Another big early deficit, another comfortable win. Baylor handled Michigan State 73-58. The Bears have found something in the second half in the Bahamas and are now one game away from winning the tournament.
The Bears were down 26-16. And then Scott Drew reminded the world he can coach. The Bears switched to man-to-man defense, and the Spartans were stalled. Baylor entered halftime down just three.
Seriously the rest of our team not named Motley is shooting 23.6% and we're down 3 to Michigan State. I'm ok with this.— david fankhauser (@dfank_BU) November 24, 2016
But the big story of the game is Johnathan Motley. Motley dropped 20 in the first half. And in the second half, his presence opened up other options. Motley finished with 26 points.
Manu Lecomte finally got going. After his worst game as a Bear against VCU, Lecomte hit a number of big shots in the second half. Lecomte also finished with seven assists, including this one:
Nearly everyone provided something today. Jo Lual-Acuil was efficient in the second half, ending up six of seven from the field with 14 points. Terry Maston provided additional work in the post, and Al Freeman sliced the defense. Jake Lindsey entered the game as the Bears switched to man-to-man and made sure Motley got the ball. Ish Wainright made a huge save as the Bears trailed early in the first half, and the Bears seemed to feed off that energy for the remainder of the game. Wainright continued to feed Motley on the way to his eighth assist day.
Big Jo Lual-Acuil is a revelation for Baylor. Gives them best front line in @Big12Conference. Hands have improved dramatically.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) November 24, 2016
Baylor did a brilliant job avoiding turnovers. A day after having 11 turnovers in the first half against VCU, the Bears finished with just seven against the Spartans.
After Michigan State started five of eight from three, they hit only one of their next 12 attempts from the perimeter. The man-to-man defense suffocated Michigan State. The Spartans open looks became shot clock violations and turnovers. A Michigan State team that entered the season as a final four contender just played one that is.
With their win, the Bears will face the winner of Wichita State-Louisville tomorrow. The game is at 2:30. It will air on ESPN or ESPN2. We’ll let you know when a decision is made on that front. In the interim, we dance: