Baylor (14-1, 4-0) rode Davion Mitchell (17 pts, 6 ast, 3 reb) in an ugly first half before running out to a 19 point lead in the second half once Jared Butler (19 pts, 5 ast, 3-7 3PT) got cooking in the second to beat Iowa State (8-8, 1-3) 68-55.
Iowa State star and NBA prospect Tyrese Haliburton was held in check all night. Scott Drew’s defensive game plan held him to a 2-12 night for 6 points. He found other ways to contribute with 9 assists and 8 rebounds, but none of his teammates was able to make up the scoring difference. No Cyclone scored in double-digits.
In contrast, four Baylor players scored in double figures, led by Butler’s 19 and Mitchell’s 17. Mark Vital had one of his better offensive games with 11 points on 5-9 shooting and 3 offensive rebounds, while Freddie Gillespie contributed 14 points on 6-8 shooting with 6 offensive boards. Gillespie was masterful rolling to the basket, finding space between defenders and making a big target for the guard to find.
Mitchell kept afloat what was an otherwise moribund offense in the first half. The offense generated from his drives were 3-3 from the floor and accounted for 10 of Baylor’s 30 points. Baylor was otherwise 7-26 from the floor and 0-10 from three. The Bears best offense, generally, came either in transition or from opportunities created by dribble penetration. The guards found the roll man in the pick and roll, other drivers from the wing, or created offensive rebound opportunities by attracting multiple defenders. His three free throws to end the half and back-to-back threes to start the second generated the momentum Baylor needed in this game. If you include Mitchell’s free throws with zero time left in the first half, the Bears went on a 13-0 run to open the second half.
Butler’s second half offense expanded Baylor’s lead and took away ISU’s hope of an upset. A nasty crossover on one possession followed by a deep three the next put Baylor up 19. The Cyclones simply had no answer.
Baylor found multiple ways to succeed on offense in the second half. Butler and Mitchell killed ISU with dribble penetration. Those two were consistently able to get into the paint and find open shooters and drivers. They managed to penetrate both in isolation and via the pick and roll. Even if they missed, they drew enough help to create offensive rebound opportunities. The Bears rebounded 17 of their 37 misses, leading to 14 second chance points. Baylor was equally as effective in transition, where Baylor’s bigs consistently beat Iowa State down the floor for easy buckets, including an energizing Vital dunk 5 minutes into the game.
Baylor’s team defense continues to befuddle opposing offenses. Iowa State, the league’s highest scoring offense was held more than 20 points under their season average and an abysmal .873 points per possession. Baylor forced most actions away from the middle and helped well off of the weak side. Much like the Kansas game, sharp rotations and well communicated switching kept the number of open shots at a minimum, especially at the rim.
Baylor succeeded in cresting 1 point per possession, the typical rate of a capable offense, despite a poor start to the game.
Neither team was able to find a rhythm in the first half. ISU shot 36% from the floor and 3-10 from three. Baylor was 35% and 1-11 from deep.
Drew gave Clark some early run, perhaps in an attempt to get him some meaningful minutes in conference play. He wasn’t able to get much going in either half. He still looks to be struggling with explosiveness both vertically and horizontally, likely stemming from his lingering knee issue.
Baylor’s next game comes Saturday on the road against Oklahoma State (9-7, 0-4), who has struggled mightily in conference play, including a 12-point home loss to an equally inept Texas team.