It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.
Davion Mitchell scored 14 points and No. 4 Baylor grabbed 16 offensive rebounds as a team as they went into Lubbock and knocked off No. 22 Texas Tech, 57-52.
The Bears managed to win despite the fact that their two best players and leading scorers, Jared Butler and MaCio Teague, finished with just 12 combined points on 4-for-12 shooting from the floor. The two field goals Butler did make were big, however, as both came during the second half to stem the tide of a Texas Tech run.
The Bears move to 12-1 on the season with the win, with a trip to Lawrence, Kansas, and Phog Allen Fieldhouse in line for Saturday afternoon.
Here are the three things that we can take away from Baylor’s win:
1. BAYLOR CAN BEAT YOU IN SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS
What makes this Baylor team so good is that they really don’t have a weakness. They can beat you in so any different ways, and there isn’t really a mismatch where they can be taken advantage of.
They’re an elite man-to-man defense this season because they have a handful of elite defenders. Mark Vital’s versatility allows them to matchup with teams that go big and small. They’ve been primarily a zone team for the last few years, and they can switch to that at any time without seeing a drop-off in the way they guard or rebound.
Offensively, they have elite shot-makers and guys that can create all over their perimeter — Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell, Devonte’ Bandoo, Matt Mayer — but they are also one of the nation’s elite offensive rebounding teams. And keep in mind, they are still playing with a shell of Tristan Clark, who was their best player for the first half of last season, as he battles through injury issues.
If there is a flaw, it’s that Baylor may not have an NBA player on their roster.
But in a season like this, does that really matter?
2. TEXAS TECH LOST BECAUSE BAYLOR MADE BIG PLAYS IN BIG MOMENTS
The biggest difference between these two teams at the moment is that Baylor has a roster full of veterans that are ready and willing to step up and make a big play in a big moment.
For my money, the story of Tuesday night’s game was simple: Every time that Texas Tech had a chance to build some momentum and get their crowd behind them, they messed something up, be it missing a free throw, or committing a lazy turnover, or falling asleep on a box out and giving up a layup. Every time Baylor had a chance to take advantage of one of those mistakes, they capitalized.
Jared Butler struggled on Tuesday, but he made two shots in the span of 42 seconds with less than four minutes on the clock that pushed Baylor’s lead back to six points. With 7:33 left, Freddie Gillespie tipped in a miss to push the lead to seven. With 9:03 left, Davion Mitchell hit a contested three at the shot clock buzzer to push the lead to eight points.
But for my money, there were two plays that stood out more than anything else were these two:
View this post on Instagram
No. 4 Baylor knocks off No. 22 Texas Tech in Lubbock, and there were two plays (swipe left) that summed it all up for me. The first came after Jahmi’us Ramsey hit a three to cut the lead to 37-34 then fell asleep on a box out. The second came after Davide Moretti missed a front-end that could have cut the lead to 44-42. Winning plays might be a cliche, but Butler made them and Texas Tech didn’t on Tuesday.
The former came immediately after Jahmi’us Ramsey hit a three to cut the lead to 37-34, and the latter came after Davide Moretti had missed the front-end of a one-and-one when he had the chance to cut the lead to 44-42.
Those plays add up.
And despite all of that, Texas Tech was down by just two points in the final minute.
3. THE LACK OF SINCE INSIDE IS GOING TO BE A KILLER FOR TECH IN THE BIG 12
The biggest issue that this iteration of Texas Tech is going to face is the lack of any significant interior presence on their roster. Their starting center is T.J. Holyfield, a 6-foot-8, 225 pound face-up four that played the first three years of his career at Stephen F. Austin. After that, the only other guy in the rotation than can be considered a big is Chris Clarke, and he’s 6-foot-6 and not really a big at all.
That would be a headache in just about any league in the country, but it becomes a nightmare since the Red Raiders play in a league where they are going to be competing with Baylor, Kansas and West Virginia for the league title. Baylor and West Virginia are as big and physical up front as anyone, and Kansas has Udoka Azubuike.
Making matters worse is the fact that neither Holyfield not Clarke are the kind of offensive weapons that will allow Tech to take advantage of the slow-footed fives they’ll have to deal with. Clarke does not look to score. Holyfield probably is not good enough to be starting at this level.
And despite all of that, Texas Tech had a chance to win on Tuesday night against a top five team.