For the second year in a row was a disappointing end for Baylor in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bears entered the tournament as a No.3 seed and carried high expectations heading into the tournament, hoping to duplicate their national title run in 2021.
The No. 3 seed in the South region, the bears fell 85-76 to the No. 6 seed Creighton Blue Jays on Sunday. Creighton’s Ryan Nembhard was the top scorer with his impressive performance, leading the Bluejays to victory with their sharp 3-point shooting (45.8%) and perfect free-throw shooting (22-of-22). This win secured Creighton’s spot in the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons.
Ryan Nembhard is COOKING 🔥#MarchMadness @BluejayMBB pic.twitter.com/INRpbauVCo
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 20, 2023
Creighton Shows Their Depth
Ryan Kalkbrenner, a 7-foot-1 center for Creighton, was an unstoppable force on his way to 31-points in the Jays’ first-round win over state. But Crieghton showed their depth as it was the guard-play that helped burry the bears on Sunday.
Nembhard delivered his best performance to date with 30 points, while Trey Alexander contributed 17 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Additionally, Arthur Kaluma and Kalkbrenner held their own in the frontcourt, with 11 and 10 points respectively, as well as seven rebounds each, helping Creighton establish a 10-point lead at halftime.
Baylor was able to cut into the Crieghton lead and trailed by just five points with 14:42 remaining in the game, thanks in large part to the efforts of LJ Cryer. It looked like Baylor had snatched the momentum and was on their way to their first tie in the game since early in the first half.
However, the Bears were unable to get even it up, as Creighton snatched back momentum quickly and suddenly expanded their lead to 18 points after Nembhard drilled his fourth 3-pointer with 5:54 left on the clock.
Baylor Stars Go Cold
Baylor never really made a push late. Cryer did everything he could for Baylor, scoring a career-high 30 points on 13-of-22 shooting. However, Cryer’s teammates, Adam Flagler and Keyonte George, who are Baylor’s top scorers, struggled with a combined 22 points on 7-of-24 shooting and went 0-7 from deep.
Overall, Baylor only made five out of their 22 attempts from beyond the arc, but their biggest issue in the loss was their defensive effort. Every time they made a bucket and needed a stop to get back in it, they had no answer for the Creighton offense.
Following their loss, Baylor became the first No. 3 seed to be eliminated from the tournament and finished their season with five losses in their last eight games.
Creighton Continues To Roll
Meanwhile, Creighton is finding their A-game at just the right time. At the beginning of the season, many considered The Jays a top-10 team after coming close to defeating eventual champion Kansas in the second round last year. However, the team struggled with an unimpressive 6-6 start to the season and didn’t appear to live up to their pre-season expectations until later in the year during Big East play. Creighton won 11 of their final 14 regular-season games, earning them a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Crieghton now has a somewhat unlikely date with No. 15 seed Princeton who has defeated No.2 seed Arizona and No.7 seed Missouri, in impressive fashion. The two will collide next Friday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.