With the Bears down 74-72 and just a couple of seconds left on the clock, Pierre Jackson managed to get a decent look at a three point shot at the buzzer which, if he had made it, would have kept Baylor’s hopes of a longshot at-large bid alive.
But he missed.
So Baylor’s season will end with a trip to the NIT.
Except it’s just not that simple.
Thursday night was a perfect example of the frustrating conundrum that is this Baylor basketball team. The Bears dug themselves a 20 point hole in the first half. They looked, frankly, pathetic. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that opted to turn my attention elsewhere, until Pierre Jackson led a furious second half rally that resulted in Gary Franklin tying the game at 72 with 19.1 seconds left on a four-point play. It was a reminder: “Hey, we may not be headed to the NCAA tournament, but you see all this talent? It wasn’t a fluke we beat Kansas by 23.”
On the ensuing possession, however, Phil Forte drove and was “fouled” — it was as phantom of a foul as you’ll see — hitting both free throws to set up Jackson’s near-miss at the buzzer.
Baylor has as much talent on their roster as any team in the country. Jackson as dangerous as any playmaker with the ball in his hands. Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin comprise one of the nation’s biggest and most athletic frontlines, and that’s before you factor in Rico Gathers. With Brady Heslip and AJ Walton spreading the floor, there really is no reason that the Bears should be headed to the NIT.
Except for the fact that they just couldn’t muster the kind of effort that they needed on a consistent basis.
They lost to Charleston and Northwestern this season. They lost eight of their last 11 regular season games. And they closed out the regular season with a 23 point win over Kansas.
They dug themselves a 20 point hole in the Big 12 tournament and came within a phantom foul and a missed three of advancing.
It makes you wonder: how good would they be if they played well all the time?
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.