Houston v Baylor
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No. 2 Houston continued its impressive run through Big 12 play on Saturday by holding off No. 11 Baylor's furious comeback attempt in Waco, Texas, and outlasting the Bears 82-76 in a wild overtime affair. Houston raced out to a 17-point lead in the first half before Baylor barged back with a barrage of second-half scoring to tie things at 69 just before the end of regulation. The game appeared to end in a dramatic buzzer-beater from Houston's Jamal Shead, but replay review revealed his would-be game-winner was off just after time had expired.

With the win, Houston expanded its lead in the Big 12 regular-season race (with second-place Iowa State set to play West Virginia Saturday hoping to remain one game behind the Cougars) and in the process improved to 10-1 in its last 11 games. Houston's 10 wins in 11 Big 12 games tied for the best 11-game mark in Big 12 play since Baylor's opening to league play in 2020-21. 

The Cougars uncharacteristically lost the battle on the boards to Baylor on both the offensive and defensive glass but made up for it by forcing 19 turnovers -- 14 of which came via steals. Houston converted those turnovers to 21 points and limited its own turnovers to just eight.

Jalen Bridges, Ja'Kobe Walter and RayJ Dennis combined for 37 second-half points in Baylor's bid for a comeback -- the trio outscored Houston as a team (28) in the second half -- but it was all Houston in the extra frame. Houston made nine of its 10 free-throw attempts, forced four turnovers and held Baylor to 3-of-10 shooting in the overtime period to hang on for the win.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

1. Houston's defense wins its own way

Houston's defensive modus operandi all season has been to play physical, force turnovers, and push teams out onto the perimeter, daring them to shoot from distance. Houston did just that against a Baylor team that ranks top-five in the country in 3-point shooting percentage and still won.

The Bears don't take the volume of 3-pointers proportionate to a team that is among the best in the nation at shooting them, but on Saturday they let it fly, attempting 25 triples in the losing effort. That ties for the team's seventh-most in a game all season. Baylor hit 10 of the 25 but went 0-for-3 from distance in OT. Houston, meanwhile, forced 19 turnovers and scored 21 points off those opportunities.

2. Baylor's big second half

Twelve minutes and two seconds into game action, No. 2 Houston looked primed to blow the game open, building a 17-point lead (29-12) that looked insurmountable. A confluence of factors helped the Bears close the gap. Baylor got hot on offense, for starters, particularly in the second half, and Houston's stars struggled down the stretch to boot. Baylor outscored Houston 44-28 in the second half and its offense put up a red-hot 1.517 points per possession in the final frame of action. Houston in that span was held to 9 of 27 shooting from the field and out-rebounded 18 to 13. 

3. Can anyone catch the Cougs?

No team is immune from taking losses in the vaunted Big 12. But on paper, Saturday was arguably the most slippery spot remaining for Houston to fall back to the pack in the regular season. The win moved it to 11-3 in league play with four games -- two at home and two on the road -- remaining. Houston will likely be favored by several possessions in both its home games (vs. Cincinnati and Kansas) and its away games (vs. UCF and Oklahoma). Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech have done a good job keeping the title race interesting, but Houston's big road win might remove some last-minute drama.