INDIANAPOLIS – That ice that seemed to be forming across the 3-point arc was hardly enough to throw Baylor off course.
Some rugged defense and a newly discovered love for points in the paint helped the top-seeded Bears find the formula for a 62-51 victory over Villanova on Saturday and a trip to the Elite Eight.
Adam Flagler was the surprise leading scorer, with 16 points, and Baylor (25-2), which came in as the nation's leading 3-point shooting team at 41.5%, won despite making only 3 of 19 against Villanova's ever-shifting 2-3, man-to-man combo on D.
Baylor, which started the season 18-0 and won its first-ever Big 12 regular-season title, is one win from the Final Four for the first time since 2012. The Bears will play Arkansas in the South regional final on Monday.
Davion Mitchell, a 46% shooter from 3 this season, went 0 for 3 from long range on a 14-point day. The team's other two high-powered guards didn't fare better. Jared Butler scored nine points on 1-for-9 shooting from 3, and MaCio Teague had five points without a 3.
“When we are 2 for 12 at half, we figured we've got to get inside,” coach Scott Drew said of the team's 3-point shooting. “We got good looks but not great looks. The guards did a great job of not settling and probing more.”
Because of that, Baylor shot 53% in the second half, even though it made only one 3.
“Coach said we're not going to win if we keep shooting the off-dribble 3,” Mitchell said. “He told us to trust the defense and get in the paint.”