Final Four set, a question left: Can anybody beat Gonzaga?
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)It’s not easy to bury a team as good as USC, let alone in a half, no matter how easy Gonzaga made it look. He asked Few the day before their game against the high-flying Trojans whether his defense was getting lost in the shuffle. “Obviously, I think he’s the best defender in the country,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. Then Baylor’s bout with the virus came late in the season, requiring a pause of three weeks plus. After everything else fans weathered throughout this wacky season, a few more days might finally deliver a national championship game worth the wait.
Baylor beats Arkansas 81-72 for first Final Four in 71 years
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)INDIANAPOLIS – Baylor had been on the cusp of the Final Four twice before under coach Scott Drew, falling to the eventual champion both times. Baylor is headed there for the first time in 71 years, getting 22 points from MaCio Teague and a dominating defensive performance from Davion Mitchell to beat Arkansas 81-72 on Monday night. The top-seeded Bears (26-2) appeared to be barreling toward ending their Final Four drought with a dominating start. That left the Bears short of the Final Four dating back to when the bracket was only eight teams. He gave Arkansas all kinds of trouble on the pick-and-roll in the second half, finishing with 12 points and six assists.
Close range: Baylor grinds to Elite 8 in 62-51 win ova 'Nova
Davion Mitchell, a 46% shooter from 3 this season, went 0 for 3 from long range on a 14-point day. Jared Butler scored nine points on 1-for-9 shooting from 3, and MaCio Teague had five points without a 3. The guards did a great job of not settling and probing more.”Because of that, Baylor shot 53% in the second half, even though it made only one 3. Constantly harassing Villanova shooters who'd carved out space in the first half, Baylor held Villanova to 37.5% shooting in the second and 0 for 9 from 3. Forward Brandon Slater left the game about midway through the second half after landing awkwardly during a fight for a rebound.
The Latest: Appleby cleared to play for Florida
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)The Latest on the second round of the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern):___7:45 p.m.Florida guard Tyree Appleby has been cleared to play and was in the starting lineup for No. 1 seed in the second round for a third time, joining the 2000 team against Arizona and the 2017 squad against Villanova. Sister Jean Delores Schmidt gave an inspirational pregame prayer to her Loyola Chicago team before the eighth-seeded Ramblers met top-seeded Illinois in Sunday’s second round. UCLA and Abilene Christian face off Monday, assuring that at least one double-digit seed will reach the Sweet 16. This is the first time four teams seeded 13th or worse made it to the second round.
Gonzaga, Baylor dominate AP All-America teams
(AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)Gonzaga and Baylor spent almost the entire season holding down the top two spots in the Top 25. Makes sense they'd hold down a bunch of spots on The Associated Press All-America teams. The Bulldogs' Corey Kispert and the Bears' Jared Butler led the way with first-team nods Tuesday from the national panel of 63 media members that vote each week in the AP Top 25 poll. Just like the first- and second-team All-Americans, their teams also will be playing in the NCAA Tournament this week. ___AP Basketball Writer John Marshall and AP Sports Writers Michael Marot and Stephen Hawkins contributed to this report.
Pick Six: Veterans to watch as NCAA Tournament begins
(AP Photo/Chase Stevens)INDIANAPOLIS – There has never been a better time to have senior leadership in the NCAA Tournament than this season. AdVirginia intends to play after withdrawing from the ACC Tournament because of COVID-19 protocols, which means fans will get to say Sam Hauser running the show. Dru Smith is their leading scorer and Jeremiah Tilmon finally reached his potential this season, and both aim to help Missouri snap a four-game NCAA Tournament skid. Herb Jones is an All-American candidate and Jaden Shackelford is Alabama's leading scorer, but John Petty Jr. makes the SEC Tournament champs go. Then there's Tennessee forward John Fulkerson, who sustained facial fractures in an SEC Tournament win over Florida and underwent surgery Sunday.
No. 12 Oklahoma St beats No. 2 Baylor 83-74 in Big 12 semis
– Confidence has never been a problem for Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham. 12 Cowboys trying to rally from a second-half hole against second-ranked Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament, Cunningham calmly responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to give his team the lead. Ad“You have to give Oklahoma State a lot of credit," Drew said. The Bears did get off to a quick start, but Oklahoma State answered and gradually pulled ahead. Oklahoma State split the season series with the Longhorns, losing a 77-74 nail-biter in December before winning a 75-67 double-overtime thriller early last month.
