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Baylor Basketball

Bears Come Back from 25 Down, Fall to Heels 93-86 in OT

March 19, 2022
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FORT WORTH, Texas — The No. 1 seed Baylor men’s basketball team made the largest comeback in NCAA Tournament history but could not top the No. 8 seed North Carolina Tar Heels in overtime. The final score was 93-86.

The first half quickly got away from the Bears, but Baylor fought back hard in the second half to erase a 25 point deficit and force overtime.

Adam Flagler led the team with 27 points, while James Akinjo finished with 20 points, four rebounds, and five assists.

After what appeared to be a fast start for the Bears thanks to an Adam Flagler bucket and a Kendall Brown steal and slam, things went south quickly.

RJ Davis hit two three-pointers on his way to a career-high 30 points as North Carolin took the lead with a 9-0 run. The Tar Heels did not slow down much from there.

Baylor had glimpses where they could have clawed back some control in the first half, but key mishaps stopped that from happening.

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With the UNC lead at 16-10, Jeremy Sochan drew a charge on Armando Bacot, but Sochan pinned Bacot’s ankle between his legs and was called for a technical foul. Whether that was completely on purpose only Sochan can say, but it cost the Bears two free throws and a possession that turned into a Brady Manek three.

Those five points turned into another 8-0 run for the Heels and set the deficit at 14 points. It changed the course of the whole game.

Then, if that wasn’t enough, Matthew Mayer, who looked to be engaged early, was called for his second foul with 9:25 left in the half. From my view, it was a tough call.

Despite not having Thursday’s leading scorer on the court much for the rest of the half, Baylor closed the gap to seven points multiple times. However, North Carolina kept hitting shots. They went 14-28 from the field and 6-13 from three in the first half, growing their lead to as much as 15.

At halftime, the Bears found themselves down 42-29 and Matthew Mayer had picked up his third foul. Things were bleak.

And they did not get better to start the second half. The fouls piled up as North Carolina expanded their lead.

Mayer picked up his fourth foul with about 16 minutes to go, then Brady Manek led the Tar Heels on a 13-0 run. The lead was up to 25 points at 67-42 and there were just 11 measly minutes left to play.

Then the game turned on its head. Brady Manek laid Jeremy Sochan out going after a Matthew Mayer miss. Manek was ejected with 26 points, and Sochan created a game-changing play for the second straight half, this time benefiting Baylor.

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Immediately, senior Adam Flagler scored a layup, nailed a three, and then nailed another three after the Bears’ press created a turnover.

It was an 11-0 run about a minute and a half, and the green and gold weren’t done.

The press rattled the Tar Heels and they turned the ball over 13 times in the second half. Then Caleb Love charged into Mayer and fouled out.

Baylor poured it on from there, with Flagler, Mayer, and Dale Bonner all hitting threes while James Akinjo earned and-one opportunities in the paint.

All in all, the Bears went on a 31-9 run from 67-42 to make it a three-point game at 76-73.

Armando Bacot was put on the free-throw line consistently, and he left the door open for the Bears missing three of four late.

But the Bears had to earn overtime, with Sochan banking in a three and Akinjo covering another and-one to tie it at 80 apiece.

In the extra period, Baylor ran out of juice. UNC’s Dontrez Styles hit his second three of the year, and that seemed to take the wind out of Baylor’s sails. Flo Thamba also fouled out early on, and Matthew Mayer did the same later.

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Mayer finished with 10 points in a rugged performance where he returned from injury and drew a couple of key charges on the Heels. He left everything on the court in what was most likely his final game for Baylor.

“We’ve had a ton of adversity this year,” Mayer said after the game, “but this team fights and I’m definitely proud to go out like that.”

As a team, the Bears shot 1-11 in overtime and looked absolutely exhausted by the end.

James Akinjo also fouled out right at the end, making it 3 of 3 seniors using up every minute they could in the green and gold.

When interviewed after the game, coach Scott Drew brought up the famous quote “Never underestimate the heart of a champion”, and he said, “I thought our guys really displayed that tonight.”

The Bears end the year with a 27-7 record and a share of the Big 12 regular-season championship.

Discussion from...

Bears Come Back from 25 Down, Fall to Heels 93-86 in OT

1,824 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 8 mo ago by Fre3dombear
Space Cutter
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Amazing game and amazing comeback by the Bears. Wished it had been a win in OT but wow what an awesome team we had this year.

Proud of these guys & proud to be a Baylor Bear. SicEm
historian
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Despite the final outcome, our guys did us proud. What a fight they put up to get to OT!
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I Corinthians 10:31
Fre3dombear
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Didn't see the sochan technical. Was it legit?
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