Baylor 86 Zags 70


Jim Rome
April 06, 2021 - 9:12 am
Baylor Bears

USA Today


The question coming out of Saturday night was: could the national championship game be even better than the UCLA-Gonzaga game had been? And within the first two minutes of last night, it was clear the answer wasn’t just no, it was hell no.  

That was one of the most comprehensive and thorough beatdowns I’ve seen in a long time. Complete hospital job. A total curb-stomping, the likes you really never see in the the title game.   

Baylor didn’t just come out and punch Gonzaga in the mouth. They cold-cocked them and shattered their face. And the Zags never recovered. They never really were in this game. And everyone knew it right from the jump when they hit the O glass.

And they followed that up with another offensive rebound on the next possession. And then a three. And then a layup. And it was 9-0 Baylor before you knew it and before Gonzaga knew it. At the time, you might have wondered why Mark Few didn’t call a timeout to stop the run. In hindsight, I’m not sure it mattered.

Last night was a continuation of Saturday night, AND in the worst way for Gonzaga. Because Baylor picked right up where they left off in that BEATDOWN of Houston and Gonzaga looked like they hadn’t slept since beating UCLA.

Baylor was explosive, aggressive, sharp as hell and, fresh: they looked like they could have played another 40. Meanwhile Gonzaga looked gassed from the first minute. They didn’t look like they’d played 45 minutes of intense basketball on Saturday night, they looked like they’d played it on Monday afternoon right before they tipped last night. 


The Zags couldn’t make a shot. And Baylor couldn’t miss. And when they did, they just got their own rebounds. That was a huge difference, Baylor were monsters on the offensive glass and killers defending the perimeter. Gonzaga couldn’t do a damn thing.  And Baylor did the damn thing. All damn night. They knew Gonzaga came in gassed, so it, wrapped both hands around their throats and just choked them the hell out. 

At one point in the first half, it was 29-10. In the national championship game. Against an undefeated Gonzaga team looking to make history. 

And you know Mercury Morris was popping champagne at that point, just because.

Baylor deserves all the credit in the world for what they did last night. That was as impressive a thrashing as you’ll ever see in a national championship game.

And the wild thing is, it wasn’t that long ago that these guys were struggling to find themselves. It wasn’t that long ago that they were trailing Villanova by seven at halftime of the Sweet Sixteen.

Jared Butler who couldn’t miss in the Final Four barely made a third of his shots in the first four tournament games and was even worse from deep. But when it mattered most, against Houston and Gonzaga, he hit nearly 60% of his threes and some of them were coming from Steph Curry range.

When you see him hitting shots like that and the juice that he was providing on offense, it’s no surprise he was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. But as good as Butler was, I’d have had no problem if Davion Mitchell was named MOP. If Butler was a walking bucket, Mitchell was a walking clamp. He didn't put up as many points as Butler, but had 16 assists in the Final Four and was lights out on defense. If you want someone who sums up Baylor’s defensive attitude, it’s Mitchell.  

And there’s something I want to point out here, do not for a second disrespect Baylor, or Gonzaga, by coming in here and saying the Zags were overrated. Or talking any junk about them. That is a damn good Gonzaga team with multiple NBA players on its roster, including a guy who’s a likely top five pick in the next few months.

They were the number one team in the country from preseason until last night. They beat Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa, Virginia, and five straight teams in the tournament. And most of them never even laid a hand on the Zags.  

Until Baylor. That’s how good this Baylor team is. If you want to come in here and trash Gonzaga or Mark Few, keep on moving. I have no time for that today. Last night wasn’t about Gonzaga not being good or being overrated or what conference they play. It’s a bullcrap attempt to get someone to look at you. It’s not about that. And it was all about how good Baylor is.

Dumping on Gonzaga is disrespecting Baylor. DON’T DO IT. BECAUSE. Gonzaga didn’t get exposed last night, they did what Houston did two nights earlier – they ran into BLEEPING buzz saw. BAYLOR led Houston by 25 at halftime and were up 19 on the Zags in the first half. Baylor is just that good: it’s not a case of Houston and Gonzaga being that bad.

The issue isn’t that people overrated Gonzaga, it’s that they underrated Baylor. Badly. Because as much respect as everyone gave the Bears before the game, it wasn’t nearly enough. AND they just ripped a ton more last night; and if they hadn’t gone on their pause mid-season’ we’d probably be talking about they’re being the first undefeated champion since 76 instead of the Zags. And talking them up as a generational team.

Hell yes, Baylor fans were lighting bleep on fire in Waco: I see them working. They had a helluva lot to celebrate and burn after the season they just had. I almost went gaucho style and burned a couch on their behalf. That’s how impressive they were last night.