In an exciting nonconference matchup, Gonzaga got the better of Baylor and left with a 94-87 victory.
Both teams shot well in the first half, but the Bulldogs went into intermission with a 38-33 advantage.
That continued for the remainder of the game as there was not much defense to be found on either end of the court. Both teams finished with over 50 percent shooting from the floor and were able to get easy baskets all day.
While the Bulldogs led for most of the second half, Baylor kept the game close throughout.
However, Gonzaga was finally able to pull away thanks to some clutch shots by Kevin Pangos. The sophomore showed why he is one of the most underrated players in the nation and he was a big reason for the victory.
Pangos came into the day hitting 36.2 percent of three-point shots, but he hit 7-of-10 threes on the day and finished with 31 points.
Big man Kelly Olynyk also came up big with 21 points, followed closely by Elias Harris with 17.
Pierre Jackson was the leader for Baylor like he has been all season. He scored 23 points with six assists, but seven turnovers ended up being costly.
The Bears also got yet another big game from freshman Isaiah Austin. His 20 points and eight rebounds kept the team in the game until the very end.
Gonzaga continues to rise in the national landscape. The team entered the game as the No. 13 team in the country and now has a 12-1 record, including wins over West Virginia, Clemson, Kansas State and Oklahoma.
Things do not get easier for the Bulldogs though, who now have to travel to Oklahoma State in the final game before starting the West Coast Conference schedule.
For Baylor, this game continues what has already been an up-and-down year. The Bears defeated Kentucky on the road, but also lost to the College of Charleston.
Fortunately, the nonconference schedule ends with this game as the Bears begin Big 12 play with a home game against the struggling Texas Longhorns.
ESPN Stats and Information joked about Gonzaga's dominance over the Big 12 coming into the game:
Who is best team in Big 12 besides Kansas? Gonzaga? Zags 3-0 vs Big 12 teams (beat Oklahoma, Kansas St, WVU) and play Baylor tonight— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 28, 2012
Dave Telep usually covers recruiting, but he knew what he was talking about when discussing how well Gonzaga played throughout the game:
Love the way Gonzaga is playing tonight.Selfless, smart, and with a high basketball IQ. Kevin Pangos way under valued nationally.— Dave Telep (@DaveTelep) December 29, 2012
ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla gave what sounded like a positive review of this Baylor squad:
Seriously, Baylor may not beat Zags but they've run some great stuff vs. very good team. Seen lot of worse coached teams this year.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) December 29, 2012
Of course, not everyone was pleased. NBA draft analyst Ed Isaacson thought talented freshman Isaiah Austin should have done more work inside.
Here's my thing with Isaiah Austin - You are 7'1. I know you can shoot a bit, but you should not be spending most of your time outside.— Ed Isaacson (@nbadraftblog) December 29, 2012
The big man finished 2-of-5 from behind the arc against Gonzaga.
Finally, one fan posts an obvious statement for any unfortunate soul who decided to watch college football earlier in the day:
This Baylor-Gonzaga basketball game is so much more exciting than the Rutgers-Virginia Tech football game. #GoZags— Ray Legendre (@CajunTomato) December 29, 2012
Time will tell how well these teams will finish this season, but there is no denying that this was one of the more entertaining games in the nation this year.
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