Three Thoughts on Baylor’s 67-64 Win Over Arkansas
The Baylor Bears beat the Arkansas Razorbacks, 67-64, at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, on Saturday. Here are three thoughts on this Big 12-SEC Challenge game.
No. 17 Baylor (17-5, 6-3 in Big 12) beat Arkansas for the second straight time, with the last meeting coming in the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, during which the Bears won the national championship.
Arkansas (14-7, 3-5 in SEC) saw its two-game winning streak snapped and the Razorbacks have now lost five of their last seven games.
How Baylor Won
Baylor did not shoot well for the majority of the game, finishing at 34 percent from the field. But the Bears got hot at the right time, thanks to Keyonte George, who had a game-high 24 points.
The game was tied 53-all with 3:37 left. After Flo Thamba made a pair of free throws to break the tie, George hit a floater off a screen, then scored a layup against contact and later drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Bears a seven-point lead with 1:19 left. It was the end of a 13-2 Baylor run that put it in control but didn’t necessarily lead to a cruise down the stretch.
Arkansas cut the lead to as little as a point in the final minute but Baylor’s free-throw shooting rode to the rescue. The Bears were in the bonus with less than seven minutes gone in the second half, and their free-throw shooting was great all afternoon. The Bears shot 21-of-24 from the line and the Bears went 5-for-6 from there in the final minute.
LJ Cryer had another great game for Baylor, scoring 20 points, while Jalen Bridges added 10 points. Baylor made up for its struggles from the floor by forcing 15 Arkansas turnovers, turning them into 13 points and edging out the Hogs on the offensive glass, 15-10.
How Arkansas Lost
Arkansas shot better than 60 percent from the field in the first half and ended up shooting 51 percent for the game. Yet, their quality shooting in the first half only led to a six-point lead, one that Baylor was eventually able to erase. The turnovers were problematic, though Arkansas did a much better job protecting the ball in the second half. The Razorbacks’ field-goal percentage went down in the second half, too (43.3 percent to Baylor 46.2 percent).
But, Arkansas’ ability to hit shots early helped as it was able to overcome Baylor’s early lead and take one of its own at the break.
What slowed Arkansas down in the second half was Baylor’s use of a zone, something they’ve used more frequently as a change-of-pace defense. It helped slow down Razorbacks forward Ricky Council IV, who had 25 points despite that. Davonte Davis added 16 points, and he hit some key baskets down the stretch.
The Bears said that Arkansas’ overall length as a team gave them trouble, and that’s reflected in Arkansas’ edge on the defensive glass (25 to 20) and its edge in points in the paint (34 to 22). Still, Arkansas managed only five second-chance points to Baylor’s 12.
Fouling Up Three
With Baylor up three points with less than 10 seconds left, Baylor coach Scott Drew had a choice to make — foul up three or allow the Razorbacks to take a 3-pointer to try and tie.
In the past, Drew has said that it’s a case-by-case situation as to whether to foul up three. In this case, he went ahead and had LJ Cryer foul Davis at halfcourt before Davis could even get into a shooting motion. That sent Davis to the free-throw line. He missed the shot intentionally and Arkansas managed to tip it out to Joseph Pinion for a baseline 3-point attempt as time expired. He missed.
Drew said afterward he had never seen a tip play quite like that one.
“I mean, that was a 51-49 call to be honest,” Drew said. “The reason why was because they got two offensive rebounds where they got put-backs so, I mean, that was concerning. But it felt right. So I went with my gut. After that corner three went up it didn’t feel so good, but sometimes it’s better to be blessed and lucky than good.”
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard