Last week Monday, the No. 1 seeded Baylor Men’s Basketball team bounced back from a too-close-for-comfort victory over No. 5 Villanova in the NCAA Elite Eight to convincingly defeat No. 3 Arkansas, 81-72. The Bears were moving on to the Final Four for the first time in 71 years when they advanced to yesterday’s game against No. 2 Houston where they played arguably their best complete game since their COVID pause in February (I wrote about it here). After handing Houston a major 78-59 defeat in the Final Four, the Bears are heading to the NCAA National Championship for the first time since their 58-42 loss to Kentucky in the 1948 Championship. Baylor opened the Houston matchup similarly to their play against Arkansas where they started hot and kept a large lead through the entirety of the game. The Cougars truly had no chance as the Bears shot 57.14% (16-28) of their field goals, 53.33% (8-15) of 3s, and 71.43% (5-7) free throws to take a 45-20 lead at the half following junior G Davion Mitchell’s (the national defensive player of the year) 3 point shot at the buzzer. According to Baylor Athletics’ Jerry Hill (papa), “the Bears had the largest halftime lead in a Final Four game in 18 years (45-20) and fourth-largest in history.” And Baylor never let up on their scoring, keeping a double digit lead basically the entire challenge. After the second half, the Bears recorded 52.7% (29-55) of their field goals, 45.8% (11-24) of 3s, and 69.2% (9-13) of free throws. Junior G Jared Butler (Big 12 player of the year) got his shot back after he struggled through most of the tournament, shooting 66.7% (6-9) of his field goals, 80% (4-5) of 3s, and 100% (1-1) of free throws with a total of 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Mitchell “set a Baylor program record with 11 assists in an NCAA Tournament game, the most in a Final Four game since 2003. And he is the first player since 1987 with double-digit assists and zero turnovers in a Final Four game,” where he had 12 points, 2 rebounds, and 11 assists. Junior G/F Matthew Mayer had 12 points and 4 rebounds; senior G MaCio Teague notched 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists; and sophomore F Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua had 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist. Once again, the Bears’ difference maker was their bench players who outscored Houston 32 points to 11. The Bears also won the turnover challenge as they scored 14 points off of the Cougars who only had 8. Baylor will face fellow No. 1 Gonzaga in the NCAA Championship tomorrow at 8:20 p.m. (CT) in a long awaited standoff!