Freshman Baker’s 20 points helps lead Texas over TCU
Baker was a top-50 recruit but had struggled to crack the Texas lineup, and had scored a total of 16 points all season. Pressed into the game because of a season-ending back injury to junior forward Jericho Sims, Baker scored 15 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers.
“Sometimes for freshmen it doesn’t always happen right away,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “When he didn’t have some early success, there was maybe some people who questioned what he could do. He deserves a lot of credit. We knew a game like tonight was coming at some point.”
Texas led 57-53 when Andrew Jones made a 3-pointer with one minute left, giving the Longhorns a critical cushion to put the game away. Jones finished with 21 points as the Longhorns (15-11, 5-8) swept the regular season from the Horned Frogs (14-12, 5-8).
TCU scored just seven points over the final nine minutes and missed all 10 of its 3-pointers in the second half. Desmond Bane scored 13 points for the Horned Frogs, but .was scoreless after halftime.
Baker had not played more than 16 minutes in a game all season, then played 26 against TCU and was 8-of-12 shooting. His previous season high scoring was three points and he came in shooting 1-of-25 on 3-pointers. He made all three attempts from long range in the first half.
“It was frustrating when I was missing those shots,” said Baker, who came to post-game interviews with ice on both knees. “The coaches just told me to stay ready.”
TCU: The Horned Frogs have been bad on the road and couldn’t turn that around after a good shooting start turned dismal. After shooting 63 percent in the first half, the Horned Frogs shot 24 percent in the second. After making 15 3-pointers in a win over Kansas State, TCU was 3-of-18 shooting from long range against Texas. TCU is just 2-8 away from home this season.
“We’ve had a number of these games that just get away from us and we don’t respond at the end,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “We don’t get it done on the road.”
Texas: The Longhorns will need Baker to be more than a one-game wonder in a lineup depleted with injury. Besides Sims, Texas also played without starting point guard Matt Coleman III, who was averaging a team-high 12.5 points. Coleman was on crutches before the game while nursing a bruised heel and his return hasn’t been set.
“I’m not done yet,” Baker said. “This is only motivating for me. I’m not satisfied at all.”
Jones had to leave the game briefly in the second half when he took an accidental hand to the face on a rebound from teammate Brock Cunningham. Jones stayed down on the court for a couple of minutes but came back to make the big 3-pointer. He followed that with two free throws with 30 seconds left despite a swollen left eye.
“I could see the basket just fine,” Jones said.
TCU hosts No. 17 West Virginia on Saturday.
Texas plays at Kansas State on Saturday.
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