Baylor gets Gathers back, turns Texas rematch into a highlight reel

Johnathan Motley hit his first 11 field goals in a huge performance to lead Baylor. (Twitter/Baylor Basketball)

Baylor showed why it has been the Big 12’s best road team over the last three years, improving to 13-12 in conference play away from home with a 78-64 win against Texas in Austin.

The Bears needed the win to split the season series with Texas after the season’s worst shooting performance (35.2 percent from the field) resulted in a Longhorns win on Feb. 1. Given a tough remaining schedule that includes Kansas (Feb. 23), Oklahoma (March 1) and West Virginia (March 5), the importance of Saturday’s win seems to resonate even more. Baylor might be too far back in the standings to catch the Jayhawks for a regular season title, but it can improve its chances for a good showing in both postseason tournaments with quality wins.

When it’s clicking, Baylor can be incredibly fun to watch on offense. Strong offensive rebounding leads to easy buckets, which forces opponents to press a little against the zone and usually helps create more easy buckets for this athletic Bears team in transition. You knew what kind of day it was going to be for Texas inside when big man Johnathan Motley started 11 for 11 from the field, including this mean slam dunk early in the second half.

Motley nearly finished with perfect shooting numbers for the game but finished 12-for-13 with 24 points and missed his only free throw attempt.

Motley wasn’t the only one putting up numbers and demanding highlights. Rico Gathers was back in the lineup after missing time (though he did not start) and Taurean Prince (17 points) did a great job attacking the basket and playing through contact.

These are two tournament teams that could meet again for a more competitive game in the Big 12 tournament than either of the regular season meetings. Texas would love to have followed up its Tuesday night win against West Virginia with another victory against a ranked opponent, but a brief drop in performance isn’t a reason to panic about the Longhorns.

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