3 percent. Baylor was able to control the game's tempo, shoot high-percentage shots near the basket and run its offense smoothly, sharing the basketball and registering a total of 19 team assists. Baylor was just a bit too good for Texas to overcome.
This was the 12th win in a row for Baylor against Texas, which is impressive given how good both teams have been over the years and how often they play. Friday's game was crucial for the Big 12 standings. The victory for Baylor (16-5, 6-3 Big 12) means it is now third in the conference and one game ahead of Texas. Meanwhile, Texas (15-5 overall) is now 5-4 in the conference and in the middle of the pack.
If you enjoyed watching this game, missed this game, or wanted more of this game, I have great news: the teams square off again on Sunday. Baylor has been dominant in this matchup, but you have to think Texas has the edge in the rematch. It's hard to beat the same team twice in a row.
For the Longhorns, their goal will be to make things difficult for Smith and try to get her out of the paint. Baylor will want to continue dominating the paint, bring down their turnovers and control the pace of play.
We'll see if Baylor makes it thirteen in a row against Texas on Sunday or if Texas can get its first victory in the series since Feb. 6, 2017. That's right; if Texas wins on Sunday, it'll be on the exact same day they last beat Baylor five years ago.