Texas' 68-61 defeat to Baylor marks last college basketball at Erwin Center
March 1, 2022
James Akinjo and Adam Flagler each scored 19 points, and the third-ranked Baylor team defeated the Texas Longhorns 68-61 on Monday night in the last regular-season game at the Frank Erwin Center witnessed by a 16,000 crowd.
Flagler poured in 16 of his 19 points during the second half while contributing to the offense of the Bears. Aside from his scoring, Akinjo also had a hand in seven assists and eight of the team's rebounds.
"This is a really tough team. ... It feels good whether it was the last game or not," Akinjo said in a postgame interview. "It's always tough to win on the road in the Big 12."
After the teams were tied at 54-all, Flagler hit an athletic layup and a 3-pointer to give the Bears a five-point lead late in the game.
"I just had to make the shots at the end of the day. I got a lot of wide-open looks," Flagler said about his crucial shots.
After Texas called a timeout with about two minutes left, the Bears secured their most significant game lead. It was 63-54 after a couple of free throws by Akinjo. The third-ranked Baylor kept Texas scoreless for nearly five minutes while building the lead.
According to Flagler, the team's motto during the last five minutes of the game was to be the tougher team. "We put a lot of emphasis on the last five minutes of the game. We pride ourselves on buckling down and just being the tougher team out there. We're all connected," he said.
Baylor's NCAA Tournament chance
After winning its last two games, the Bears moved up to third in the latest Top 25 poll. Now, it's time for the team to focus on winning the Big 12 Tournament and securing a top seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Despite playing without its usual starting lineup due to various injuries, the Bears could pull an upset and defeat Kansas on Saturday. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi projected the team as the No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed for their outstanding performance.
Texas Longhorns coach Chris Beard also echoes a similar view toward Baylor. "I think Baylor's worthy of a top-three ranking and people picking them as a Final Four contender and repeat champion," he said.
Texas' disappointing performance
Marcus Carr led Texas with 13 points. However, the team's offense struggled to score during the game's last five minutes.
Although the game ended disappointingly for Texas fans, Beard refused to make any apologies. He said that the fans should not lose their enthusiasm for the game.
"First of all, the outcome of the game is disappointing for us but it can't and should not take away from the last game at the Erwin Center," the 49 years old coach said. "Thought it was a great game, thought it was a great atmosphere."
Last game at Erwin Center
The game marked the last time the Erwin Center would be used for college basketball. It has been the home of the Texas Longhorns since 1977.
During that time, the men's basketball team recorded an iconic 549-143 at the Erwin Center.
The Erwin Center will be replaced by state-of-the-art Moody Center, which costs more than $300 million to build.