I know we are all looking at what is happening in St. Louis with the Cards. I thought amongst all the angst we should look at other things that are happening. Last night two of the top 5 teams in the county one from the Big 12 Baylor#2 and 1 from the Big Ten Illinois#5. They came together in Indianapolis in the Jimmy V Classic. Both teams highly touted and with some impressive names to put on the floor.
The game was to feature two of the top backcourts in the nation in Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Fraizer for the Illini and Davion Mitchell and Jarred Butler for the Bears. The U of I also featured the Big ten Rookie player of the year2019-2020 in 7"-0' 285lbs Kofi Cockburn who was averaging a double-double in his first 3 games. the game had all the markings of a pier six brawl. Illinois appeared to have the inside and shooting advantage with the aforementioned Cockburn and Freshman shooting guard Adam Miller. That advantage quickly vanished as Cockburn got into early foul trouble and Miller could not find the range going just 2-11 and 0-6 from 3 point range. Giorgi Bezhanishvili a 6-9 junior did his best to take over for the MIA Cockburn. With 13 pts in the 1st half. The lead went back and forth most of the 1st half with Baylor taking a 1 point lead going into the break.
The defense was big for Baylor as Dosunmu rarely had an open look for a shot and the Illini turned the ball over 7 times in the 1st half and 12 for the game. The catalyst for Baylor seemed to show up from the bench by Adam Flagler with 18 points on 6-11 2-6 from beyond the mark and 4 -4 from the line.
Free Throws seemed to be eluding both teams in the first half Illinois was 1-6 and Baylor was 5 of 10 In the second half both teams picked up the pac3e with Illinois hitting 9 -10 and Baylor going 10-14.
The Baylor defense wore down the Illini with a swarm to the ball style. and relentless switching. Illinois perimeter shooters were hard-pressed to find an open shot and even harder pressed to get the ball inside. O exception was Andre Curbelo a 6-3 Fr guard. He chipped in 11 points and 4 assists most in the second half. Dosunmu and a better second half finishing the game with 18 points. mostly on open transition looks. The only offensive statistic that the Illini led in were fast-break points. They had 14 to Baylor's 10 however, everything else points in the paint, Baylor 38-30 points off turnovers, 17 -8 Baylor second-chance points, 24 - 7 Baylor (thanks to 16 Offensive Rebounds). Those last to stats alone add up to a 41 -15 advantage for Baylor.
Full disclosure yes I am an Illinois/Big Ten fan. But I have a great appreciation for the Big 12. With Teams like Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, and of course Missouri. These two conferences will have many teams running up and down the top 25 over the coming year.
Since the season just got started I have not watched much Basketball Other than Kansas and Kentucky. Bill Self is loaded for another Deep NCAA run yet again. Then there is Texas who squeezed out a win against the #14Tar Heels. on the Big Ten side, Michigan State pretty much had their way with Duke until a late second-half run made it close. watching Baylor If they play that way against Gonzaga there will be a new number 1 in college Basketball.
Thanks for reading. I will have more thoughts on the Big 10/Big 12 action when Illinois takes on Missouri Saturday, Dec 12 in Columbia.
Until then stay safe, stay healthy and I will see you soon.
Email me at Bortas2002@yahoo.com
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