AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — For a team still fighting to prove its NCAA tournament credentials, Baylor came agonizingly close to the kind of win that could prove very valuable.
At this point, the Bears may have to hope that losing close in a conference as tough as the Big 12 will be good enough.
Cameron Ridley had 20 points and 10 rebounds and made a big defensive play with a block in the final minute as No. 24 Texas held on to beat Baylor 74-69 on Wednesday night after the Bears had rallied from 18 points down to pull within one late.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak and means that Baylor (18-10, 6-9 Big 12), a team ranked as high as No. 7 this season, can finish no better than .500 in the Big 12 with just three games left in the regular season.
"Our back's against the wall and we know we need to win games," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "The bad thing, it's kind of like you get penalized having the best conference. ... The Big 12 is the toughest I've personally seen top to bottom since I've been at Baylor."
Javan Felix scored 21 points on seven 3-pointers for Texas (21-7, 10-5), and Isaiah Taylor scored 13, including a twisting left-handed layup that put Texas ahead 72-69. Ridley blocked a layup by Kenny Chery before Taylor made two free throws.
Jonathan Holmes scored 14 points for the Longhorns, including eight straight in a key stretch of the second half to help Texas protect its lead late.
Chery scored 27 points and Cory Jefferson scored 14 for Baylor.
Texas got a much-needed win to restore its confidence after losing three of its previous five games, including two blowout losses on the road. A seven-game winning streak early in the Big 12 schedule set the Longhorns on No. 5 Kansas' heels in the Big 12 title chase until the late-season swoon.