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Baylor basketball drops Emerald Coast Classic Semifinal to Ole Miss, 78-70

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-West Virginia v Baylor Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Most of this game was a real defensive struggle on both sides. The Bears looked lost early playing against the Ole Miss man defense. Baylor trailed by as much as 13 before Scott Drew switched the Bears to their signature zone defense. Then, Ole Miss started shutting down offensively. Baylor was able to take advantage of some turnovers and took a one point lead before letting up a free throw and buzzer beating 3 for Ole Miss to lead by 4 at half.

The second half saw the Rebels push their lead to 7 before Baylor tied it back up. The Bears missed a lot of rebounding opportunities where it looked like Baylor’s players were outmuscled. Still, the Bears kept grinding. Baylor couldn’t seem to put together a run for most of the second half, very consistently trailing by 4-6 points. Ole Miss pushed that lead up to 8 late and that proved to be too much for the Bears to come back from.

Baylor certainly had opportunities in this game but there were a number of factors that combined for the Baylor loss. Baylor was out-rebounded 34-31, turned the ball over 18 times, gave Ole Miss 36 free throw attempts, and went only 2 for 17 from three point range. That isn’t a winning combination.

All that being said, there was one bright spot for the team. Baylor’s Tristan Clark had a career high of 27 points in this one and did a great job of positioning himself in the post throughout. Three other Bears finished in double figures, with Makai Mason scoring 18, Matthew Mayer scoring 12, and Jared Butler scoring 11.

Baylor will take on George Mason in the consolation game tomorrow at 3:00 PM CT.