No. 20 Baylor's bench sparks Battle 4 Atlantis title run
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) It turns out Baylor coach Scott Drew has plenty to work with on his bench. His 20th-ranked Bears wouldn't have won the Battle 4 Atlantis otherwise.
Playing on the third straight day and facing a 22-point deficit late in the first half, the Bears made a stunning comeback to beat No. 10 Louisville 66-63 in the championship game behind reserves King McClure, Terry Maston and Jake Lindsey.
McClure scored all 15 of his points in the second half. Maston scored 10 of his 12 after halftime. And Lindsey scored all eight of his points on 4-for-4 shooting, including two straight steal-and-layup conversions during the go-ahead 21-5 run.
Sure, the Bears' attack starts with tournament MVP Johnathan Motley, Al Freeman and Manu Lecomte. But with the reserves providing a spark, Freeman and Lecomte each played just 5 second-half minutes.
''It takes a team to win, especially on the last day when you've got tired legs,'' Drew said after Friday's win. ''They're all very good players and we trust them. As a coach there's nothing that makes you happier when guys that have put in the work are able to be rewarded.''
Baylor (6-0) has beaten three ranked opponents - then-No. 4 Oregon at home and No. 24 Michigan State in the Atlantis semifinals - in the span of about 10 days.
Here are other things we learned during the three-day Battle 4 Atlantis:
PITINO'S BENCH: The minutes mounted on Louisville's backcourt, and coach Rick Pitino knows that will have to change. Quentin Snider averaged 36 minutes per game and Donovan Mitchell averaged 37 through the three tournament games. Pitino pointed to fatigue as a factor in the Cardinals (5-1) blowing their big lead, saying he'll have to play more reserves even if they're not ready for major minutes.
''I've got to get some confidence in our bench somehow,'' Pitino said.
PRACTICE WORK: The Spartans (4-3) have played another tough nonconference schedule and crisscrossed the country with losses to Arizona in Hawaii and top-ranked Kentucky in New York followed by the trip to the Bahamas. Next up is a trip to No. 6 Duke's famously hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Coach Tom Izzo said there's been little time to fix the things that have gone wrong so far, though that could change when the schedule lightens in December.
''The schedule's been brutal as far as travel and who we've played,'' Izzo said. ''But the schedule's been brutal because we never have a practice day.''
SHOCKERS' PRESS: Trailing by 18 against Michigan State, Wichita State (5-2) went to pressuring the Spartans fullcourt to try to speed the game up. It worked, with the Shockers cutting an 18-point deficit to a single point before falling 77-72 in the third-place game.
Coach Gregg Marshall wouldn't rule out using it more often going forward.
''I dumbed it down in the second half, which I may have to do,'' Marshall said. ''We're pretty young, we're pretty inexperienced. I think we have a chance to be good, really good. But we're going to have to get better.''
MULLIN'S WORK: St. John's had a bumpy 0-3 showing, trailing by double figures at some point in every game. After Friday's 63-55 loss to Old Dominion, coach Chris Mullin said the Red Storm (2-4) ''probably took a step backwards'' to end the tournament.
''As frustrating as it is, that's usually what makes a team,'' Mullin said. ''If you can get through it together. No one likes to lose, no one likes to play terrible. But usually when you look back, that's usually what turns the team into a team, dealing with that.''
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