Baylor Throttles Creighton 85-55

Baylor Throttles Creighton 85-55

The nation's leading scorer was stymied and Baylor's offense exploded to lead the Bears to the Sweet 16 for the third time in five seasons.

SAN ANTONIO – It was obvious that Baylor was hitting its stride at the right time. The Bears were a hot pick to perhaps win a couple of games in the NCAA Tournament.

But to come into San Antonio and wallop higher-ranked Creighton by 30 points? No one expected that.

"It was just awesome," forward Rico Gathers said. "We established our post play early and we opened up with the outside shooting. Everybody was able to get what they wanted tonight."

Baylor frustrated Creighton superstar Doug McDermott with their zone and used a complete offensive performance to move on to their third Sweet Sixteen in five years following an 85-55 win over No. 16 Creighton.

Baylor came out and punched Creighton in the mouth right away. Senior power forward Cory Jefferson attacked Creighton's defensive twice in the first minute. Creighton tied the game at 7-7, but Baylor went on a 19-2 run over the next seven minutes to push their lead to 26-9. Brady Heslip, Kenny Chery and Royce O'Neale combined for four three-pointers over that span.

Chery, Heslip and O'Neale combined to make 10 straight threes to open the game.

"We chose to come off some of their guards rather than the big-to-big double early," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "To their credit, Chery and O'Neale really made us back to that. They knocked us back on our heels and we weren't able to really ever recover."

Between the 16:34 mark and 8:14 mark of the first half, the most efficient offense in the country could muster only a single field goal. The Bluejays shot 1-for-9 over that stretch, including multiple misses from McDermott and sharpshooter Ethan Wragge.

Creighton made a run to cut the lead to 13 with 6:14 left in the half, but Baylor punched right back with an 11-4 run, capped off by a put-back layup from sophomore center Isaiah Austin to give Baylor a 40-20 halftime lead.

McDermott, the likely National Player of the Year, mustered only three points against the Bears in the first half on four shots. He was limited to 16 minutes in the first half by foul trouble.

"We just wanted to make sure we were there before he actually caught the ball," Jefferson said. "We know he gets it up quick and we wanted to make sure we were there before he could even think about it."

Creighton tried to strike back, but could not find any consistent offense and were incredibly porous defensively. The Bears shot a hefty 63.6 percent in the first half, but improved to 64 percent in the second. The Bears were even more dominant inside the three-point arc, where they shot 12-for-16 in the half.

Outside of a few garbage-time buckets from McDermott, Creighton shot only 33.3 percent from the field in the second half. Again, this is a team that usually shoots almost 50 percent from the field and 42 percent behind the arc.

Austin had an efficient game with 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Jefferson added 14 points on only eight shots. Sophomore forward Rico Gathers made the most of his 16 minutes, finishing with nine rebounds while helping Baylor outrebound the Bluejays 32-22.

Creighton shot 40 percent on the night and 20.8 percent from the three-point line where they usually live. McDermott scored 15 points, but many of them were in garbage time with the game decided. Guard Austin Chatman was the only other Bluejay in double-figures.

McDermott, the leading scorer in college basketball, struggled all night against the Baylor zone. He finished with 15 points and two rebounds.

"You know, it's something you can't really practice until you see it for the first time," McDermott said. "Those guys are really long. You can kind of compare them to John Henson who we struggled against in the Tournament a few years ago."

Creighton's coach was incredibly complimentary of the adjustments made defensively to contain his son.

"It was a different zone than they played all year," Coach McDermott said. "They spread out a little bit, especially when Doug was on the top of the floor, and then they shrunk it when we ran Doug to the middle of the floor."

With the win, Baylor has won 12 of their last 14 games. Their only losses since Feb. 26 have come against Iowa State.

The Bears will play two-seed Wisconsin on Thursday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

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