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Three Takeaways from Baylor’s Battle 4 Atlantis Title Win Over Michigan State

Another dub!

NCAA Basketball: Championship-Baylor at Michigan State Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Behind a blistering second half performance, No. 5 Baylor (7-0) knocked off Michigan State (5-2) 75-58. The Bears are 6-0 all-time in the Bahamas. Baylor won the 2016 Battle 4 Atlantis with a 22 point comeback victory over Louisville.

Sparty played pretty well in the first half. Baylor trailed for a lot of the half. But the Bears went on a late run and led 38-36 at halftime.

Baylor elected to full court press some in the second half. James Akinjo intercepted a weak Michigan State pass and drilled a three. If there was any hope for Tom Izzo’s squad, it went away with that make.

Three Takeaways:

1) Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua was Baylor’s best player over the three games- He had 13 points yesterday and played magnificent defense all three days. With Everyday Jon, Baylor can switch pick-and-rolls, which makes it tougher for opponents to get an advantage.

After VCU’s success hard hedging yesterday, Michigan State also defended ball screens that way. Midway through the second half, Kendall Brown ran a side ball screen. Jon slipped to the hoop for a dunk. His speed and strength make him a bucket near the hoop. He did it again with four minutes left and added another dunk.

Before halftime, he showed his skill. He collected the ball and seemed like he was going to travel on the way to the hoop. Not a chance. He worked his length well and laid it up.

2) James Akinjo had a nice second half- Akinjo played poorly yesterday and didn’t have a good first half. But basketball is about responding. Akinjo did.

Beyond his steal mentioned above, he had a magnificent drive in the second half. After spinning, he threw it up to Jeremy Sochan who threw down a slam.

Even in the second half, Akinjo responded to his own mistakes. He took a bad three and missed the hoop as badly as a 40% 3-point shooter will ever miss. On the next possession, he beat MSU off the dribble and completed an and-one opportunity.

3) Baylor was the tougher team- I like talking about analytics and other elements of basketball. Sometimes it just comes down to toughness.

One example—of many—happened with 2:30 left. Adam Flagler drove to the hoop and bounced off a Spartan for a layup. The Bears led by 15, and Flagler has an injury to his non-shooting hand. It would have been okay to just run the clock out. Flagler didn’t.

Baylor forced turnovers and battled on the offensive glass. The Bears went inside and shifted toward the ball. On day three of a three day tournament, Baylor found a reservoir of energy. That bodes well for the rest of the campaign.