The Baylor Bears traveled up to Ames, Iowa with one goal in mind, to get a big road win and get back on the right track. The Bears simply did not play well enough to make those goals happen, as they fell to the Cyclones 79-71 in a game that was back and forth until about 8 minutes to go in the game. Baylor failed to score a field goal for 5 minutes and 40 seconds.
The Bears missed 4 consecutive shots saw a two point deficit turn into a 7 point deficit. With just 2:39 left in the game, and the Bears down by 5, the Bears defense simply could not get the stops needed to get back in the game. Iowa State made 8 of 10 free throws to keep their lead safe and get the big win at home.
Before that 8 minute mark, neither team held more than a 5 point lead, with the lead going back and forth from the Bears to the Cyclones. The star for the Bears was Pierre Jackson, who played excellently offensive, scoring 23 points, dishing out 6 assists with only 3 turnovers. The Baylor offense simply didn't have enough scoring options outside of Jackson, with A.J. Walton being the only other Bear player in double figures.
Cory Jefferson scored 8 points on 4-8 shooting, but was limited to just 18 minutes primarily due to his struggles defensively and foul trouble in the first half. He was matched up with Will Clyburn at times, who absolutely destroyed the Bears. Clyburn was in attack mode all game, going to the line 12 times and hitting 11 of those attempts. The Cyclones as a team made 25 of 30 free throw attempts and with the Bears making only 11 of 17 attempts, which proved to be the big difference in the game.
With the Bears shooting 42.9% from the field, it was a better shooting performance than against Oklahoma, but shot-making was still an issue, especially late in the game. Isaiah Austin struggled in this game with the small and quicker Iowa State players. Baylor was outscored by 15 points whenever Austin was on the floor, a staggering amount for the second best player on the Bears.
The Bears had their chances, especially in the first half. Iowa State came out shooting very poorly from behind the 3-point arc, missing their first 10 shots. However, the Bears still trailed by 1 point at halftime, primarily due to the aggressiveness of the Cyclones attacking the rim. They went to the free throw line 12 times in the first half, and outscored the Bears by 8 points. They also did a great job on the glass, out-rebounding the Bears by 4.
This game was lost in the paint, a supposed strength for the Bears entering the game. I thought this game would look a lot like the Oklahoma game, with the Cyclones attacking the mid-range level of the defense, but they really took a few steps inside and went right after Austin, who was pushed around by Georges Niang for 17 points. Niang stepped up with Melvin Ejim in foul trouble and limited to only 14 minutes of action.
With one more tough road game up next for the Bears, they have to start playing better on the inside, especially defensively. They have to impose their will on the inside, as they simply do not have enough consistency in their jump shot right now. Baylor has to go to another place that they have not won at very much in Stillwater. Can the Bears get back that winning edge and do it against a non-bottom 3 Big 12 team, seeing as just one of their wins have not come against the TCU / Texas Tech / Texas trio that reside in the bottom of the Big 12 standings. Can the Bears show a dominant effort and game plan against one of the middle of the pack teams? They better sooner than later, or they will be on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAA tournament.