KANSAS CITY – Last season, the Big 12 Tournament was host to a wild second day. Three of the top four feeds fell in the quarterfinals in Oklahoma City in 2009, with No. 3 Missouri being the only top seed to survive Day Two.
You'll have to forgive the Big 12 its lack of intrigue on Day Two in 2010. The top four seeds in Kansas City all advanced on Thursday, capped by the third-seeded Baylor Bears downing the No. 6 Texas Longhorns, 86-67.
Baylor shot 71 percent through the first five minutes, opening a 14-7 lead early. The game picked up a bit of intrigue in the early stages, however, as Baylor sharpshooter LaceDarius Dunn picked up three quick fouls, including one on a double technical with Texas' J'Covan Brown. Dunn sat for the rest of the half as Texas began to rally.
The game settled down considerably – both in chippiness and in momentum swings – in the latter part of the second half. Both teams ended the half shooting in the 40 percent range, trading buckets and generally keeping the Horns within a few points of the Bears.
Dunn's return in the second half provided Baylor with an immediate spark. In the first minute of the half, Dunn barely left the ground on his way to hitting a 19-footer with a hand in his face. 35 seconds later, he came up with a steal that led to an Ekpe Udoh layup that forced Texas coach Rick Barnes to take a timeout. Udoh returned the favor after the stoppage in play, coming up with a defensive rebound and throwing the long transition pass to Dunn, who flushed it home while drawing the second foul on Texas' Damion James. Just like that, the green and gold snowball was rolling, as moments later Barnes was forced to take another timeout, during which time James drew a technical foul. All of this came as part of a 13-0 Baylor run.
Dunn finished with 19 points in only 21 minutes of action. All but two of the points came in the second half.
The Big 12 Tournament really showcased the best and worst of James. He helped will Texas to victory in the first round on Wednesday, putting up 28 points and 16 rebounds. On Thursday, his numbers – 18 points and 12 rebounds, both team-highs – were still impressive, but his lack of judgment and wavering focus at times proved detrimental to Texas' cause.
For the most part, Baylor's halfcourt game didn't kill Texas, but the Longhorns' inability to effectively limit the Bears in transition ultimately proved fatal.
Baylor will take on No. 2 Kansas State, who had easily the most impressive performance of the tournament a few hours earlier in an 83-64 pasting of Oklahoma State. That semifinal is set for 8:30 p.m. Friday night.