The Baylor Bears, ranked 20th in the nation made the trip from Waco, Texas, to Matthew Knight Arena for a matchup with the 25th-ranked Oregon Ducks Monday night.
As one of the marquee matchups as a part of ESPN’s 24-hour college basketball marathon, it was a rare early-season non-conference matchup against a ranked team for the Ducks.
The game was a low-scoring affair for the first five minutes, but that picked up as the Ducks led by as many as 16. The Bears, though, never stopped battling.
Continuing to fight and going on runs throughout the entirety of the game, the Bears battled back to make it a five point game with five minutes left.
The Ducks had gone on a stretch of empty possessions and the momentum continued to steadily sway Baylor’s way.
That was until an alley-oop to Chris Boucher happened.
With 44 seconds left, Elgin Cook lobbed a ball to the 6’10” senior transfer and he knew just what to do with it, finishing with the flush and giving the Ducks a 6 point lead, re-energizing the crowd that was nervous only seconds prior.
The Ducks withstood the late run by the Bears and won 74-67.
With Baylor scoring 97 points in their last game, the Ducks knew rebounding was going to be the key to slowing down the Bears. The Ducks did just that, by grabbing 35 rebounds.
The same was said about the Ducks – rebounding was a clear emphasis coming into the matchup.
With Oregon’s impressive 80-52 win over Jackson State, Baylor knew it had to somehow slow down the up-tempo Duck offense. Their mantra: Out-rebound the Ducks, and keep them out of transition.
“We wanted to keep them out of transition, unfortunately we turned it over so that didn’t allow that to happen. Credit their defense for creating some turnovers and we have to do a better job executing and making sure we don’t allow great teams like that to get into transition,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
The Ducks forced 18 turnovers and converted those turnovers into 28 points. “Those turnovers were the ballgame and our Achilles heal, give them credit for putting us out of sync and once again those turnovers were the ballgame, in my opinion,” Drew said.
The Ducks had five double digit scorers and were led by both Cook and Boucher who both tallied 15 points. Boucher was named the player of the game as he had 8 rebounds to go with his offensive game.
The Bears tried to slow down the Ducks by playing zone for a majority of the game, but the Ducks came out shooting 44% to go up 35-24 at the half.
They continued to shoot the ball well by once again shooting 44% in the second half and withstood the last push the Bears had to offer.
The Ducks will take this win, build on it and will be back Friday evening to take on the Savannah State Tigers who are 4-0 so far in the early season.
Top Photo by John Sperry