INDIANAPOLIS — Baylor defeated Houston 78-59 in the first Final Four game of the night at Lucas Oil Stadium in one of the most convincing performances in the history of the national semifinals. Baylor (27-2) advanced to the national championship game for the first time since 1948, when the Bears lost to Kentucky at the old Madison Square Garden in New York City.
In honor of coach Scott Drew’s 18 seasons in Waco, here are 18 numbers that show Baylor’s dominance:
9 — The closest margin of victory for Baylor in the NCAA tournament, an 81-72 victory over Arkansas in the Elite Eight.
15.2 — The average margin of victory for Baylor in its five tournament victories. The Bears defeated Hartford 79-55 in the first round, took down Wisconsin in the second round 76-63, Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen 62-51, and advanced to the Final Four with the victory over Arkansas.
4 — The number of players who have led the Bears in scoring throughout the NCAA tournament. In the game against Hartford, MaCio Teague led the way with 22 points. Against Wisconsin, Matthew Mayer had 17. Adam Flagler had 16 against Villanova. Then it was Teague again with 22 against Arkansas. Finally, Jared Butler finished with 17 against Houston.
2 — The number of teams that have won 18 or more games every season since 2008. Baylor’s emergence to national prominence under Drew has reached an unprecedented level in the modern history of the program, and making this championship game Monday night means a lot to him. “We’ve been consistently good,” he said after the victory over Houston. “We just haven’t been able to get to a Final Four or national championship.”
25 — Baylor’s halftime lead, which according to the NCAA was the fourth-largest in the history of the national semifinals and the largest in 18 years.
13 — Baylor’s points off turnovers in the first half. Houston, which came into the game averaging 10.6 turnovers, turned the ball over nine times in the first half. While the ball control for the Cougars improved significantly in the second half, by the time the increased composure came it was already too late.
85% — The percentage of Houston’s points Marcus Sasser scored in the first half — 17 of 20. Sasser was held to three points in the second half.
8% — The shooting percentage that Baylor held the two Houston stars, DeJon Jarreau and Quentin Grimes to in the first half. Grimes, who was 0-for-5 in the first half, finished with 13 points on 4-for-12 shooting. Jarreau was held to a total of seven points after 1-for-7 shooting in the first half.
38% — Houston’s field goal percentage for the game, after a first half showing of 26.9 percent from the field. When asked how the defense was so crisp, Drew said, “Coach (Alvin) Brooks did a great job on the scout. I think we were prepared. And really our guys did a great job buying into and locking in on assignments and tendencies.” Butler said that the defense was a point of emphasis, and that locking Houston down was important. “We went through their plays pretty well,” he said. “We studied those guys pretty well and knew their tendencies. We wanted to come out as the aggressors. And you’ve got to start that on the defensive end especially in a game like this.”
11 — The number of assists for Baylor junior Davion Mitchell. Mitchell finished with a double-double, scoring 12 points with 11 assists.
5 — The number of Bears who finished with double-digit points: Butler with 17, Mitchell with 12, Mayer with 12, Teague with 11, and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua had 11 points.
45.8% — Baylor’s shooting from 3-point range. Butler finished 4 for 5 from beyond the arc, and Mitchell went 3 for 6 from distance.
31.5% — Houston’s 3-point percentage. Grimes, who came into the game shooting 41 percent from 3-point range, shot 1 for 8 from deep and was scoreless in the first half. Marcus Sasser went 5 for 9 from 3-point range, and 3-point shooters other than Sasser combined for 1-for-10 shooting.
52% — Baylor’s field goal percentage.
21 — The difference in bench points between Baylor and Houston. Baylor had 32 bench points compared to 11 for the Cougars, with 10 of Houston’s bench points coming in the second half after the Cougars fell behind by 25. Mayer and Tchatchoua had 12 and 11, respectively, while Flagler finished with seven points. Senior guard Mark Paterson was able to get in and score a basket late. Drew said he believed the Baylor bench has been an essential factor. “I thought all year long our secret to our success has been our bench,” he said. “It’s a starting rotation. Again, it’s not five guys. We got a starting rotation and everybody comes in and provides a lift for us. So I think that’s been a big reason why we’ve been successful all year.”
16 — The smallest Houston deficit in the second half, after the 25-point halftime deficit.
10 — The number of fast break points for Baylor, which outscored Houston, 10-0. Baylor got back on defense, and did not allow Houston to get any easy opportunities off of their turnovers.
10 — The number of team championships in Baylor Division I school history, with a men’s tennis championship victory over UCLA becoming the first in 2004. The Baylor Lady Bears won the first of their three women’s basketball national championships in 2005, beating Michigan State 84-62 at the old RCA Dome just north of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Butler wants to cement his legacy as helping elevate Baylor’s status. “That was one of my goals and I know some of my teammates’ goals, just to leave a legacy at Baylor, create Baylor as blue-blood,” Butler said. “And get guys coming to Baylor and seen as a highly touted, respected program. And Coach Drew is the coach for it, and the staff is the staff for it. And that’s what I wanted to do.”