The No. 3 seed Baylor men’s basketball team held on to defeat No. 11 USC 82-78 in the second round of the NCAA tourney! This game gave me the most stress of my life (I say that after every football/basketball game where we scrape by) and I often stated that I hate basketball. Sometimes I think about all of the stress and anxiety I wouldn’t have if I stopped watching sports but then I remember how amazing they are and I slap myself back to reality. Sorry, basketball, I love you and I could never hate you. After shooting 42.9% of field goals and 28.6% of 3’s in the first half, the Bears held a mini lead over the Trojans going into halftime, 36-31. USC shot 52% and 44.4% in the first half, respectively. Sophomore G King McClure was Baylor’s leader in the first half, scoring the first 3 points of the game and adding steals and 3’s to Baylor’s lead. Junior F Johnathan Motley followed with few jumpers and fellow junior F Terry Maston added his own mid-range shots. Two dunks by Motley and junior F Jo Lual-Acuil gave the Bears the lead to end the first 20 minutes.
USC struggled on defense in the first half but their offense came alive in the second. Each time Baylor scored (or didn’t score), the Trojans would follow with a long 3 or easy jump shot. Sophomore F Bennie Boatwright was an absolute menace, making six of 11 field goals and four of nine 3’s, totaling 16 points. Sophomore F Chimezie Metu was the Trojans’ star, totaling 28!!!! (just using those exclamation points for emphasis, not proper punctuation) points after nailing 11 of 14 field goals. The second half gave me awake-nightmares as USC seemed to drain each 3 and field goal with ease. At one point, we were struggling to score for a while and the Trojans grabbed a five point lead with less than 10 mins left in the game. I worried that if the Bears couldn’t get their offense rolling, the Trojans would literally roll all over us. After Motley fouled out, the odds were stacked even more against us. Fortunately, junior G Manu Lecomte drained his first 3 of the entire tournament at the exact moment we needed him. With 4:40 left in the game, we were down 65-67 and our shots were not falling. Lecomte has had trouble shooting for the past few games and he hadn’t made a shot this entire tourney. BUT THANK THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW FOR A CLUTCH FIRE-EMOJI MANU. Lecomte nailed a long 3 and was fouled, giving him a four-point play. After USC turned the ball over, Manu was fouled again so he was back to the free throw line. Two more points plus a made layup gave him eight points in one minute. A final layup by Lecomte and four free throws gave Baylor the game.
The Bears will face South Carolina at Madison Square Garden on Friday with a chance to advance to the Elite Eight!