The last unbeaten team in college basketball lost its first game of the season on Tuesday, as No. 1 Baylor dropped a 65-62 thriller against No. 19 Texas Tech at home. The loss ended the nation’s longest winning streak at 21 games. Baylor’s loss came just hours after No. 5 USC also dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 75-69 loss to Stanford.
Texas Tech’s defense made life hard on Baylor’s prolific offense all night as the Red Raiders (12-3, 2-1 Big 12) notched their second straight victory against a top-10 opponent following their 75-67 win over then-No. 6 Kansas on Saturday. The back-to-back victories are particularly impressive for TTU because they have come without leading scorer Terrence Shannon Jr., who is dealing with a back injury that his kept him out since a Dec. 14. win over Arkansas State.
The Red Raiders did get Kevin McCullar back on Tuesday after he missed two games with an ankle injury, and the junior guard hit a huge 3-pointer with 2:39 that gave Texas Tech a 59-52 edge, its largest lead of the game. Baylor (15-1, 3-1) closed the gap to a single possession on a couple more occasions and had a chance to tie while down 65-62 in the final 20 seconds, but James Akinjo missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer as time expired
This marks the earliest loss for college basketball’s last undefeated teams since 2017-18, when unbeaten Arizona State, TCU and Villanova all lost on Dec. 30. Gonzaga remained undefeated until losing to Baylor in last season’s national title game on April 5. In the 2019-20 season, San Diego State started 26-0 and didn’t lose until Feb. 22. Virginia and Michigan were both unbeaten until Jan. 19 of the 2018-19 season.
Here are some takeaways from Baylor’s upset loss to Texas Tech on Tuesday night.
Texas Tech turned 14 Baylor turnovers into 19 points, outscoring the Bears by eight in points off turnovers and using a familiar formula for success. Former head coach Chris Beard left this offseason for Texas after five seasons of fielding stingy defenses for the Red Raiders. His replacement, Mark Adams, was the associate head coach during Beard’s tenure and regarded as the architect of those defenses. By promoting Adams from within, Texas Tech retained the identity of Beard’s old squads and kept its roster exodus from becoming unmanageable amid Beard’s departure.
What the team lacks in offensive flare, it makes up for with defensive tenacity. Texas Tech entered Tuesday’s game ranked 12th nationally in points allowed per game at just 58.3, and it turned in another masterpiece against a quality foe. Baylor ranks No. 5 in offensive efficiency, per KenPom, and entered 12th nationally in points per game at 82.8. But its Tuesday scoring output was its second-lowest of the season.
One of Texas Tech’s other statistical strengths is offensive rebounding, and the Red Raiders thrived on the glass yet again. After outscoring Kansas 15-5 in second-chance points on Saturday, they bested Baylor 12-6 in second-chance points for the game and 10-2 in the second half.
Texas Tech entered averaging 12.7 offensive rebounds per game and only pulled down seven in this game. But they succeeded in turning them into crucial points in the second half while putting their toughness on display. A 36-22 edge in paint points also showcased TTU’s edge in physicality. Offensive balance was also on display for the Red Raiders on Tuesday as they had five players reach double figures.
Big 12 mayhem
If Saturday’s series of upsets in the Big 12 hadn’t already made it quite obvious, Texas Tech’s win over Baylor removes all doubt that the conference is going to be a slugfest. With nine of the conference’s top 10 teams in the top 60 of the NET, it appears anyone can beat anyone on a given night.
While Baylor and Kansas will retain favorite status in the league by default due to recent and historical precedents, the Red Raiders already own victories over both and are going to be a nightmare for opponents over the next two months. Oklahoma State is ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, and it appears that TCU and Kansas State have uphill climbs to make the Big Dance. But the league’s other seven schools each made Jerry Palm’s latest Bracketology and will spend the rest of the regular season sharpening themselves against each other.