No. 1 Baylor (17-1) rolled Florida (12-7) 72-61. The Bears take on Iowa State at 8:00 on Wednesday in Ames.
Florida appeared unstoppable early. The Gators raced out to 17-9 lead. Florida, despite not being the country’s No. 1 ranked team, entered the game as a two point favorite. It seemed the Gators’ hot shooting would make Vegas look smart. They were averaging 1.75 points per possession eight minutes into the game, which is the equivalent of an 85% free throw shooter taking two shots.
Baylor—playing without Tristan Clark tonight as he sat out because of his knee injury—took control though. Jared Butler had eight points before a second first half foul led him to spend most of the half on the bench. Devonte Bandoo went 2-of-3 from deep in the first half and finished with 16, and MaCio Teague hit a couple triples as well; he had 16 points. The Bears entered halftime up 42-31.
Mike White’s squad tried to throw several defense to slow down Baylor. None of them worked. They tried trapping. Davion Mitchell drilled a three. They threw full-court press at the Bears. Teague heaved an 80 foot pass to Mark Vital for a layup.
The Bears went through a small drought in the second half. They went nearly four minutes without a basket. Freddie Gillespie, Butler and Mitchell missed some quality looks. Kerry Blackshear went to the line on a 1-and-1 with the chance to cut Baylor’s lead to 10. But he missed the front-end, and Matt Mayer nailed a floater to give a Baylor a 14 point edge with seven minutes left.
Unlike some of their other impressive wins this season, Baylor managed to hold a solid lead. Florida missed their next two 1-and-1 opportunities, and Teague drew a foul and made both. He made a step-back jumper on the next possession.
Baylor had a little trouble with Florida’s press late. The Bears turned the ball over once late, and they had to use a timeout on another. Up 10 with 2:15 left, Butler launched a jumper and then grabbed his own rebound. Florida fouled Bandoo, and he made both free throws to give Baylor a 12 point lead.
This was a good offensive performance for the Bears. After struggling from deep against Oklahoma, Baylor went 9-of-19 from beyond the arc and made their first 12 free throws (they finished 15-of-16 there). Florida started just 3-of-15 from deep. While Baylor’s relied on their top five defense, some nights—like tonight and against Villanova—a team’s offense has to carry them.