WACO (AP)– Baylor is suddenly streaking in the wrong direction, despite Pierre Jackson’s best effort at the end against fifth-ranked Missouri.
The third-ranked Bears, who began the week with their highest ranking ever and a 17-0 record, have lost consecutive games after losing 89-88 at home Saturday. Both losses were against Top 10 teams.
“Home losses, they stink,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “That’s what makes our league so great. There’s no easy game. … Hopefully we’ll get back to rebounding a little better, trying to get to the free-throw line like we were for most of the year, and then go from there.”
Ricardo Ratliffe, the nation’s best shooter, scored a career-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting for the Tigers (19-1, 5-1 Big 12), who built an early lead by outrebounding Baylor’s big front-line and then made 10 free throws in the final minute to hold off a furious rally by the Bears.
It was Missouri’s first win on the road against a Top 5 team since 1994. The Tigers also won at a place where they had lost their last three trips, this being their last before moving to the Southeastern Conference next season.
Baylor (17-2, 4-2) was coming off a 92-74 loss at No. 7 Kansas that ended the Bears’ record 17-game winning streak. The loss to Missouri ended their 10-game home winning streak.
Freshman Quincy Miller had 29 points to lead the Bears while Jackson had 20 points and 15 assists. Quincy Acy had 18 points with nine rebounds while Heslip had 10 points.
Jackson had 11 points and three assists in the final 2:06 when Baylor closed the game with a 19-10 run. Jackson started that when he drove and was fouled, yelling out “and one!” before he even hit the floor and the ball fell through the hoop. He made the free throw, cutting the deficit to 79-72.
“We knew we were down, we knew what we had to do to get the game back, just fell short at the end,” Jackson said. “We had to get quick points and try to defend as good as we could at the end and get some stops.”
Jackson scored eight points in a row for the Bears before consecutive assists, including a pass inside to Miller for a basket and then a free throw with 26 seconds left that got them within 85-82. Jackson added a leaning 3-pointer with 5 seconds left.
After Marcus Denmon’s fifth free throw in the final 33 seconds stretched the margin to four, Jackson had one more desperate attempt. He tried to throw up a 3-pointer and draw a foul in the same motion, but the ball wound up in Heslip’s hands along the left wing with no one around him. Heslip hit a 3-pointer to end the game.
“Obviously this was a great win for us,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “Our guys showed tremendous poise down the stretch. Throughout the game, we played with great toughness.”
Ratliffe, who is shooting 77 percent from the field this season, had a big two-handed slam dunk midway through the second half when he scored six points in an 8-0 spurt that put the Tigers up 68-58. Missouri still had a 10-point lead with 3:07 left, then didn’t score again until his two free throws with a minute left.
The top two scoring and shooting teams in the Big 12 certainly lived up to that billing in the league’s first top-five matchup that didn’t involve either Kansas or Texas.
Missouri shot 55 percent (30 of 55), and Baylor finished at 57 percent (36 of 63).
Phil Pressey had 18 points for the Tigers while Denmon had 15 and Kim English 10.
The Tigers, who have won four in a row since their loss at Kansas State two weeks ago, led only 58-56 midway through the second half when Pressey had a turnover. Heslip tried a 3-pointer and appeared to be hit when he shot, but there was no foul and Drew was called for a technical foul.
“I deserved it,” Drew said. “I didn’t cuss at him though.”
Denmon made both of those free throws, then after a layup by Acy, Ratliff had his big dunk and added two free throws between consecutive turnovers by Jackson. Ratliffe’s layup after Pressey’s steal made it 68-58 with 8 minutes left.
Missouri led 39-35 at the half after a 6-0 run that included consecutive putback baskets.
By that point, the Tigers had a 14-0 advantage in second-chance points and its 10 offensive rebounds were only one fewer than the Bears’ total rebounds.
“That’s the difference in the game,” Acy said. “They came out strong on the boards, and that really helped them.”
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press)