Baylor senior forward Taurean Prince was a difference-maker Thursday in a rubber match with Texas during the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals at the Sprint Center.
Prince nearly outscored the cold-shooting Longhorns in the opening minutes. His and-one with 11:10 remaining in the first half gave him eight points during the Bears’ 19-9 run to open the game.
Prince, who was selected to The Star’s All-Big 12 team, finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds in fifth-seeded Baylor’s 75-61 victory against fourth-seeded Texas. The Bears will face No. 1 Kansas in the Big 12 semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday.
“(Prince) is one of those guys offensively that is a tough matchup for people,” Bears coach Scott Drew said. “When he is defending and rebounding, our team goes to another level, and he was really active tonight.”
The Longhorns, 20-12, started the game 5 of 23 from the field and 4 of 10 at the free-throw line in digging an early double-digit hole from which it wouldn’t recover.
“We took it upon ourselves to come out with a lot of energy, focus on taking away the threes and making sure they felt our pressure,” Prince said.
Texas finished 5 of 16 from three-point range and 10 of 19 from the free-throw line, blunting any comeback effort.
Baylor, 22-10, which was 20 of 23 at the line, led by at least eight points throughout the second half.
“They were the more aggressive team for the majority of the game,” first-year Longhorns coach Shaka Smart said. “That’s what allowed them to win. It was really disappointing for our team because we felt like we had a great opportunity to advance, but here we are.”
Freshman guard Jake Lindsey’s three-pointer at the halftime buzzer provided Baylor a 38-27 lead at intermission.
The Bears’ lead peaked at 59-40 on a dunk by sophomore forward Johnathan Motley midway through the second half.
Baylor senior forward Rico Gathers Sr. added 13 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore guard Al Freeman added 12 points and junior guard Ish Wainright, a former star at Raytown South, grabbed eight boards.
“We still have to get better and it’s on to the next one,” Wainright said.
Senior forward Connor Lammert led Texas with 15 points, while senior center Cameron Ridley had two points in two minutes in his first action since suffering a broken foot in December.
“At halftime, (Ridley) was feeling a little bit of pain, so that was that,” Smart said.