No. 4 Baylor tops Texas Tech

With a backcourt trio like Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell, sometimes it’s hard for Devonte Bandoo to get a word or a shot in to save him. 

Thankfully, he got a big one in Monday night to save the fourth-ranked Baylor Bears. 

On a “Senior Night” to remember, the senior guard hit a game-tying 3-pointer from NBA range to help get the game to overtime as the Bears (26-3, 15-2) pulled out a 71-68 win over Texas Tech before a Ferrell Center crowd of 8,953. 

“I was told not to shoot it,” said Bandoo, who scored a game-high 18 points, hitting 4-of-5 from outside the arc, “but there was a lot of space. I was like, ‘All right, you’re going to sag off me this much, I’m going to let it fly,’ and the ball went in. When I let it go, I knew it was going in. It was a big shot.”

Playing shorthanded, with Mark Vital and Tristan Clark both sidelined with injuries, Baylor had plenty of chances to throw in the towel or wave the white flag. But, the Bears somehow found a way to gut out the win and sweep the season series with Tech (18-12, 9-8). 

“You want to send the seniors out the right way,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team remained in contention for a Big 12 title. “You want to win this game almost more than any other home game so that they have a great memory to come back to.”

This one will be a hard one to forget for Bandoo and fellow senior Freddie Gillespie, who hit a pair of free throws with 3:28 left that gave the Bears the lead for good, 64-62, playing the last 9 ½ minutes with four fouls. 

“If he had fouled out, it would have been the wrong play,” Drew said, “but you trust your seniors. You want them to have a chance to win on their Senior Night.”

In a back-and-forth game that featured 14 ties and 12 lead changes, Tech went up 60-57 when Davide Moretti penetrated and dished to the corner for a go-ahead 3-pointer by Kevin McCullar with 1:56 left. 

That lead lasted all of 16 seconds, though, when Bandoo answered with a trey over Moretti from the right wing. Nothing but net. 

“He’s so quiet, it’s like, ‘Oh, we’ve got that guy on our team, too. Wow!”’ said Butler, who had 17 points and six rebounds. “But, that’s the great part. From the scout, people aren’t talking about him. Texas Tech didn’t talk about him, and that’s what they get for not talking about him.”

Tech coach Chris Beard, whose team has lost three in a row, said “it’s not me that forgets about Bandoo.”

“They have four guards that are special and are interchangeable,” Beard said. “All four have won games for this team this year. . . . All four are competitive players that don’t take plays off on defense. Interchangeable guards that play on both ends is one of the big parts of Baylor’s identity this year.”

With the Red Raiders turning it over three times in the last 90 seconds, Baylor had plenty of chances to win it in regulation. But, Bandoo was short on a jumper in the lane and threw away a pass.

The Bears got the ball back with 6.1 seconds left after a shot clock violation, but Mitchell slipped as he was trying to drive to the bucket and was called for traveling. 

“Davion, 94 feet, it’s really hard to keep him in front of you,” Drew said. “He’s as fast as there is, end line to end line. It’s unfortunate he lost his footing. Otherwise, he would have gotten a shot up. It’s almost impossible to keep him from getting a shot up.”

In the overtime period, the Bears never trailed. After matching baskets by Mitchell and TJ Holyfield, Gillespie hit the free throws that gave Baylor the lead it would never relinquish. 

With the Bears clinging to a one-point lead, Teague knocked down a clutch 3-pointer at the end of a shot clock that stretched it to a two-possession game, 69-65. 

“That was crazy,” Butler said of Teague’s shot from the top of the key. “I was like, ‘Whew!’ He saved the day like Superman. He’s a big time shot-maker. He just came up clutch in certain situations, and it took a team to win, for sure.”

The Red Raiders had a shot to regain the lead after Kyler Edwards drained a 3-pointer and Gillespie missed a short-range shot. But, Jared Butler picked off a lob pass by Chris Clarke and hit a pair of free throws with 11.6 seconds left. 

Smothered by Mitchell’s defense out front, Moretti threw up a wild, off-balanced 3-pointer that didn’t come close to the target. 

“The great thing about Davion is that he really moves his feet and keeps his hands off of you,” Drew said. “Normally, to stay in front of guys like that, you’ve got to touch them a little. And he doesn’t do it. He can play with four fouls because he does a great job of guarding great players and not fouling.”

The win keeps the Bears in the hunt for their first Big 12 championship, needing a win in Saturday’s 12 p.m. CST regular-season finale at West Virginia (19-10, 7-9), plus a loss by Kansas (26-3, 15-1) against either TCU at home on Wednesday or Tech in Lubbock on Saturday. 

“These games right here are what makes a national champion,” Butler said. “We had to battle, went into overtime, shots aren’t falling. Sometimes, we just need to focus on the games we’re playing and executing now so that we can execute later.”

Teague added 14 points for the Bears, while McCullar and Jahmi’us Ramsey had 13 points apiece and Moretti 11 for Tech. Gillespie struggled, hitting just 1-of-7 from the floor, but finished with four points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.