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.
No. 1 seed Baylor beats Wisconsin 76-63 to reach Sweet 16
The Bears answered the run with a dash of more D to reach the Sweet 16 for the fifth time under coach Scott Drew. Dominant Baylor showed up in the opener after a shaky start, hitting 11 3-pointers in a 79-55 win over Hartford. The Sweet 16 bid fell short when the shots wouldn't fall down the stretch. Baylor showed glimpses of the dominating D from its fast start to the season. The Bears let up a little in the second half, but it was plenty good enough to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2017.
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 to clinch the Bears' first Big 12 regular season championship. Baylor (19-1, 11-1 Big 12) bounced back in a big way from its only loss of the season at No. Mitchell’s layup with 59 seconds left in overtime put Baylor ahead to stay. He then took a charge against McBride with 27 seconds left, and Mitchell hit two free throws with 18 seconds left for the final margin. West Virginia: The Mountaineers saw a three-game winning streak snapped but are still looking at a solid NCAA Tournament seeding.
Baylor back from pause, resumes bid for undefeated season
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)Baylor is back in its bid for an undefeated season. 2 Bears return from a lengthy COVID-19 pause this week with three games in five days. Baylor returns to the court for the first time in three weeks Tuesday against Iowa State. “I’d like to believe that we’re going to pick up where we left off,” Baylor junior guard Jared Butler said. AdUNDEFEATED ZAGSGonzaga's bid for an undefeated season could close this week, barring any additions to the schedule.
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.
Texas’ Smart says he had ‘significant’ COVID-19 symptoms
Texas head coach Shaka Smart directs his team against Kansas State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)AUSTIN, Texas – Texas coach Shaka Smart said Monday he had “significant” symptoms while in extended isolation from his team and family after testing positive for COVID-19 as he and the No. He didn't detail the extent of the symptoms he experienced, but appeared frustrated that Texas played last week's home loss to No. 9 Oklahoma when the Longhorns were missing their head coach, two starters and a key reserve because of COVID-19 protocols. Baylor guard Davion Mitchell predicted Texas will have to adjust after having so many players, and Smart, forced to sit out.
No. 2 Baylor still undefeated after 84-72 win over Auburn
(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)WACO, Texas – This Baylor win was for Davion Mitchell, and the junior guard did his part against his former team. Mitchell swished a 3-pointer after losing a shoe and finished with 13 points and seven assists, helping the Bears stay undefeated with an 84-72 win over Auburn in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday. “And that’s OK, because Butler, and Teague and Davion Mitchell and Flagler are all really good,” Pearl said. "That conversation down the court, that was pretty cool.”AHEAD TO STAYButler made two free throws with 4:50 left in the first half for a 23-22 Baylor lead. Baylor: Baylor is 7-1 in Big 12/SEC Challenge games, the best record by any team in either league in the annual showdown.
Butler’s 22 lead No. 2 Baylor past Oklahoma State 81-66
(AP Photo/Justin Rex)STILLWATER, Okla. – Baylor’s depth and experience eventually overwhelmed an Oklahoma State team that was missing star freshman Cade Cunningham due to COVID-19 protocols. Jared Butler scored 22 points, and the second-ranked Bears rallied from a halftime deficit to beat Oklahoma State 81-66 on Saturday. Key reserve Rondel Walker also sat out with an arm injury, leaving Oklahoma State with eight players available. STAT LINESOklahoma State outrebounded Baylor 23-12 in the first half, but Baylor won the matchup 22-14 in the second half. Oklahoma State visits Iowa State on Monday.
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.
No. 2 Baylor up to 12-0 after 68-60 win at No. 15 Texas Tech
Baylor head coach Scott Drew watches from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. 15 Texas Tech 68-60 on Saturday in their closest game this season. Mac McClung had 24 points for Texas Tech, while Kevin McCullar had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Texas Tech led 45-44 after Marcus Santos-Silva made a free throw with 7:14 left. Texas Tech missed a chance for its highest ranking this season (that was 13th last month).
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.