Published November 16, 2012
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Baylor coach Scott Drew had a quick flashback to one of college basketball's most iconic shots when Jacob Neubert's perfectly thrown ball was caught near the foul line some 70 feet away by center Isaiah Austin.
That's when the similarities ended.
Austin's last-chance try with a second left was off the mark and the 16th-ranked Bears lost to Colorado 60-58 on Friday at the Charleston Classic.
"(Christian) Laettner's went in, though," Drew said of the former Duke star and the dramatic final shot he made to beat Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA tournament.
The loss dropped Baylor (3-1) into the tournament's third-place game Sunday and gave Drew lots of things to work on down the road.
The Bears' three starting guards — Pierre Jackson, A.J. Walton and Brady Heslip — were a combined 7 of 26 from the field. Point guard Jackson, who connected for 31 points in an opening-round win over Boston College on Thursday, was held to 12 points and just four in the second half.
"Shooting's a funny thing," Drew said. "Some days it's on. Some days it's off. As a coach, you just want to have quality looks and you can live with the results. I thought Colorado did a good job making it difficult."
Drew understood this year's team would need time to develop after losing standouts like Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller and Perry Jones III from last year's run to the NCAA tournament's final eight.
Cory Jefferson led the Bears with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting. He was a key reserve last season and is now being counted on to fill the void left on Baylor's front line.
"I just wanted to come out here and go after every rebound and do everything I could for my team," he said.
The Buffaloes (3-0) overcame some horrible free-throw shooting to advance.
"We've got a day off tomorrow," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. "I think we might get into the gym and shoot some."
It was hard for Colorado's coaches to stomach down the stretch. Andre Roberson and Spencer Dinwiddie each missed the front end of a one-and-one, the usually reliable Booker was just 1 of 2 from the line and Roberson missed two more — all within the game's last 61 seconds.
"They weren't making free throws but we weren't rebounding from the free-throw line," Drew said. "I think it was two teams that wanted to win bad that didn't have postseason execution, but had early-season execution."
Askia Booker scored 19 points to lead the Buffs, who earned a measure of payback for last March when the Bears knocked them out in the third round of the NCAAs.
"We fought through the whole game because we know they're going to make shots," said Booker, who scored 15 points in the NCAA loss to Baylor. "It's going to come down to who wants it more."
Spencer Dinwiddie added 11 for Colorado, while Roberson had seven points and 13 rebounds, his second straight tournament game with double-digit boards.
Roberson and the Buffs had to be strong on the glass with so many missed free throws. Roberson missed a one-and-one try with 1:01 to go and Colorado ahead 59-56.
Jackson's bucket with 19.8 seconds left drew Baylor within a point.
Dinwiddie next went to the line for Colorado and he, too, missed in a one-and-one situation. But Shane Harris-Tunks came up with the rebound for the Buffaloes, and Booker was fouled.
He made only one attempt and Baylor was on the run, but Walton was short on his driving shot and Roberson collected the rebound, got fouled and set up the final moments.
Heslip, who made nine 3-pointers and scored 27 points in the NCAA tournament victory, made just one of his six 3-point tries.
Booker said the Buffaloes took extra care to slow down Heslip, who they watched connect for 27 points in the NCAA win last March. The emphasis, Booker said, was to work through screens and not let Heslip get going with his outside shot.
Drew said he took on this tournament to put his younger players into difficult situations so they'll feel more comfortable when the games get bigger later in the season.
"But right now, unfortunately, we might pick up some losses like today," Drew said.