WACO — Cory Jefferson’s first two points of the game couldn’t have come at a better time.
With his team facing a double-digit deficit at home, the former Killeen Kangaroo jumped up to rebound a Taurean Prince miss, grabbed the ball and threw it down for a two-handed jam that got the Bears back on a roll.
Unfortunately for No. 24 Baylor, the momentum was fleeting and the Bears dropped their fourth straight Big 12 game, this one coming to I-35 rival Texas 74-60 on Saturday at the Ferrell Center.
“That’s what’s frustrating as a coach,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said of Jefferson. “What you want from your players is consistency and I thought in the second half he was a monster.”
Jefferson along with former Harker Heights standout Royce O’Neale have been a part of a struggling Bears team that has lost five of its last six overall
since starting the season 12-1.
Jefferson finished with eight points and led the team with nine rebounds and three blocks. O’Neale played only 15 minutes, going 0 for 1 from the floor, 3 of 4 from the free throw line for three points, to go with three rebounds and an assist.
The Baylor frontcourt had a difficult time with Texas guard Isaiah Taylor penetrating the Bears’ zone defense all game and scoring a career-best 28 points.
Jefferson was held scoreless on two shots in the first half against a Texas team that had a three-guard starting lineup, but broke out in the second half after the dunk that came at the 12:50 mark.
The 6-foot-9 Jefferson took control of the paint on the defensive side, blocking two consecutive shots by UT center Cameron Ridley and another shot by Longhorns guard Demarcus Holland on the next three UT possessions.
Texas’ smaller lineup outrebounded Baylor 43-40 and Baylor’s starting frontcourt trio of Jefferson, O’Neale and Prince outscored UT’s combo of Jonathan Holmes and Ridley by a margin of 23-22.
O’Neale had a total of three rebounds. He was hampered for most of the game after taking a hard fall while going for an offensive rebound in the first half.
Jefferson came into the game as Baylor’s leading scorer with 13.2 points per game while O’Neale was averaging 6.2 points, 2.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds per contest.
The Bears look to get back in the win column Tuesday when they host the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Ferrell Center.