I don't think it is possible to overreact to this win. I really don't. This was a fantastic win for the Bears. They finally got over the hump against an elite team, at the best time. Baylor played a great game on both ends of the court. This was truly a team win in every sense.
"This was the Baylor team the nation expected this year" will be the words of sports writers, pundits and fans this evening. The Baylor Bears played up to their potential tonight, and beat a very good Kansas Jayhawks team. Behind a man defense for all but 1 possession, the Bears controlled the Big 12 player of the year, Thomas Robinson to just 15 points on 6-14 shooting and 4 turnovers.
The man defense also stopped the 3-point shooters of Kansas and held them to just 2-13 from behind the arc. That is great defense, as they really forced the Jayhawk shooters off the arc. They let some dribble penetration through, but our bigs rotated well and helped each other to stop most of it. Just a great defensive game.
Offensively, the Bears used a balanced attack with 6 guys in double digit scoring. Perry Jones again led the team in scoring with 18 points. He had 10 at halftime, but really struggled for the first 10-15 minutes of the 2nd half. It was not a coincidence that Kansas went on their big run (told you it was going to happen). The difference this game though, the Bears stopped the run.
The Bears led 51-38 at the 17:24 mark. Kansas went ahead 58-56 with just 10:18 left on the clock. The Bears though would get the lead back on a Brady Heslip 3-pointer, 59-58 and would never relinquish it again. Baylor was now the team on a run, and scored 22 points in the next 9 minutes to just 14 for Kansas. Defense was the key to the run, with some very timely 3-pointers from Heslip.
At the 2:07 mark and the Bears up just 3, Brady hit another one to extend the lead to 6. And then the dagger happened on the very next possession Brady hit another one to push the lead to 7 and put the game out of reach. Brady rose to the occassion every time and finished the game hitting his last 3 shots.
So what did the Bears do in this game that they did not do in their other games against top tier teams? They responded to the physicality and the runs in this game. I think the Bears got very uncomfortable in previous games when Kansas or Missouri would make their runs. No other team really did that to them this year. They didn't know how to respond.
In previous games, we would slow the game down by dribbling the ball at the half court line and then making a rushed offensive play in the last 10-15 seconds. In this game, we slowed it down by attacking the rim and trying to get to the foul line. While we did not get many calls during the big run, the tone was set and we kept attacking.
The attacking tone was set on both sides of the court. The Bears really fought for post position against Jeff Withy and Thomas Robinson. Quincy Acy and Perry Jones III led the defensive charge. Both played fundamental defense for most of the games, and won more battles than they lost.
Withey and Robinson shot just 9-24 for 26 points and 16 rebounds. Compare that to Quincy Acy and Perry Jones III combining for 11-27 shooting for 28 points and 13 rebounds. The Bears at least held their own in the paint, unlike the first two games.
So many Bears had big games. A.J. Walton continued to show some life on the offensive side of the court with 12 points off the bench. Deuce Bello came in and played a huge 14 minutes of really good defense on Tyshawn Taylor, holding him a 20 points and 4 assists. That is actually an improvement over the first two games against the Bears.
Pierre Jackson played a great floor general type game, getting 7 assists with only 2 turnovers plus 13 points. That is a good stat line for him with the amount of weapons we have. Quincy Miller was one of those weapons tonight, after struggling a bit the past few games. He started off the game very well with 9 points in the first half and finished with 13 overall.
So much can be said about this win. There were so many key plays on both sides of the court. The only thing that matters though is that the Bears got a big monkey off their back and are playing some really good basketball at the right time of year.
It must be the jerseys....