No. 2/1 Bears trounce Huskies in final Vegas bubble game

Baylor's Jared Butler (12) attempts a shot over Washington's Riley Sorn (52) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

Baylor basketball earned its second win of the season, defeating the Washington Huskies 86-52 Sunday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Junior guard Jared Butler led both teams in scoring with 20 points, as the Bears got revenge on the Huskies, who beat Baylor last year in the Armed Forces Classic.

“We felt like we should have won that game last year,” associate head coach Jerome Tang said. “That didn’t sit well. We were thankful that we got an opportunity to fix that.”

It was complete domination for the Bears the entire night, as Baylor jumped out to a 25-5 lead with nine minutes left in the first half and didn’t allow Washington to get much closer.

Sophomore guard Adam Flagler said the fast start could be attributed to Baylor’s stellar defense, which laid the foundation for Baylor’s offense.

“The great start started from defense,” Flagler said. “Defense is the main thing we are always worried about. We executed.”

Tang was pleased with the improvement that Baylor showed on the defensive side of the ball after the Bears gave up 82 points to Louisiana in last night’s contest.

“I’m a happy camper with the effort on the defensive end today,” Tang said. “I was pleased with our guys focus. I thought we were pretty locked in.”

Baylor was able to contain Washington star senior point guard Quade Green, holding him to only two points. Flagler said making Green’s life difficult as a point guard was one of Baylor’s main focus in the game.

“He was an important piece of their team that we put some emphasis on,” Flagler said. “We did everything that we could to make sure he was flustered and out of whack because he is the leader of that team and the engine.”

Baylor continued to trade buckets with Washington until halftime, where the Bears led 38-24. Flagler continued to have a positive impact off the bench, scoring 17 points and hitting five threes.

Baylor’s most significant advantage over Washington came in the rebounding department, where the Bears outrebounded the Huskies 50-15. Senior forward Mark Vital equaled Washington’s rebounding total by himself, grabbing 15 boards of his own.

Baylor continued to further their lead in the second half. A 14-3 mini-run mid-way through the second half firmly put the game away for the Bears, who were able to cruise to the finish.

Sophomore forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua showed encouraging signs of development tonight. Tchamwa Tchatchoua finished the game with 12 points and nine rebounds, one board shy of his first career double-double. Tang was quick to comment on both Tchamwa Tchatchoua and junior forward Flo Thamba’s improved defensive ability.

“They made it tougher for their [Washington’s] bigs to touch the ball in comfortable areas and then when they did touch the ball they did a good job of taking away their strengths,” Tang said. “I felt like they were more locked into the scouting report.”

Baylor will take on two top-ten opponents this week in No. 8 Illinois and No. 1 Gonzaga. Tang said the players are excited for the difficult matchups and the opportunity to play more basketball.

“These guys are going to be excited to play anybody because games are precious right now,” Tang said. “The fact that the teams are highly ranked and have got some really good players, that’s only going to heighten our guys focus.”

The Bears will take on Illinois at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday in Indianapolis. The game will be televised on ESPN.