Baylor didn’t give Gonzaga a chance. The most anticipated national championship game in recent memory ended in minutes.
The Bears took a 9-0 lead en route to an 86-70 victory over the Bulldogs to win the first men’s national basketball title in school history. The Baylors ‘victory also ends Gonzagas’ attempt to be the first team since Indiana in 1976 to end the season undefeated.
Just like he did against Houston on Saturday night, Baylor (28-2) punished Gonzaga (31-1) in the first period. The Bears immediately began deflecting passes and making defensive steals and smashing the offensive glass. If Baylor didn’t take a shot in the opening minutes of the game, there’s a good chance he’ll get the offensive rebound.
Only two of Baylors’ possessions in the game’s opening eight minutes ended scoreless thanks to five offensive rebounds. By the time the game reached its second TV timeout, Baylor had a 23-8 lead and Gonzaga star goalkeeper Jalen Suggs had been on the bench for five minutes after catching his second foul just three minutes after the match. start of the match.
“[Baylor] dominated both ends of the ball pretty much all night, ”Gonzaga coach Mark Few told CBS after the game.
Gonzaga made a run to the Bears to end the half, but reduced the deficit to just 10 at the break. A warm start to the second half never materialized either. Baylor started the last half with a three after two offensive rebounds, of course, and was never seriously challenged the rest of the way.
Baylor lives up to its rep of 3
Baylor held a double-digit lead over Gonzaga for more than 20 minutes after Gonzaga reduced the lead to 13-4 in the first half and 58-49 in the second half.
After Gonzaga reduced him to nine with 2:30 to go, Baylor reaffirmed his dominance. The Bears immediately outscored the Bulldogs 9-2 and capped the race with three wide openings from Adam Flagler.
Baylor entered the game as the nation’s top 3-point shooter at over 40%. And the Bears were unstoppable behind the arc, even as Gonzaga even tried to switch to zone defense to slow Baylor down.
Baylor finished the game 10 of 22 of 3 while Jared Butler had 20 points and MaCio Teague 19. Flagler also made his first three 3 points off the bench.
Butler became the first player since Carmelo Anthony in 2003 to have 20 or more points and at least seven assists in a national title game. Mark Vital, meanwhile, finished with 11 rebounds. Eight of them came from the offensive side.
Gonzaga can’t keep up
Gonzaga, meanwhile, just couldn’t keep pace. It was a sentence that did not have a high probability of being typed before the game.
The Zags make over 60% of their two-point field goal attempts and shoot well from inside the arc again. But it’s hard to counter two-by-threes, especially when your opponent is gobbling up offensive rebounds. And Gonzaga dug a hole to start the game with five turnovers before Baylor called their first of the game.
By the time Gonzaga looked like himself, the game was out of reach. And he stayed out of reach. Baylor was adept at getting the mismatches he wanted while Gonzaga was on defense. Drew Timme found himself isolated a lot out of the lane and his fastball movement led to many open lines.
What Baylor did on Monday night looked like an NBA team in many ways. Both in the number of future pros on the pitch and in the way he overwhelmed Gonzaga.
Any chance for Gonzaga to return unofficially ended with 11:35 left as Timme landed his fourth foul of the game on a charge and Baylor took 16.
Gonzaga has been considered the country’s top team for much of the season due to its dominant early-season wins over teams like Kansas, Iowa and Virginia and its unbeaten record. Gonzaga and Baylor were originally scheduled to be played on December 5 in Indianapolis, but the game was canceled hours before it was set to go off due to COVID-19 cases in Gonzaga.
The Zags should however be very good again in 2021-2022. Gonzaga could fire up to three starters and has five-star point guard Hunter Sallis as part of his 2021 recruiting class.
Baylor wins the first Final Four since 1950
Baylor hadn’t been in the Final Four since 1950 until 2021. And it’s easy to see how the program Scott Drew rebuilt won’t last more than 70 years between Final Four appearances.
Baylor have won 20 or more games in 11 of the last 14 seasons with the team. And the Bears have been in the top two of the AP’s top 25 in three of the past five seasons.
It’s a remarkable high given the state of the basketball program before Drew took over. Former coach Dave Bliss resigned in 2003 amid an investigation into numerous allegations in the program following the Carlton Dotsons murder of teammate Patrick Dennehy. Bliss has been accused of paying illegal tuition fees for numerous players, including Dennehy. And the disgraced coach would even make up a story who painted Dennehy as a drug dealer to cover its own actions.
Nearly two decades later, the Bears officially stepped up to beat Big 12 status alongside longtime domineering Kansas. Just look at the recruiting rankings. Baylor is ranked No.11 in 2021. This three-player squad includes five-star rookie Kendall Brown. The Kansas native is the nation’s No. 16 player according to Rivals.
Kansas, meanwhile, is five places lower than Baylor in the standings and does not have a five-star rookie in its category.
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