Bears overcome slow start for 24-point win over Hartford

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19: in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament held at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 19, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

By Matthew Soderberg | Editor-in-Chief

Baylor began its NCAA tournament run Friday afternoon with a 79-55 win over No. 16 seed Hartford. The Bears move on to their fifth trip to the Second Round under Scott Drew.

Both offenses started slow. Through the first ten minutes, the combined score was only 23, but after the Hawks took a 14-13 lead with 7:51 left in the first half, the Bears ignited for a 24-7 run to close the half with a 16-point lead. Head coach Scott Drew said his team was finally able to be at ease after a dunk by sophomore forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua with 7:33 left focused the team.

“I thought the nerves kind of calmed down, and we were able to get in transition, and the guards were sharing the ball well,” Drew said. “Once we got a couple breakaways, [Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua] had that dunk, and I thought the guys started to relax and get a lot more comfortable.”

Senior guard MaCio Teauge led all scorers before the break with 11, and junior guard Jared Butler supplied nine points with four assists and three boards. Drew said even when Butler doesn’t take over a game with his scoring, he still knows how to contribute for a win.

“Jared [Butler] finished with nine assists. He didn’t have a great shooting night, but we’ll take nine assists and five steals any day of the week,” Drew said. “Jared did a great job knowing that MaCio [Teague] was starting to feel it and find not only the open guy but the hot guy, and at the same time, one good thing about Jared is he doesn’t stay cold, so usually if he’s off shooting one night, he’s on the next.”

The second half started with runs. Baylor scored the first six points to extend the lead to 22, then Hartford cut the lead to 13, and then reextended the lead to 23 thanks to threes by Teague, junior guard Davion Mitchell and junior wing Matthew Mayer.

Baylor slowly extended its lead to 29 by the 2:39 mark, and it rolled to a victory after a dominant 38 minutes of basketball. Teague said the slow start could be attributed to the break since their last game in the Big 12 tournament.

“It was our first game in about five or six days since we lost to Oklahoma State, so we’ve been in the hotel a lot,” Teague said. “We’ve been off our feet for a pretty long time, and it’s just a new environment that we’re not used to, so it was a good game to get adjusted to … the tournament.”

Aside from Teague’s 22 and Butler’s 13, Mitchell and sophomore guard Adam Flagler each scored 12 in the win. Drew said it was great to see Flagler contribute in so many parts of the box score after a quiet run to finish the regular season.

“Adam [Flagler] got in a nice rhythm, had some good looks and what I really liked was he had three offensive rebounds and two steals,” Drew said.

The Bears will be back on Sunday to face off against the winner of North Carolina and Wisconsin. The location, time and broadcast location have yet to be determined.