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Baylor Basketball

Baylor sent packing after South Carolina gets best of Bears 70-50

March 24, 2017

New York — After building its resumé off a 22-point comeback over Louisville in November, there’s been an expectation Baylor can overcome just about any deficit. So as South Carolina took a 21-point lead, building off its 15-point lead at halftime like the Louisville game, a comeback was in the back of the Bears’ minds to advance to the Elite Eight.

It wasn’t meant to be. As coach Scott Drew said coming out of halftime, Baylor couldn’t buy a shot (although, that’s probably something Waco bars were probably selling plenty of during the second half).

Despite coming into the game with great familiarity with former Kansas State coach Frank Martin and facing the similarly styled West Virginia, Baylor had few answers for the Gamecocks’ aggressive play. In the end, the scoreboard read 70-50 South Carolina.

Coming out of the gate, Baylor struggled to make an impression that it read up on South Carolina. The Bears were immediately overpowered at both ends of the court with the Gamecocks swarming the ball, leading a majority of shots being contested that helped push USC to an early lead that Baylor wouldn’t overcome until 10 minutes passed to hold a 15-13 lead following back-to-back Johnathan Motley shots.

If the score at the time wasn’t low enough thanks to a barrage of turnovers from both sides, Martin’s team cut loose for the rest of the half to go on a 16-point run led by SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell over the next six minutes of play. During that span, Baylor missed nine consecutive shots and had four of its 16 turnovers- ultimately unable to capitalize on the three takeaways.

Digging the hole further was the rare time Baylor was beat around the glass. Baylor had typically made up for a poor shooting by creating opportunities with rebounds but the Bears trailed the Gamecocks 41-36 in that category exacerbated by shooting 30 percent for the night to open up more shots Thornwell and Co.

Just when Baylor looked to start digging out of the proverbial hole, South Carolina would return the favor twofold. Baylor mounted a brief comeback in the second half pulling the game within 11 points thanks to a string of a Manu Lecomte three-pointers and a couple of Al Freeman free throws. But as its become second hat for the Gamecocks this season, Thornwell responded with his own jumper to push the game right back in his team’s favor.

Thornwell ended the night with 24 points shooting 4-of-10 from the perimeter, outdoing Baylor all together shooting 3-of-13 beyond the arc. Baylor’s production from inside didn’t fare much better, making just 30 percent  all together while making 13-of-20 at the foul line.

Motley was one of Baylor’s only saving graces shooting 8-of-17 with 18 points (his 2-of-6 free throws are another story) while Lecomte struggled to be that difference maker from around the arc like he had been most of the year. He made two of the team’s three tree-pointers as Freeman, Ish Wainwright, and King McClure failed to add to the total. Lecomte had just eight points and one assist with most of the passing duties handed to Wainwright with four dishes.

The Bears’ tournament darling in Terry Maston struggled similarly inside. His only two points came off free throws. He missed all seven of his shots from the floor and only rebounded two balls. The only Bear to top five rebounds was Motley.

Despite all that struggle, Baylor matched South Carolina in almost every category, particularly their 16 turnovers and 20 personal fouls each. But South Carolina’s came at the more opportune times, helping win the real battle by shooting 23-of-50 while Baylor sat with 17 baskets in 56 tries, the ultimate difference maker and what has the Gamecocks knocking on the Final Four's door.
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Baylor sent packing after South Carolina gets best of Bears 70-50

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