Friday, March 26, 2010
Final: Baylor 72, Saint Mary's 49
By Dana O'Neil
HOUSTON -- Wrapping up a 72-49 Sweet 16 game that was never a game here at Reliant Stadium. Baylor moves on to its first Elite Eight since the tournament expanded (Baylor played in and lost the national title game in 1948), and a program decimated only seven years ago will play for a Final Four berth with a serious home-court advantage. It was every bit as green and loud in here as it was for Michigan State at last year's Final Four in Detroit.
Whoever the Bears face -- either Purdue or Duke -- will have its hands full. Here's why:
Baylor is every bit as good inside as it is out. It's hard to judge from the rout of Saint Mary's since the Bears were so much more athletic and talented, but the fact is the Tweety Carter-LaceDarius Dunn combo in the backcourt can dominate and so can the Ekpe Udoh-Quincy Acy-Josh Lomers triple threat inside. Mix in the way the Bears play defense with their zone and there's a very good reason why Baylor is in the Elite Eight.
The only worry the Bears have right now is falling into the Syracuse trap. Remember, the Orange absolutely pasted Gonzaga in the second round and fell apart against Butler on Thursday night. Baylor can't afford to put a whole lot of stock in this win. The Bears played near flawless basketball, but the caveat is the opponent wasn't exactly up to snuff either. I'd suggest not even watching the tape.
You have to feel for Omar Samhan and the Gaels. The quotable senior ends his collegiate career humbled and silenced. He had 15 points but they were all but inconsequential in this rout. Samhan was exposed against the much stronger and tougher Baylor big men.