Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell co-authored a dominating first half as top-seeded Baylor rolled to a 78-59 victory over second-seeded Houston in the first national semifinal of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Butler scored 14 points during one six-plus-minute stretch in the first half en route to a team-high 17 points while Mitchell recorded seven of his 11 assists — a program postseason record — as Baylor (27-2) raced to a 25-point halftime lead. By suffocating the Cougars (28-4) defensively and limiting their influence on the offensive glass, Baylor earned a place in the national final Monday against either Gonzaga or UCLA.
Mitchell tallied 12 points to post a double-double while Matthew Mayer added 12 points off the bench. MaCio Teague and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua scored 11 apiece for the Bears, who posted a 33-28 rebounding edge and advanced to their first championship game since 1948.
Marcus Sasser scored 20 points for the Cougars, who shot 38.2 percent from the field. The Bears shot 52.7 percent.
Baylor seized control with a 16-3 run midway through the first half, doing so largely without Butler, whose 3-pointer with 10:43 left was just his second field goal yet stretched the lead to 22-11. Butler then caught fire, adding a three-point play with 8:35 left in the half, back-to-back 3s and a layup with 4:09 left to complete his individual surge.
Mitchell, meanwhile, scored twice inside the final minute of the half, and his 3-pointer just before the buzzer gave Baylor a 45-20 lead.
The Cougars were overmatched outside of Sasser, who scored 17 points prior to the intermission. Houston went more than six minutes without a field goal between two Sasser baskets and, excluding Sasser, shot 1 of 15 with nine turnovers in the first half.
Quentin Grimes and DeJon Jarreau, integral cogs for the Cougars offensively, were a combined 1 for 12 with six turnovers in the first half. Baylor, meanwhile, shot 16 of 28.
Houston fashioned a 12-3 run early in the second half, with Grimes’ stepback jumper cutting the deficit to 52-36 with 13:06 remaining. But Baylor remained in complete control down the stretch.
Grimes finished with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting to join Sasser in double figures for Houston, which was participating in its first Final Four since 1984.
–Field Level Media