When Jared Butler dunked in the open court to push the lead to 27, there were still 30 minutes left to play in tonight’s game.
It was a near repeat of the game in Manhattan back in December when the Bears led 56-27 at halftime. The margin at the break was slightly lower than that game (54-26 at half), but it felt no less dominant. In fact, as the game wore on into the final minutes, this felt like a statement about what things would look like if Baylor played in the West Coast Conference.
Baylor enjoyed three separate runs of 20+ points tonight, and it came from all over the floor. Davion Mitchell led all scorers with a career high 31 points and in the second half scored 18 straight points for the Bears. He went 7-9 from deep, added 5 assists, and dove to the floor approximately 61 times for loose balls all game long. Mitchell’s previous career high of 22 came against the Wildcats earlier this season. Apparently Baylor’s guards have a thing for playing Kansas teams.
The rest of the team was no less successful. Butler and Teague contributed 13 and 18 points, respectively, and neither played more than 25 minutes. Eleven Bears scored in tonight’s game, four reaching double-figures.
The fourth player to hit double-digits had what was my second favorite play of the game. Matthew Mayer, in pursuit of an offense rebound, went over Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua’s back, dribbled around for a few seconds, then put up a step-back three that rattled home from the top of the arc. Classic Mayer Time.
The ball was live on the offensive end, swinging from side to side on the perimeter, leading to 23 assists on 41 makes, right at the team’s season average assist rate. That rate would have been higher tonight before Mitchell bombed away from three and the Baylor bench played upwards of 5 minutes of play time. Of course, it’s a game like tonight where those sorts of things come easy.
Bruce Weber’s squad was not only outmanned, but out-competed. Against a team like Baylor, who is fueled by individual brilliance and maximum effort, that just won’t due. Kansas State could not execute any part of their game plan, assuming Weber made one after their last shellacking. Baylor had wide lanes to drive through, and shooters kept to open space on the perimeter when the Kansas State defenders were ball watching.
For Baylor’s part, everything was clicking. 60.7% from three on 28 attempts? Check. 57.7% from the floor? Check. 21 turnovers? Check. Frenetic chaos inducing energy on defense? Check. Up nearly fifty but still diving on the floor for loose balls? Triple check.
You’ll find no team in the country as committed to dominance as these Bears.
I mentioned earlier Mayer’s play was my second favorite of the night. My favorite? When walk-on Mark Paterson sprinted down the floor and blocked the heck out of Kasubke, who had more minutes tonight than Paterson has in his career. That’s making your own moment.
Baylor squares up against the Auburn Tigers in Waco on Saturday as part of the Big XII-SEC challenge. The Tigers have a super star point guard in Sharife Cooper, who is averaging 22 points and 8.7 assists in his first 6 games since becoming eligible in January. He’ll be facing the toughest challenge of his career when he faces off against the best backcourt in the country in the Ferrell Center.