Big 12 champ No. 3 Baylor beats No. 17 Oklahoma State 81-70
Two days after the Bears clinched their first Big 12 title with an overtime win at No. 17 Oklahoma State on Thursday night, ending the Cowboys' five-game winning streak. “You want to be content with winning the Big 12, but at the same time you don’t want to lose a game,” Butler said. AdFreshman standout and Big 12 leading scorer Cade Cunningham had 20 of his 24 points after halftime for Oklahoma State (17-7, 10-7), whose winning streak was the longest active in the Big 12. I didn’t see anything unusual other than stepping on a guy’s foot,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said.
No. 3 Baylor clinches B12 title in OT, 94-89 over No. 6 WVU
6 West Virginia 94-89 Tuesday for the Bears' first Big 12 regular-season title. Ad“At the end of the day, they just did more of the little stuff at the end to win the game," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. But the Bears went scoreless for nearly six minutes before halftime, allowing West Virginia to keep it close the rest of the game. They shot 51% (36 of 70) from the floor against West Virginia. West Virginia hosts TCU on Thursday.
No. 2 Baylor stays unbeaten, tops No. 6 Texas 83-69
Baylor forward Flo Thamba (0) celebrates a score against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)AUSTIN, Texas – Texas played Baylor tougher than most teams have this season. 2 Baylor used a big run to pull away for an 83-69 victory over sixth-ranked Texas on Tuesday night. Texas (11-4, 5-3) was within six points late before Baylor pulled away behind open 3-pointers from Adam Flagler and Mitchell. Instead of rallying the Longhorns, Jared Butler made his free throws and another quick basket put Baylor up by 10.
No. 2 Baylor still undefeated after 84-72 win over Auburn
2 Baylor stayed undefeated with an 84-72 win over Auburn in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday. Adam Flagler, another transfer, led the Bears with a season-high 19 points, while Butler had 16, MaCio Teague 15 and Mayer 13. He played 34 games at Auburn as a freshman in 2017-18 before transferring to Baylor, and Butler was initially enrolled at Alabama, though he never played for the Crimson Tide. AdBaylor: The Bears trailed for only 61 seconds against Auburn, and have trailed only 45:21 of 640 minutes played this season. Baylor is 7-1 in Big 12/SEC Challenge games, the best record by any team in either league in the annual showdown.
Butler scores 30, unbeaten No. 2 Baylor tops No. 9 Kansas
Baylor guard Jared Butler (12) shoots a three-point basket past Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Waco, Texas. Butler had a season-high 30 points and eight assists as the Bears remained undefeated with a 77-69 victory Monday night over No. 9 Kansas, which has lost consecutive Big 12 games for the first time in nearly eight years. “To win the Big 12, we’re going to need all 15 guys, we need everybody, we need the staff. “They were real focused, like we’ve been for every game,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
Gonzaga and Baylor to face off in rare top-2 meeting
2 Baylor will play in Indianapolis on Saturday for the ninth meeting between the top two teams in AP Top 25 since 2005. 2 Kentucky met last season in the previous 1-vs.-2 meeting, a game won by the Wildcats 69-62. Playing in Las Vegas, Baylor opened with a 112-82 win over Louisiana-Lafayette and followed with an 96-52 thumping of Washington. Jay Wright's Wildcats opened the season in Bubbleville and opted to stay in Connecticut to face Hartford. Villanova won that game 87-53 to bounce back from its first loss of the season, 81-73 to No.
No. 1 Zags: Gonzaga begins season atop Top 25 for first time
FILE - Gonzaga players celebrate after defeating Saint Mary's in an NCAA college basketball game in the final of the West Coast Conference men's tournament in Las Vegas, in this Tuesday, March 10, 2020, file photo. Gonzaga will begin the college basketball season No. 1 for the first time after coach Mark Few's bunch earned 28 first-place votes in the preseason AP Top 25 poll released Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
No. 1 Zags: Gonzaga begins season atop Top 25 for first time
Iowa was picked fifth behind national player of the year front-runner Luka Garza, its highest preseason ranking in school history. The Bears, who also have their highest preseason ranking, spent five weeks at No. THE REST OF THE POLLCreighton lost Ty-Shon Alexander to the NBA and Davion Mintz to Kentucky but still landed the highest preseason ranking in school history at No. 17, its highest preseason ranking since the final Phi Slama Jama team of Hakeem Olajuwon began the 1983-84 season at No. 6 in the final poll last season but losing Mountain West player of the year Malachi Flynn and two other elite producers.
WVU beats No. 4 Baylor, denies Bears chance at league title
4 Baylor 76-64 on Saturday, denying the Bears the chance to earn a tie for the Big 12 regular-season championship. Instead, it was West Virginia (21-10, 9-9) celebrating. But West Virginia, the league’s worst free throw shooting team, made 16 of 19 from the line over the final two minutes to seal it. West Virginia: The Mountaineers will take some momentum into the league tournament after going 3-6 in February. West Virginia could re-enter the rankings after dropping out this past week.