WACO, Texas - Maybe there should have been orange Under Construction signs outside the Ferrell Center. The Big 12 Conference opener between Texas and Baylor matched two teams that are like a nascent Hollywood script - in development.
The difference in the outcome boiled down to the Bears pounding the ball inside to score and create fouls plus senior point guard Pierre Jackson. The preseason player of the year scored 11 of his 24 points and added two assists in overtime as Baylor overcame the Longhorns, 86-79, Saturday.
"We've all got our roles. That's mine," Jackson said of his take-over mode in OT. "My teammates have a lot of faith and confidence in me."
Jackson helped offset a break-out game by UT freshman Javan Felix. He scored the first two baskets of overtime for the Longhorns but Jackson countered with a drive and two free throws sandwiched around an assist to Cory Jefferson (25 points, 10 rebounds).
When the pep band played the school song at game's end, it could have been called the "Good ol' Baylor free throw line."
The Bears made 36 of 45 free throws compared to Texas making 9-of-14. The Bears missed 25 of their 35 shot attempts after intermission against the team leading the nation in field goal percentage defense. Baylor shot 35.9 percent and its ability to get to the free throw line helped offset its inability to score from the field.
"It's very important for us to get the ball inside; when we get to the paint good things happen," said Jefferson. "We can either score or get fouled. If we miss, we can get the offensive rebound. It's the start of Big 12 play and it's gonna be physical."
The Bears (9-4, 1-0) have lost at home to College of Charleston and Northwestern. Failing to defend the home court in the season opener would have further whittled their NCAA Tournament margin for error.
Texas (8-6, 0-1) had won three of its last four with one of the victories coming against North Carolina and the loss at Michigan State - both ranked teams. But the Longhorns' streak of reaching the NCAA tourney 14 consecutive seasons is in jeopardy.
"We fouled too much, we didn't defend their post players and we failed to rebound at crucial times," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "With all that, we were in position to win. There were some bright spots we can build on. I think we should have won the game but we didn't. Have had five other games we should have won and that's my fault."
The Big 12 opener also could be given an incomplete grade for both teams. Baylor was without coach Scott Drew who was serving the first of a two-game suspension as part of the school's NCAA sanctions.
"It was a great experience and I was honored to have the opportunity," said Baylor assistant Jerome Tang, who is Drew's surrogate for two games. "But it's not a me thing, it was a we thing. I didn't feel any pressure.
"We're not where we want to be. We never thought we'd be as good as we can be when the season started. People wanted us to be good in game one. We've had to go through the fire."
And Texas continues to be without sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo, who won't return until Feb. 13 as he serves an NCAA-mandated suspension.
Felix, who is playing in place of Kabongo, channeled D.J. Augustine, another point guard from New Orleans. Felix had a career-high 26 points and added nine assists. The freshman was averaging 8.3 points and had scored in double figures in just four games. "The scouting report said let him shoot," Jackson said.
He did, putting up 23 shots and connecting on 11. Most of Felix's scoring came on pull up jumpers in the lane or drives.
"Javan can score the ball," Barnes said. "We've put a lot on him; he's had to handle more than maybe any player in the country. He's tough minded and he wants to win. He's learning a lot and he'll learn a lot from this."
As works in progress, the education continues for both teams.