Rushed Reaction: #3 Baylor 75, #10 Xavier 70Posted by KDoyle on March 23rd, 2012
Three Key Takeaways.
- Baylor’s Defense Was Tough. Yes, you read that correctly. After being scrutinized and maligned for much of the season, especially during Big 12 play, Baylor’s stout defense made life difficult for Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons all night. Although the two scored in bunches in the final minutes — when the bulk of the scoring was done — that would prove to be too little, too late. Scott Drew elected to play man-to-man defense for much of the game, and threw in the zone defense sparingly. More than anything though, it was the sheer length, athleticism, and speed of Baylor that made their defense so effective. It begs the question, with lockdown defenders and such speed, why is a zone defense even necessary?
- Running, Hops, and Flushes. With a flurry of dunks slammed home by Quincy Acy and Perry Jones III, Baylor’s offense replicated a game of Slamball at one point. Many already knew this, but Baylor’s exceptional play in transition confirmed they can run with any team in the nation — even Kentucky; they have the horses and a steady point guard in Pierre Jackson. Conversely, like most transition-oriented teams, Baylor’s offense stalls in the halfcourt for long stretches. When Xavier was able to cut into Baylor’s lead, it was because they limited Baylor’s transition opportunities.
- Kenny Frease Needed More Touches. Xavier got away from what they were doing best—and what got them back into the game — feeding big Kenny Frease the basketball. Frease was 7-10 for the game, and whenever he got a touch something good seemed to happen. The senior from Ohio, who has the physical appearance of one who cuts down trees or wrestles grizzly bears for a living, exploited Baylor’s thin front line. While Jones III and Acy are phenomenal offensive threats and move better than many players with their height, they struggle to defend an opposing post player one-on-one. With Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones looming on the horizon — potentially — this has to be a concern for Scott Drew.
Star of the Game. Pierre Jackson, Baylor. Many will point to Quincy Acy as the star for Baylor—it sure is hard to ignore the several highlight reel dunks he had — it was point guard Pierre Jackson who led Baylor’s fast break and offense to perfection. Jackson had 10 assists to just two turnovers, while knocking down three shots from behind the arc to boot.
Quotable. “Baylor fans have been blessed, the nation’s been blessed, and he is a better person than a player.” — Baylor head coach Scott Drew on the play of senior forward Quincy Acy.
Sights & Sounds. Without question, the most humorous moment during the game ironically had nothing to do with the teams competing on the floor. The loudest the arena got during the game was not after a monstrous dunk or big three, but when the Kentucky band entered the arena. Yes, that is right, the band. Not the basketball team, but the band. Big Blue Nation erupted when a collection of tuba and trumpet players walked out of the tunnel.
What’s Next? Baylor moves onto the Elite Eight where they will play the winner of Kentucky vs. Indiana. Just two years ago, the Bears stumbled at this juncture of the Tournament against Duke, but this is a different Baylor team. Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller were tearing up the AAU circuit, and Pierre Jackson was elsewhere too. Will Scott Drew be able to get over the Elite Eight hump and make it all the way to New Orleans?