Tyrese Hunter made a game-winning layup at the buzzer to lift Texas to a 75-73 win at home vs. No. 9 Baylor on Saturday as the Longhorns secured a much-needed victory over a quality opponent. Hunter's heroics capped a tightly contested Big 12 showdown that featured 21 lead changes and 10 ties with neither team ever leading by more than six in the second half.

Texas (13-5, 2-3 Big 12) shot a scorching 9 of 11 from 3`-point range in the first half before relying on its defense down the stretch. Baylor (14-4, 3-2) failed to make a shot from the field for more than nine minutes until Jalen Bridges tied the game with 5.1 seconds remaining on a 3-pointer from the left wing.

Instead of calling a timeout after Bridges made the game-tying shot, Texas coach Rodney Terry allowed the final play to happen organically. Hunter inbounded the ball to Dylan Disu, who promptly passed it back to Hunter as he began running full speed. Hunter made it into the paint and got the shot off with plenty of time. After it rattled home, the Longhorns mobbed him in celebration. 

Hunter led the Longhorns with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Disu added 19 points for Texas while Max Abmas scored 15. Ja'Kobe Walter led Baylor with 22, and Bridges added 17. The two are set to play again at Baylor on March 4, but Saturday's showdown marked Texas' last home game against Baylor with the Bears as a Big 12 foe.

Why it mattered so much

Texas entered the day outside the projected NCAA Tournament field, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm, and a loss would have sent the Longhorns careening even faster toward the danger zone after last season's Elite Eight run.

The Longhorns stumbled out of the gate during one of the most manageable portions of their league schedule. First, they fell at home on Jan. 6 to a Texas Tech team led by first-year coach Grant McCasland. Then, after a 74-73 win at league newcomer Cincinnati, Texas dropped consecutive games against West Virginia and UCF, both of whom are expected to be bottom-feeders in the league this season.

It was against that backdrop that Texas entered Saturday's game, which was the first of six straight against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25 poll. Nothing comes easy in the Big 12, and Texas did itself no favors over the past couple weeks. Thus, the stakes were high against the Bears and will remain that was as UT braces itself for the rigors of the nation's toughest league.

Baylor's Walter gets going

Walter's 22 points for Baylor marked his highest scoring output in a Big 12 game so far. The five-star freshman guard was just 5 of 22 from the field and 1 of 10 from 3-point range in his first two league road games. He finished 5 of 12 from the floor and 3 of 7 from 3-point range against the Longhorns. Walter also made 9-of-11 free throws, including six late in the second half as the Bears struggled to find other sources of offense. It was a frustrating end for Baylor, but Walter's performance was a positive takeaway.