To beat Baylor, it might be a good idea to spend at least a little time playing with the lead.
In three Big 12 Tournament games, the Bears have trailed for a grand total of 81 seconds, all against Texas on Friday at the Sprint Center.
And the Longhorns came no closer to beating the red-hot Bears than Oklahoma and TCU before them.
Baylor will attempt to become the first team in the event’s 18 years to capture the championship by winning four games in four days after its 86-69 triumph over the Longhorns.
The Big 12 title game against Iowa State tips off at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Friday’s game went the way of the others, with the exception of three brief Texas leads in the first five minutes.
No matter. Baylor quickly put the hammer down.
Cory Jefferson did the early damage, scoring Baylor’s first nine points. He had 16 of his 20 by the break as Baylor led by 15. It also marked the third time the Bears led by double digits at halftime.
Second halves have been about maintaining intensity, and Baylor was better here than in the previous two nights. The Bears’ advantage kept going. When Kenny Chery beat the buzzer with a corner three at the eight-minute mark, the lead had swelled to 65-43.
And Brady Heslip never stopped making threes, knocking down six for most of his 24 points.
Texas, not a good shooting team, couldn’t solve Baylor’s zone. Scoring leader Jonathan Holmes didn’t scratch in the first half as the Longhorns shot 33 percent.
The NCAA Tournament awaits both teams, but Baylor has a chance to win its first Big 12 Tournament.
The Bears twice have reached the championship game, in 2009 and 2012, losing to Missouri both times.
Baylor’s 2009 team was trying to win four in four days. So was Missouri in 1997 and 2003 and Oklahoma State in 1999. All lost in the title game.
But it has occurred elsewhere, and the 2011 Connecticut team serves as the inspiration. The Huskies, led by guard Kemba Walker, captured the Big East Tournament by winning five games in five days. They went on to win the NCAA Tournament.
Baylor and Iowa State split their regular-season games decisively on their home floors. The Cyclones won 87-72 in January, and the Bears returned the favor 74-61 in March.