Rushed Reactions: #12 Yale 79, #5 Baylor 75

Posted by Chris Stone on March 17th, 2016

Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCEastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCSouthregion and @RTCWestregion.

Three Key Takeaways:

Yale's Justin Sears slams one home during the first half against Baylor. (Credit: AP/ Charles Krupa)

Yale’s Justin Sears slams one home during the first half against Baylor. (Credit: AP/ Charles Krupa)

  1. Yale is very fun… and very good. Yale is an entertaining group of basketball players as well as people. Justin Sears is quick-witted at the dais and Brandon Sherrod skipped a year of basketball to sing in an a cappella group, but this team is also very capable of making a run to the second weekend. The Bulldogs are ranked 41st on KenPom, play relentless defense (21st nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency), and rebound the heck out of the ball (third nationally in offensive rebound rate; eighth in defensive rebound rate). Although the Bulldogs lost to Duke back in November, the Blue Devils are vulnerable on the offensive glass, so don’t be surprised to see Yale pull off an upset away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.
  2. Makai Mason is a name to learn. The Yale sophomore led all scorers on Thursday with 31 points in the Bulldogs’ win after shooting 9-of-18 from the field. Mason, along with Sears, led Yale in scoring this year at 15.8 points per game and although he didn’t shoot it well from outside today (2-of-8), he converted 38.4 percent of his threes this season. Mason has proven that he can compete against high-major opponents despite not being recruited in part because he quit playing AAU basketball in high school. For academic reasons, of course. He told the media on Wednesday not to be surprised by how athletic the Bulldogs are, and he was right.
  3. The Big 12’s NCAA Tournament woes continue. After making two Elite Eights in 2010 and 2012 and a Sweet Sixteen in 2014, the Bears have suffered early exits from the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons. It was Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter last year who knocked the Bears out with a late three-pointer, and despite all of the motivation from that first round exit, they’re going home early again. Baylor has put together a number of impressive Big 12 seasons recently, but that success hasn’t translated into the NCAA Tournament.

Star of the Game: Makai Mason. His 31 points fueled the upset and dazzled the crowd plenty of times during the first half with his impressive handle. “I felt in the zone,” he said. Did he ever!


  • “You go up and grab the ball off the rim when it comes off… That’s a rebound.” — Baylor’s Taurean Prince responds sarcastically to a question about how Yale could outrebound the Bears.
  • “It’s a little bit bigger than us. We’ve had everyone and their mother come out and say kind words to us.” — Yale’s Justin Sears on playing so close to campus.
  • “We’ll celebrate tonight. We’re gonna go to Dave & Buster’s.” — Sears, on his plans going immediately forward.

Sights And Sounds: It’s been a while since Yale made the NCAA Tournament. This was the Bulldogs’ first appearance since 1962 and at least one Yale fan chose to express his joy by loudly heckling Baylor’s free throw shooters at every opportunity. His tactics ranged from reverse psychology to encouraging Rico Gathers to speed up his plans to play in the NFL. Generally, though, he was very nice, loudly telling the Bears’ King McClure to, “Step up to the line with confidence!” Hopefully he’s back in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for an encore performance on Saturday.

What’s Next: Yale advances to face Duke in the next round. The Blue Devils, like Baylor, are another offensively-minded team with a suspect defense. Could we be witnessing this season’s Cinderella story in Providence?

Chris Stone (136 Posts)

Chris Stone is a contributor to the Big 12 microsite. You can find him on Twitter @cstonehoops.

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