Three Key Takeaways.
- Brady Heslip. Quick scouting report: guard him. He doesn’t make it easy for the opposition, running full steam off screen after screen, but when he gets the ball in his mitts with a clean look from deep, it’s as good as in. On Thursday night, he hit five threes from deep in helping the Bears over South Dakota State, but on Saturday he took it to a whole new level, drilling nine-of-twelve from deep against a variety of defenders, almost all of them coming off a screen and knocking down a catch-and-shoot jumper. The Bears don’t beat South Dakota State on Thursday without Heslip, and they probably don’t get out of this round without him either.
- Breaking open a tight one. With 11:12 remaining in the second half, Colorado was up 54-51 and the Bears looked flustered, tentative and about ready to cave in. But, following a missed free throw, Quincy Acy kicked ahead a pass to Heslip for a game-tying three to jumpstart what would turn into a 24-6 run. There were a couple more Heslip threes mixed in there, a nasty Acy dunk, and countless heady plays by junior point guard Pierre Jackson. A game that once looked like a battle to the finish turned into a laugher awful quick.
- Size kills. While Heslip is the big story, and rightly so, it was Baylor’s dominance on the boards that kept the Bears around. While the rest of the team save Heslip combined to shoot a 38.5 eFG%, they put in their time doing work, grabbing 44.7% of offensive rebound opportunities and 77.4% on the defensive end. The most well-known of the Baylor bigs continued to struggle, as Perry Jones registered a quiet seven points and four rebounds, but Acy, Quincy Miller, Anthony Jones and even guard Deuce Bello picked up the slack.
Star of the Game. Brady Heslip. It’s a no-brainer. He led all scorers with 27 points, all on three-pointers. There’s very little else on the stat sheet for Heslip, but when you knock down nine threes, often barely even disturbing the net, there’s little need to do things like pass the ball or grab rebounds.
Sights & Sounds. Of the fans in The Pit who came to support one of these two teams, it is probably not an overestimate to say that 90% of them were supporting Colorado. Baylor came close to filling up their one section they were awarded, but the rest of the place was either CU fans, New Mexico fans or neutral observers. Speaking of Lobo fans, when the game ended and the place cleared out, they turned on the end of the UNM/Louisville game on the big screens and the Lobo fans in attendance stuck around to try to cheer their team back from an 11-point deficit.
What’s Next? Baylor moves on to the Sweet 16 in the Atlanta regional, awaiting a date with either Lehigh or Xavier on Friday. They could be on a collision course with Kentucky, and they may be one of the few teams in the country that matches up athletically with the Wildcats, although Kentucky still has to get by Indiana, one of the two teams to beat them this year, first.