INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Heck, everybody’s entitled to an off night time. However that beatdown Baylor placed on undefeated Gonzaga with the nationwide title on the road — no person noticed that coming.
The fresh-as-can-be Bears obliterated wobbly-legged Gonzaga’s march to perfection Monday night time in an 86-70 runaway that introduced this once-downtrodden program’s first nationwide title again dwelling to Waco, Texas.
Jared Butler scored 22 factors and MaCio Teague had 19 for the Bears (28-2), who had been ranked second or third within the AP ballot all 12 months lengthy — however by no means first, all due to one staff.
Pounding the offensive glass and scrapping for — and successful — the lion’s share of the 50-50 balls, Baylor by no means let this one come right down to a Jalen Suggs miracle. The Gonzaga freshman’s buzzer-beater from close to the half-court brand received the Zags to the ultimate in a recreation that stood as their first true check of the season.
They handed towards UCLA. Towards Baylor? Not even shut.
After operating to a 19-point lead early, the Bears by no means let Gonzaga get any nearer than 9. Butler made 4 3-pointers and added seven assists, and was named the Last 4’s most excellent participant.
“They got here out, they fed off one another, we received off to a terrific begin and defensively, we’re fairly good,” Baylor coach Scott Drew stated.
Guard Davion Mitchell — nicknamed “Off Evening” as a result of so many opponents encounter one after they go towards him — completed with 15 factors and did his greatest on Suggs. The freshman completed with 22 factors — most of them after the Zags had been nicely into desperation mode — and certain will probably be heading to the NBA lottery subsequent.
Gonzaga’s first loss in 32 video games this season — 36 courting to 2019-20 — leaves Indiana’s 1975-76 staff because the final to go undefeated. If Bob Might, Quinn Buckner and the remainder of coach Bob Knight’s staff had been retaining champagne chilly to rejoice — a la the proper ’72 Miami Dolphins — they might’ve uncorked it by halftime.
Baylor was up 9-Zero after 2 1/2 minutes and the Bulldogs confronted solely their fourth double-digit deficit of the season at 11-1. They confronted their largest deficit of the season — 15 factors — with 7:10 gone. By then, Suggs had two fouls and was watching from the bench.
He tried laborious to breathe some fireplace into his teammates, or the Zags followers — who made about as a lot noise because the cardboard cutouts that had been scattered via Lucas Oil Stadium to make it appear full.
“Let’s …. go!” Suggs screamed after he received fouled on a layup early within the second half. He missed the free throw.
However greater than something within the title recreation, it was Suggs’ memorable basket two nights earlier that laid the groundwork for this one. His financial institution shot on the buzzer capped some of the riveting faculty basketball video games ever. Again on the ground about 46 hours after that emotional curler coaster, it was clear the Zags had been gassed.
The sequence that greatest illustrated the power hole happened six minutes into the competition when Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua slapped the ball out of Drew Timme’s fingers and the Bears labored the ball forward to Mitchell. He missed a layup, however Tchamwa Tchatchoua received the offensive rebound and fed Adam Flagler for a 3.
Gonzaga was virtually simply standing there for all of it.
This was one of many most-anticipated finals in latest historical past, a gathering of the 2 greatest groups from the final two seasons — this one and 2020, when COVID-19 scrapped the motion earlier than match time. They had been scheduled to satisfy this season in Indy, on Dec. 5, however a COVID-19 outbreak on the Gonzaga staff ended these plans.
However the recreation didn’t dwell as much as the hype, and it was out of hand early.
Baylor had 9 offensive rebounds within the first half that led to 9 second-chance factors, and wore down the Zags on protection. Gonzaga shot 54% from the ground over the primary 20 minutes however Baylor had 16 extra makes an attempt — the type of math that doesn’t add up for a staff taking part in within the title recreation.
One glimmer of hope for the Zags got here when Tchamwa Tchatchoua joined one other Baylor huge man, Flo Thamba, on the bench with 4 fouls with 14:43 left.
Andrew Nembhard’s basket on the subsequent possession minimize Gonzaga’s deficit beneath double digits for the primary time since early. Baylor answered with a 9-2 run punctuated by Mark Important’s rejection of Corey Kispert, then a quick break that led to a simple Three from Flagler.
It was over from there. Sure, Gonzaga might need been the 12 months’s most watchable staff with its dramatic run at perfection, to say nothing of the shot of the match.
But it surely was Baylor, not Suggs, leaping on prime of the scorer’s desk and cheering for the followers. And people had been the Bears slicing down the nets.
This marked the fruits of an 18-year rebuild, the likes of which no program has ever seen.
Drew took over a roster with solely seven scholarship gamers and a staff gazing years of NCAA probation within the wake of the homicide of participant Patrick Dennehy by a teammate in 2003. The Bears gained solely 21 video games over Drew’s first three years.
It took a whole lot of creativeness and greater than just a little religion to consider a day like this may occur.
It took the identical factor to hold a loss on the Bulldogs.
However that type of loss? Solely Baylor may’ve seen that one coming.