Sweet. Sixteen. Separately, those two words are kinda useless. Together though, everyone knows what they mean. The Bears are headed to Atlanta to participate in their second Sweet 16 in 3 years.
For most of the game, Brady Heslip was the only guy making shots for the Bears. All of our other players shot just 6-26 from the floor in the first half. Brady shot 6-9 and had 18 of our 37 points. To say he carried us in the first half would be an understatement.
Throughout the first half though, I really liked how Baylor was playing. We were missing good shots and open shots for the most part, and we were attacking the glass and getting put backs, some of which we would miss as well. The shots were they, they just had to start falling.
When the Bears fell behind 54-51 with 11:12 left in the game, a change on the other end of the court helped the Bears on both sides. Drew went to his much-maligned zone defense, and the route was one. Baylor would go on to outscore the Buffaloes 29-9 to finish the game. Everything started to fall for the Bears. It was beautiful.
The Bears zone was buzzing and humming around like we have rarely seen. They forced turnovers and jumped into passing lanes to get transition buckets. They forced long contested shots and then used their length to get the rebounds. Quincy Acy was a monster on the boards and got a game high 10 and Quincy Miller helped out late and ended up with 5.
Keys to the Game:
1. Defend without fouling
Just 12 personal fouls for the Bears, and just 18 Free Throw attempts for Colorado. The Buffaloes averaged over 22 trips to the line a game, so to hold them under that was very solid. The Bears contested shots and ended up with 4 blocks as well. Great job by Baylor in both man and zone of not fouling. However, I think I give more credit to the zone, as the Bears were sometimes not close enough to foul when in their man defense.
2. Speed up the game
The Bears got the ball moving and got it up quick. They attempted 64 shots, and still matched the Buffaloes with 18 free throws. While the shots were not falling for most of the game, their run to the finish helped them end the game shooting 43.8%. Colorado tried just 51 shots, but the Bears showed a bit of a press at times throughout the game to get them going faster than they wanted to.
3. Win the turnover game
Baylor committed just 11 turnovers, but for the first three-fourths of the game, the Bears did not get many turnovers. That changed with the switch to zone, and the Bears ended up getting 13 turnovers, with most of them getting the Bears out in transition late for easy points.
4. Win the rebounding battle
The Bears pounded Colorado all night on the glass, and along with Brady's shooting, were the only reason they were in it the first half. Baylor recorded 40 rebounds, with 17 coming on the offensive glass. They got 16 points off of those second chances. Colorado got just 28 rebounds with only 7 coming on the offensive glass.
Baylor made them pay all night and really fought hard on both ends of the court. Deuce Bello did a great job early keeping some possessions alive and ended up with 3 offensive rebounds. Quincy Acy got a game high 4, and Perry Jones III had a nice put-back layup. Huge win for the Bears in this area.
5. Move the ball
Pierre Jackson did not shoot the ball well at all, especially in the first half. He was just 6-17 for the whole game and finished with 4 turnovers. However, all of those turnovers were before halftime, and in the second half, his passing was very solid. He ended up with 10 assists, as the Bears got 15 as a team. Honestly, they should have ended up with about 5-7 more, as the Bears missed some shots of excellent passes.
The passing was there all night for the Bears, the shot making just came a little later. Ball movement and man movement were impressive all night, and we got the looks we wanted against a solid defensive team. When the Bears play offense like that, it is hard to hold them in check for a full 40 minutes, as the Buffaloes found out. Eighty points and a Sweet 16 trip are a testament to that.