The Baylor hopes were bright after the first four minutes of the game. Electricity was in the air, and I am not talking about the uniforms. The Bears were up 10-5, and forced an early timeout by Coach Calipari. Quincy Miller had just hit a 3-pointer, his first since March 3rd and second since February 11th. Miller had 2 blocks and five rebounds as well. The Bears were swarming on defense and challenging shots.
However, this was a short-lived high for the Bears. Kentucky flexed their muscle on both sides of the court, and went on a 16-0 run as part of a 37-12 run to end the half. Baylor struggled to even get shots off as a steady stream of turnovers allowed Kentucky numerous transition opportunities.
The lead would swell to 23 in the second half. This game was dominated by the Wildcats pretty much throughout. The Bears would play better in the last 12 minutes, getting the deficit to a more respectable margin, but this game was never really close.
Baylor's Quincy Acy was the star of the game for the Bears. He was a monster for most of the game, but he just did not get enough help from his teammates until too late. Acy scored 22 points and got 8 blocks, and really played his heart out.
Perry Jones III flashed more of that potential with a very good second half, attacking the basket, getting rebounds and even hitting a 3-pointer. He finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Pierre Jackson finished strong as well, getting 21 points and 5 assists.
Outside of those three players though, the Bears got 10 points on 3-20 shooting. Brady Heslip struggled to even two shots off, hitting one of them. Quincy Miller hit that early 3-pointer, but that would be his only shot made of the game. In fact, Miller contributed only a single rebound and nothing else after that early spurt.
While Baylor was getting contributions from 3 players, Kentucky got 4 players in double figures and 2 other players with 8 points. All 7 of the players for the Wildcats did their job. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led them with 19 points, but it was Anthony Davis who really stole the show. He had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks. The Wildcats kept getting him good looks by getting the ball into the lane and making the Baylor defender leave Davis for open layups or dunks.
Keys to the Game:
1.Make them double our post players
Kentucky did double Perry Jones III early, but he was never in a deep enough position to cause open shooters to get wide open. Outside of that, Kentucky single covered our post players, and stuck with our shooters. This tactic allowed Acy and Jones III to combine for 39 points, but held the rest of our team pretty quiet till late, when Pierre Jackson went on a bit of a spurt.
2. Surprise Contributors
As we already discussed, the Bears received no contributions of note outside of Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy and Pierre Jackson. Not only did we not get a boost from a unusual contribution, we did not get close to enough from Quincy Miller and Brady Heslip on offense.
3. No Long-Droughts
How do droughts of 5 minutes, 3 minutes, and four minutes sound. Each of those time frames in the first half, the Bears went scoreless. The Bears did a much better job in the 2nd half, going through just 1 extended drought (2 minutes, right after we got it to a 13 point deficit).
4.Limit Turnovers and Fastbreak Points
13 fast break points and 10 points off of turnovers in the first half really sunk the Bears chance to stay in this game. The Bears turned it over 9 times in the first half and 14 times for the game. Baylor just turned the ball over way too much in the first half, and that allowed Kentucky to get into a comfort zone and get some easy buckets. At one point, they made 11 straight shots, while the Bears could get nothing going on the other end.
5. Make shots
Baylor shot just 39.1% from the field and 28.6% from the 3-point line. They did shoot well from the free throw line, ending up 16-19. I give most of the credit on the shooting though to Kentucky. Their defense was exceptional and they are so long and athletic that they can challenge shots from all over the court. We can match them in the front court, but their guards just physically dominated our diminutive back court of Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip.
Baylor got very few open looks and really struggled in the first half to get even decent looks. Several times, the Bears would get past the Wildcat guards and just run into a wall of white and blue on their way to the hoop. Their rotation defense was excellent all game, and only occasionally did the Bears find the open man.
On a Personal Note:
I have some news to share with you guys. This will be my last post here at ODB. I have accepted a position with Baylor's Scout site, BearsIllustrated.com. I want to thank Mark for the chance to write here for the last few months. Thank you all here that commented and argued and cheered with me the past few months. It has been a very fun ride this year with the Bears and you guys.