Baylor’s early exit from the Big 12 Tournament was disappointing. It was unexpected. It also may have been the best thing that could’ve happened to the Bears.
It gave them a full week of practice — a week to work on what was ailing them.
“We needed to practice hard,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “We needed to get better.”
After two impressive NCAA Tournament wins, Baylor (24-2) has looked like the team that was arguably the sport’s best prior to its three-week COVID-19 pause in February. The No. 1 seed in the South Region followed up an opening-round, 24-point victory over No. 16 Hartford with a commanding 76-63 win over No. 9 Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Baylor will meet No. 5 Villanova in the Sweet 16 next Saturday or Sunday.
The Bears’ defense, which had struggled late in the regular season, keyed the win. They forced the nation’s leader in fewest turnovers to commit 14, held Wisconsin star D’Mitrik Trice to 5 of 17 shooting and limited the Badgers to 8 of 21 from the 3-point line.
The offensive attack was balanced on Sunday, a strength of the Big 12 regular-season champions. Matthew Moyer scored 17 points off the bench, making big shots in the second half when Wisconsin (18-13) made repeated runs, and Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler each had 16. The ball moved, to the tune of 15 assists on 25 made field goals. The defense turned those 14 turnovers into 16 points.
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