The Baylor Bears completed their transformation from all-but-done to Anaheim-bound on Sunday in an 85-55 victory in which they crushed No. 3 seed Creighton from the tip. The Bears, on the NCAA Tournament bubble not long ago, advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time in five seasons. No. 2 seed Wisconsin awaits Thursday in California in a West region semifinal. But before Baylor left the AT&T Center court Sunday, the Bears took a bit longer to relish what had really been a game-long fiesta, saluting the “BU! BU!” chanting fans. If the streaky, six-seeded Bears had been overlooked as contenders to make a deep postseason run, they changed perceptions with team-wide offensive and defensive performances that flirted with green-and-gold nirvana. “It’s perfect basketball. That’s what we like to call it,” senior guard Gary Franklin said. “When you’re having success on both ends, it’s just great basketball.” Dougie McBuckets? The Bears made the prolific, nation-leading Bluejays scorer look very much just like one Doug McDermott, limiting him to 15 points, 12 below his average, on 7-of-14 shooting. McDermott ended his college career with the fifth-most career points in NCAA history. He shared a hug that lasted a couple beats longer than usual with coach Greg McDermott, his father, when he exited the game. But this was Baylor’s show. All five starters reached double figures, led by Brady Heslip and Isaiah Austin, who each poured in 17. Baylor beat Creighton, the nation’s top 3-point shooting team, at its own game. It was the Bears who sank 11-of-18 3-pointers. Heslip hit 5-of-7 from deep, coming on top of an 0-of-6 3-point performance in Friday’s opening win over Nebraska. Kenny Chery was 4-of-5 on 3-pointers. Baylor shot 63.8 percent overall. “Everything that could have gone against us did,” Creighton guard Jahenns Manigat said. “They were making some shots out there that they haven’t all year. …It’s hard to overcome that when it’s happening to you.” Perhaps the biggest Baylor star: its zone defense. The Bears had heard questions about whether they’d be able to shut down McDermott and Creighton’s other sharpshooters. They answered with a smothering effort that meant McDermott always felt checked, from Heslip and Chery at the top of the key, to a watchful Cory Jefferson on the wing. If Creighton’s other players were left with space, Baylor’s 7-1 Isaiah Austin reigned in the center of the zone, daring them to make a move. Creighton shot 5-of-24 from 3-point range, 1-of-9 in the first half. McDermott was 0-for-3 from long distance and at halftime had three points on 1-of-4 shooting. By that point, Baylor led, 40-20. “That zone is tricky,” Baylor forward Taurean Prince said. “It’s really just movement. We’re flying around, getting in passing lanes. The harder you play, the better the zone is.” A sequence early on told the story. Austin and Jefferson raced out to the left corner, tracking down McDermott, who let loose with an air ball. The rare whiff happened amid a shower of Baylor 3-pointers that helped the Bears build an early double-digit lead.
Baylor blows out Creighton 85-55, advances to Sweet 16
Dallas Morning News | Mar 24