College Basketball

Baylor's rout of Gonzaga draws praise for Bears from all corners

April 6

Take a bow, Baylor.

Scott Drew's Baylor Bears ran roughshod over the Gonzaga Bulldogs in Monday night's NCAA Men's Tournament national championship, bullying Mark Few's previously undefeated squad to the tune of 86-70.

In the process of bringing Baylor its first men's basketball championship, Drew became the youngest active title-winning head coach in the sport.

Led by a trio of relentless guards, Drew's group executed against Gonzaga to near perfection. Davion Mitchell, MaCio Teague and Jared Butler combined to score 56 of Baylor's 86 points, spearheading an offense that led wire-to-wire to win the game.

FOX Sports College Basketball Analysts Mark Titus and Tate Frazier, who co-host the "Titus and Tate" podcast, broke down the game immediately following the result.

Titus pointed out that Gonzaga's slow start and overall inability to make it a competitive contest shouldn't be looked at as solely a referendum on the Bulldogs.

"You should not, in any way, like, applaud Gonzaga for the effort they put forward tonight. But I think diminishing what Gonzaga accomplished this year and how good that team is, it takes away from what Baylor did. You know what I mean? If you say that, 'Gonzaga's a fraud' ... what you're basically saying is, 'I'm not that impressed with what Baylor did tonight because they did it against a weakened opponent.' No!"

In Frazier's mind, the Bears deserve special praise beyond the rout of Gonzaga.

The prospect of having an undefeated Gonzaga win the championship caught a lot of attention coming into Monday's title game, but Frazier pointed out that Baylor, despite two losses on the season, deserves to be remembered appropriately.

"Those are their two losses, right? You come off of a pause off a global pandemic that's going on, so there's a little bit of an understanding there, in Allen Fieldhouse against Kansas. ... And [the second is] against [Oklahoma State and] Cade Cunningham. And everything else has been Ws. ... They are historically great, what they did in this Final Four and what they did to Gonzaga."

A big factor in Baylor's dominance was flat-out hustle.

While they shot a serviceable 44.8% from the field and 45.5% from distance as a team, the Bears mopped up misses with a whopping 14 offensive rebounds, compared to just one offensive board for the Zags.

Mark Vital led that effort with eight offensive rebounds. The Bears also had eight steals and five blocks, harrying Bulldogs star point guard Jalen Suggs and the Zags any time they were in possession of the ball.

That tenacity wasn't lost on Skip Bayless.

Nor were Baylor's sheer size and physicality lost on Bayless' "Undisputed" counterpart, Shannon Sharpe.

On ESPN, Seth Greenberg listed why perhaps we should have seen a Baylor win coming, despite Gonzaga's being favored by oddsmakers.

"Better backcourt? Baylor. Better defense? Baylor. Better rebounding? Baylor. ... The only area I thought where maybe Gonzaga could win and could be a difference-maker was [Drew] Timme. And Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua ... his feet, his quickness, how active and how physical they were. Ball-pressure wise, they pushed him out."

Monday's triumph was 71 years in the making for Baylor, who last reached the Final Four in 1950.

After putting a pounding on Gonzaga, it's time for a well-deserved victory lap.

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