Baylor beatdown: Bears win title, hang 86-70 loss on Gonzaga

Baylor players and coaches celebrate after the championship game against Gonzaga in the men’s Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 5, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Baylor won 86-70. | Darron Cummings, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Heck, everyone’s entitled to an off night. But that beatdown Baylor put on undefeated Gonzaga with the national title on the line — nobody saw that coming.

The fresh-as-can-be Bears obliterated wobbly-legged Gonzaga’s march to perfection Monday night in an 86-70 runaway that brought this once-downtrodden program’s first national title back home to Waco, Texas.

Jared Butler scored 22 points and MaCio Teague had 19 for the Bears (28-2), who were ranked second or third in the AP poll all year long — but never first, all because of one team.

Pounding the offensive glass and scrapping for — and winning — the lion’s share of the 50-50 balls, Baylor never let this one come down to a Jalen Suggs miracle. The Gonzaga freshman’s buzzer-beater from near the half-court logo got the Zags to the final in a game that stood as their first true test of the season.

They passed against UCLA. Against Baylor? Not even close.

After running to a 19-point lead early, the Bears never let Gonzaga get any closer than nine. Butler made four 3-pointers and added seven assists, and was named the Final Four’s most outstanding player.

“They came out, they fed off each other, we got off to a great start and defensively, we’re pretty good,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

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Sure are.

Guard Davion Mitchell — nicknamed “Off Night” because so many opponents encounter one when they go against him — finished with 15 points and did his best on Suggs. The freshman finished with 22 points — most of them after the Zags were well into desperation mode — and likely will be heading to the NBA lottery next.

Gonzaga’s first loss in 32 games this season — 36 dating to 2019-20 — leaves Indiana’s 1975-76 team as the last to go undefeated. If Bob May, Quinn Buckner and the rest of coach Bob Knight’s team were keeping champagne cold to celebrate — a la the perfect ’72 Miami Dolphins — they could’ve uncorked it by halftime.

Or sooner.

Baylor was up 9-0 after 2 1/2 minutes and the Bulldogs faced only their fourth double-digit deficit of the season at 11-1. They faced their biggest deficit of the season — 15 points — with 7:10 gone. By then, Suggs had two fouls and was watching from the bench.

He tried hard to breathe some fire into his teammates, or the Zags fans — who made about as much noise as the cardboard cutouts that were scattered through Lucas Oil Stadium to make it seem full.

“Let’s …. go!” Suggs screamed after he got fouled on a layup early in the second half. He missed the free throw.

But more than anything in the title game, it was Suggs’ memorable basket two nights earlier that laid the groundwork for this one. His bank shot at the …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

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