Basketball tournaments are in full swing. On Sunday evening, the Lady Bears take the court at the Ferrell Center to defend their national title. First up is a game versus Prairie View A&M. They are the overwhelming favorite to win the national title led by their All-American duo of Brittney Griner (24 ppg; 9 reb; 5 blks) and Odyssey Sims (13 ppg; 6 asst; 3 st).
The men made it to the Final 8 of the NIT tournament by defeating Arizona State before a raucous home crowd in Waco. The game was an intense battle between two teams that wanted to prove they were snubbed by the NCAA committee. It was an excellent basketball game played at a high level except for the subpar officiating. The game included 53 fouls and 67 free throws and two ejections of key players (Walton for Baylor and Gilling for Arizona State).
Carrick Felix (15 ppg; 8 reb) for Arizona State was a beast until Baylor was able to hold him scoreless for the last 5 minutes of regulation. He was knocking down deep three pointers and also taking Baylor's big men to the basket where they struggled with his quickness. He led ASU with 23 points and gathered 8 rebounds. A key stretch in the game happened around the 5 minute mark. Arizona State trailed 64-63.
Isaiah Austin subbed in and immediately hit a jumper to put the Bears up 66-63. Felix missed a long three pointer and Austin tipped in a Pierre Jackson miss to stretch the Bears lead to 5. On the next possession, Felix kicked out his leg on a drive that caught Austin in the stomach. The official called it a charge. Baylor would extend the lead to 9 and kept a margin the rest of the way.
Jahii Carson for Arizona State added 20 points; 5 assists and 6 turnovers in a losing effort. Most of his damage came late in the game when ASU was in catch-up mode. When the game was in the balance, the senior Jackson outplayed the freshman Carson. But Carson certainly showed that he has the potential to be one of the best guards in college basketball next year.
Pierre Jackson for Baylor was casual early in the game- missing his open shots and seemed to be coasting. But late in the first half, Jackson got hammered on a drive to the basket and didn't get the foul. That seemed to piss him off and spurred a fantastic performance the rest of the way. Arizona State led 29-22 with 2 minutes left in the 1st half. Jackson drove the lane and converted a three point play the traditional way (lay-up and free throw). Jackson scored the final 7 points of the half for the Bears to pull them to within two: 31-29.
In the second half, Jackson put on a show. He ended the game with 26 points (most of them from the foul line where he was 17-21) and 16 assists. He also had 4 steals. Jefferson and Austin were efficient inside for Baylor. They combined for 34 points on 15-21 from the field. They collected 12 rebounds and 6 blocks as a duo. More importantly, they completely dominated Arizona State's version of Jeff Withey (7-2 Jordan Bachynski). Bachynski came into the game averaging 10 points; 6 rebounds and nearly 4 blocks. Against Baylor, he had 4 points; 2 rebounds; 1 block and 3 turnovers.
Heslip played very well for the Bears- competing hard on defense; grabbing 4 rebounds; knocking down 4 three pointers and dishing out 3 assists to zero turnovers. Baylor also got key contributions from Ricardo Gathers in the 1st half and Taurean Prince (4 points; 3 rebounds; 2 steals) and Deuce Bello (6 points; 4 rebounds) in the 2nd half.
The Bears will face the winner of Providence vs Robert Morris next Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center. The victory last night against Arizona State marks the fifth 20+ win season for Scott Drew in the last 6 years. Drew is now 151-69 (69% winning percentage) during that period. Baylor basketball had only three years prior to Scott Drew where they won 20+ games (1946,1948,1988).
Kim Mulkey is working on a more dominant streak in the women's game. Mulkey is 370-80 at Baylor (82% winning percentage). She has won at least 20 games each of her 13 seasons at Baylor. And she hopes to collect her third national championship as she enjoys having arguably the most dominant player in the history of the women's game in Brittney Griner.