Missouri’s Ricardo Ratliffe went for 27 points to lead the #5 Missouri Tigers over #3 Baylor. This marks Baylor’s second straight loss after getting off to an impressive 18-0 start to the season.
Baylor’s inability to avoid turnovers was their downfall as they handed the ball back to the Tigers 19 times. Often these turnovers were converted into high percentage layups or dunks in transition. Overall these two teams looked evenly matched as the score and national rankings would indicate and the difference was Baylor’s sloppy play.
The turning point in the game came midway through the 2nd half where Missouri went on an 11-2 run to stretch 60-58 lead into a 72 to 60 lead. Even with this deficit Baylor actually almost pulled off the win with a late 4th quarter rally behind some clutch 3-point shooting.
Probably the most concerning part of this loss is Baylor’s inability to rebound against an undersized Tiger team. If Baylor can’t defend their boards better than this against a shorter and weaker team it is difficult to see how they will compete with bigger stronger competition.
Baylor often uses their transition game to find open looks for 3-point attempts. They delivered on these looks against the Tigers going 43% beyond the arc, but as many teams that live by the 3 learn, this type of offense can be a two-edged sword. Against Missouri the 3 didn’t fail Baylor, but their inability to create offensive flow outside of transitional buckets did.
As the NCAA season marches toward the Big Dance, it is usually the team that can create half-court set offense that finds themselves in the Final Four. Either way, no one will go to the Final Four with 19 turnovers a game, so Baylor better hold on to that rock.