Baylor fans who have been around a while have a creeping sense of dread in the big moments. At least, this fan does.
A 1v16 game with a short rotation, coming off a loss to Oklahoma in the first round of the Big XII Tournament, injuries and nagging aches, potential for an off-shooting game against a defensive minded team that doesn’t mind being physical. My warped mind can always find the way to lose.
Clearly, these Baylor Bears don’t have that.
James Akinjo recorded the fourth points-assists double-double game by a Bear in the NCAA Tournament, joining Davion Mitchell and Pierre Jackson, scoring 10 points and 10 assists in the 85-49 victory over the Norfolk State Spartans.
The Bears had 24 assists on 31 makes, a 77.4% assist rate, a full 20% over their season average. Baylor had no trouble at all swinging the ball around and finding the open man through constant movement on and off the ball. Norfolk State simply was not big enough or athletic enough to hang with the Big XII champs.
Matthew Mayer led Baylor with 22 points on 12 attempts, going 4-7 from three in perhaps his most complete game of the season. If he can finally get his offense rolling in the Tournament, Baylor’s ceiling could suddenly be back-to-back national titles.
Despite some foul trouble early as Baylor adjusted to playing in a non-Big XII reffed game, there’s no real criticism to level. Everyone had gaudy stats (the team shot 57% for the game; Norfolk State shot 32%), Jordan Turner grabbed 6 rebounds and 6 points in 10 minutes of play, and Akinjo was the only Bear to play more than 27 minutes. That last part is a good sign for fresh legs in Saturday’s matchup against the winner of the North Carolina - Marquette game later tonight.
This afternoon, Baylor looked like a dominant No. 1 seed. On Saturday, they have the chance to do that again.