led the Bears' blowout win by making 4-of-5 from 3-point range. (David J. Phillip/AP)
SAN ANTONIO — Back in early January, Baylor looked poised to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Scott Drew's team was ranked seventh nationally and appeared to be the team to beat in the Big 12. That was until the Bears’ tourney hopes were seemingly dashed with losses in eight of their first 10 conference games.
The tailspin once again raised questions about Drew’s coaching acumen. But overlooked in the skid was the shaky health of point guard Kenny Chery, who was battling turf toe.
“A healthy Kenny Cherry and we’re a much better team than him being injured,” Drew said on Saturday.
Sixth-seeded Baylor showed that again Sunday night, jumping all over No. 3 seed Creighton behind a barrage of 3-pointers from Cherry & Co. en route to an easy 85-55 victory in the third round of the West Region. Overall, the Bears made 11 of its 18 3s, well above its 38.6 percentage for the season and won for the 12th time in 14 games.
Isaiah Austin and Brady Heslip each had a game-high 17 points for the Bears, who next face second-seeded Wisconsin (28-7) on Friday in Anaheim. In the last game of star-studded collegiate career, Bluejays senior Doug McDermott was a non-factor against Baylor’s menacing zone defense and had just 15 points -- his third-lowest output of his national player of the year season -- on 7-of-14 shooting.
The blowout was a sobering reminder of the long and athletic Bears’ dangerous potential, especially when they hit 3s. They made their first five of the game, three of which were by Cherry, and used a 12-0 run to jump out to a 19-7 lead with 13:07 remaining in the first half.
Creighton (27-8) called a timeout just seconds later and it was clear that the shell-shocked Bluejays wouldn’t recover on this night. During the break, the Bears bench erupted on to the court in jubilation with assistants fist-pumping at the crowd.
It only got worse after that for Creighton as Baylor reeled off seven of the game’s next nine points. By the time Drew put on his black suit jacket at halftime and raised one of his arms to further fire up buzzing Bears fans as he exited the court, his team led 40-20.
The Bluejays never got closer than 19 in the second half. When McDermott checked out with 2:31 left, he hugged his father, Creighton coach Greg McDermott, for several seconds, and then did so with the rest of his teammates.
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