After one day the NCAA Tournament proved hospitable to the Big 12 Conference, as both Baylor and Kansas won their first-round contests.
The No. 9-seeded Bears (20-13) ended a four-game losing streak with a 78-69 win over no. 8 Syracuse (20-14), which was without Frank Howard, who was suspended before the game for a violation of team rules.
Both teams play zone defense — Baylor a 1-3-1 and Syracuse a 2-3. If you can shoot well, you can beat the zone over the top. But what the Bears and Orange did Thursday was historic.
#SicEm outlasts #Orange to win #MarchMadness 1st round game. #Baylor gets #Gonzaga in second round Sat. #Big12MBB now 5-0 in #NCAA #NIT #CBI so far. 28 combined 3’s most in. Non-OT NCAA Tourney game. @Heartland_CS pic.twitter.com/mznDZ467je
— Matthew Postins (@PostinsPostcard) March 22, 2019
Yep. Twenty-eight combined made 3-pointers in this one. Baylor started the game by scoring its first 15 points via the 3-pointer. Four different Bears had at least three 3-pointers — Makai Mason (4), Jared Butler (4), Mario Kegler (3) and King McClure (3). Devonte Bandoo added two.
Mason ended up with 22 points, most of which came in the first half. His injured foot is still giving him considerable trouble. At one point he also took a knee-to-knee hit and had to hit the stationary bike to stay loose during a break from the floor. Butler had 14 and Kegler had 13.
Syracuse was up to the task for the most part. Elijah Hughes made half of Syracuse’s 3-pointers and ended up with 25 points. Tyus Battle added 16 and Oshae Brissett had 14.
Baylor grabbed the lead in the final 10 minutes and didn’t give it back. It was a Butler 3 that broke a 57-57 tie with 9:20 left. From there the Bears maintained the lead, allowing it to slip back to a one-possession lead just one time during that span.
Baylor now faces No. 1-seed Gonzaga on Saturday.
No. 4-seeded Kansas (26-9) put together a great first-round win over No. 13 Northeastern, 87-53, greasing the way for a second-round matchup with No. 5 Auburn on Saturday in Salt Lake City.
This is the kind of game the Jayhawks were hoping to have against Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship game last Saturday. The Jayhawks shot 55.7 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from the 3-point line. Additionally, Kansas shot 91.7 percent from the free throw line. Kansas also owned the glass, 45-28, and allowed just one Northeastern player to score in double figures.
Forward Dedric Lawson, after an inconsistent performance in the Big 12 title game, came roaring back with 25 points and 11 rebounds, including a trio of 3-pointers. Devon Dotson had 18 points, while Ochai Agbaji had 13 points and K.J. Lawson came off the bench to add 13 more points.
The Jayhawks outscored Northeastern, 50-28, in the second half.
On Friday the Big 12 has four teams in action in the NCAA Tournament (all times EST):
No. 9 seed Oklahoma (19-13) takes on Ole Miss (20-12) in a South Region first-round game at 12:40 p.m.;
No. 3 seed Texas Tech (26-6) takes on No. 14 seed Northern Kentucky (26-8) in a West Region first-round game at 1:30 p.m.
No. 4 seed Kansas State (25-8) takes on No. 13 seed UC Irvine (30-5) in a South Region first-round game at 2 p.m.
No. 6 seed Iowa State (23-11) takes on No. 11 seed Ohio State (19-14) in a Midwest Region first-round game at 9:50 p.m.
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