Home > Uncategorized > Baylor loses composure, time and game to Yale in another first-round flop

Baylor loses composure, time and game to Yale in another first-round flop

The Baylor Bears entered Thursday’s game in Providence looking to make people forget about their loss to 14th-seeded Georgia State in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tourney. And they may have done it, with an even more underwhelming and puzzling display against the 12th-seeded Yale Bulldogs. 

Before I get to Baylor, Yale deserves a lot of credit, obviously. In a matchup between two teams that really know how to rebound, Yale showed more determination than the bigger and longer Big 12 team, winning the overall battle on the glass, 36-32. They also ripped up Baylor’s zone defense and could always get a layup on a back cut whenever they needed an answer.

Yale guard Makai Mason looked like the very early favorite for darling of the tournament as the 6-foot-1 sophomore tallied 17 points in a first half that included a four-minute stretch where he connected on five consecutive shots. He finished with a career-high 31 points and 11-for-11 from the line.

You would think that an attack heavy on 3-pointers would be Yale’s best course of action against the zone, but the Bulldogs hit just 5 of 16 shots from deep. Instead, they won this game inside and at the free throw line. They made 63.6 percent of their two-point attempts and went 22-for-29 from the stripe. That included making five of six attempts in the final 20 seconds that helped salt away the 79-75 triumph.

Baylor deserved to lose this game; they were outplayed in most aspects of it. But it’s how the Bears lost that will be much-discussed on the highlight shows tonight.

First of all, again, they got pushed around inside despite possessing a significant advantage in length and athleticism. It was similar to what happened during the game that preceded Baylor-Yale in Providence. Duke entered the half trailing UNC-Wilmington. But they came out of the break with energy and fed Marshall Plumlee consistently to exploit its interior advantage. They ended up running away with the game.

Conversely, Baylor led for all of 49 seconds in the latter half and appeared disinterested for long spans of time, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They missed at least 20 shots from close range. They trailed by 13 points with less than seven minutes left. And during that second half, this happened between two of Baylor’s senior leaders.

Up until about the six-minute mark, the Bears showed more fight between each other than versus Yale. Then they began their march back into the game, buoyed by Prince’s 16 points in the second half. Trailing by just four with 1:17 left, Baylor guard Ishmail Wainright created a steal off the inbounds pass and assisted guard Jake Lindsey on a layup that cut the margin to two with 1:14 left.

Or 1:13 … 1:12 …. 1:11 … uh oh.

For some reason, the clock didn’t stop after Lindsey’s basket. Even worse, the refs never saw it nor were they alerted to it. Because of that, Baylor ended up losing 15 extremely critical seconds. Get those back, and we may be talking about a different result. 

Still, down by two with about six seconds left, Baylor had a chance to win it or push this game into overtime. But as senior guard Lester Medford drove into the lane, he lost the ball and, for all intents and purposes, Baylor’s spot in the tourney.

The general sentiment on Twitter after the game appeared to be that this is just what Baylor and head coach Scott Drew do. However, those people must not realize that from 2010-2014, Baylor experienced March Madness three times and didn’t fall short of the Sweet 16 in any of them. They appeared in the Elite 8 twice. For what it’s worth, they won the NIT in 2013.

But coming off of what happened in 2015 and coupling it with Thursday’s effort, complete with lazy defense, a lack of toughness and infighting, the narrative that Baylor will find ways to lose in the NCAA Tournament is firmly set.

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