Bears pull out close win over Arizona

Senior forward Freddie Gillespie goes for a layup during Baylor's 63-58 win over Arizona Saturday at the Ferrell Center. Mireya Sol Ruiz | Multimedia Journalist

By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer

No. 18 Baylor men’s basketball defeated No. 12 Arizona, 63-58 Saturday morning at the Ferrell Center.

The game was dominated by fouls and free throws, as the teams combined for 62 shots from the line.

The Bears led by as many as 18 in the win, but a stagnant offense and aggressive defense opened the door for the Wildcats to close the lead to one. Arizona also benefitted from a five-point play — a made three and a foul by senior guard Devonte Bandoo under the basket that led to two made free throws with 2:12 left to play.

Junior guard MaCio Teague scored 19 and grabbed seven boards, including five offensive, to lead the Bears. Teague also made three free throws in the closing minute and a half, saying the pressure isn’t any different in those big moments.

“It’s just like shooting in the gym when you’re at home,” Teague said. “It’s just like shooting the ball … and nobody’s there and just trying to lock in and find your place at the line.”

With Baylor’s offense struggling, shooting 30% from the field, they had to rely on the defense to get stops. Arizona shot just 27% from the field, including 11% from deep. Head coach Scott Drew said the two squads showed new facets to their abilities on the defensive end.

“Going into the game, both teams so good offensively, you would have thought it’d been more like a Villanova game,” Drew said. “It ended up both teams defensively did an amazing job. We couldn’t buy many from deep and they couldn’t either.”

Senior forward Freddie Gillespie had a career day, shooting 6-8 from the field and 5-7 from the line to go with 13 rebounds and five blocks. Drew said Gillespie stepped up without much help coming from others in the frontcourt.

“We’ll take that every day,” Drew said. “Really pleased with him. When Tristan couldn’t go in the second half and when Mark Vital got in foul trouble … it really put the focus on Freddie and he really anchored us down.”

The win over Arizona is Baylor’s second Top 20 win in the past two weeks. Sitting at No. 18, there’s already buzz around the nation about how good these Bears might be. Drew said he’ll be rooting for the Wildcats from here on out.

“It’s a good resume win for the rest of the year,” Drew said. “Coming into the game, it was a good win for whoever won and it’s not going to be a bad loss for whoever lost. So it’s really one of those games where you get better prepared for conference.”

Baylor’s set up for a quick turnaround into another ranked matchup this week, as the Bears take on #24 Butler at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Ferrell Center. The game will be aired on ESPN2 and streamed on the ESPN app.