Baylor needed its defense to take over when its 3-point shooting was ice cold.
The No. 1-seeded Bears forced six Villanova turnovers in a four-minute span midway through the second half in the middle of a 16-4 run to advance to the Elite Eight with a 62-51 win over the No. 5 Wildcats.
Villanova had a seven-point lead at halftime and maintained that lead for the first few minutes of the second half. Baylor's defense clamped down and helped flip a 37-31 Villanova lead into a 47-41 Baylor advantage.
Davion Mitchell was a big part of that run. He had two steals that directly led to layups and finished with 14 points. The Bears outscored Villanova 23-10 over the final 10 minutes of the game.
Villanova got within five in the final five minutes but didn't have enough offensive firepower to come any closer. The Wildcats finished the game with 16 turnovers to Baylor's six.
Baylor struggles from 3
Baylor entered the game as the best 3-point shooting team in the country. And the Bears were absolutely terrible from behind the arc on Saturday.
Baylor was a crazy 3-of-19 from deep and didn't get many points from its top two scorers. Adam Flagler was the only Baylor player with two threes — he had a team-high 16 points — and Jared Butler was 1-of-9 from deep. Butler finished with nine points; eight points below his season average. MaCio Teague had just five. He entered Saturday averaging 16 points per contest.
Had Villanova shot the ball better from behind the arc the Wildcats might have been able to pull off the upset. But it’s hard to win an NCAA tournament game when you have 10 more turnovers than your opponent and make fewer than five threes.
The Wildcats were just 3-of-17 from behind the arc. Yes, the two teams combined to shoot a dreadful 6-of-36 from 3-point range.
Jermaine Samuels led Villanova with 16 points while Justin Moore had 15. The Wildcats advanced to the Sweet 16 thanks to two convincing wins in the tournament’s first weekend without point guard Collin Gillespie. The team’s second-leading scorer suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Big East tournament.
Baylor hasn't been to Final Four in 71 years
Baylor is now one win away from its first Final Four since 1950. A win on Monday in the South region final would break a 70-year drought.
And Baylor has been close to breaking that drought before in coach Scott Drew's tenure. This is the third time in the past 11 years that Baylor has advanced to the Elite Eight. The Bears lost to Duke in 2010 and to Kentucky in 2012.
Baylor entered both of those games as the lower seed and an underdog. It won't be an underdog on Monday night. And a win will also get us a step closer to a national championship between the Bears and undefeated Gonzaga.
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