Behind a strong defensive effort in the first half, Baylor (8-4) knocked off Oregon (8-4) 57-47. Baylor plays New Orleans at 5:00 on December 29th in Waco.
The Bears stymied Oregon’s offense in the first half. The Ducks went 11 minutes without a field goal. Late in the half, Oregon had two made field goals and nine turnovers. Oregon—playing without future lottery pick Bol Bol—struggled to figure out Baylor’s zone. The Bears collapsed off the perimeter and secured turnovers. They also made it tough for Oregon to drive, and Oregon couldn’t hit shots over Tristan Clark and Mark Vital near the hoop. The Ducks scored just .52 points per possession (PPP) in the first half. That mark is much worse than the nation’s worst offense averages (.86).
Baylor couldn’t quite pull away in the first half. The Bears scored just .9 PPP. Baylor worked to get the ball to Clark—a noted improvement after the team’s best player had just nine shots in a loss against Stephen F. Austin. But Baylor had a series of awful turnovers and once again, couldn’t make too many outside shots. But King McClure hit a couple of threes and Makai Mason made a deep triple as Oregon made a run. The Bears ended the half up 28-16.
J.B. does it again! No-look dish for a Tristan Clark dunk. Bears lead 42-34, 8:23 to play. #SicOregon | #1TGF pic.twitter.com/dz6XRdClT0— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) December 22, 2018
Unfortunately, Oregon started making shots in the second half. After Baylor built a 37-23 lead, Payton Pritchard made back-to-back threes. The Bears struggled with Oregon’s press, turning it over twice in that span. The Ducks then brought it to 39-34, buoyed by a 7-of-9 start from the field and 3-of-4 shooting from deep.
Mason, Clark and the Bears responded. Clark had a nice pass out of a double team, and then got the ball back for a dunk. He finished with 13 points on 10 shots. Mason hit a three not long after to extend Baylor’s lead to 45-35 at the under eight timeout.
Mark Vital left the game with an injury with 6:40 left in the game. He was whacked in the face going for a rebound and then limped to the locker room. He finished with 11 points and eights rebounds.
Oregon keyed a 7-0 run around the injury. That brought the game to 45-42. The Ducks’ pressure limited Baylor’s offense, and they had several opportunities to tie the game. They couldn’t, as Baylor’s defense came up with three big turnovers.
Baylor’s senior leaders took over late. McClure drew a big foul and made both free throws, then Mason drove the lane and hit a mid-range shot. He also made a nice running layup to extend Baylor’s lead to 52-45 with 1:15 left. Then Butler took it to the rim to extend Baylor’s lead to 54-45. Oregon would never seriously threaten again.
Jared Butler with a nice spin move for a layup, the Mario Kegler hits 1 of 2 free throws. Bears lead 55-47 with 37 seconds left, BU ball after Oregon's timeout.#SicOregon | #1TGF pic.twitter.com/dA4gL2rNRC— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) December 22, 2018
Beating a power five opponent is always nice. Baylor still has real issues—primarily their inability to make shots. But winning is necessary to give Baylor a shot to overcome that issue, and they did that tonight.