No. 18 Butler suffered its first loss of the season as No. 11 Baylor survived a 53-52 win Tuesday night.
Butler fought back from a 16-point deficit to cut the margin down to one, but Mark Vital blocked the potential go-ahead basket with 1.5 seconds remaining. Baylor never trailed throughout the game and held on for a hard-fought victory at home at the Ferrell Center.
Even with leading scorer Jared Butler held to eight points, the Bears were able to claw their way to a seventh straight win, including three of the last four over ranked opponents. The 8-1 squad has challenged itself with a tough nonconference schedule but continues to thrive with resume-building wins.
Kamar Baldwin scored 19 for Butler (9-1), but it wasn't enough to keep the undefeated season alive.
- Kamar Baldwin, G, Butler: 19 points, 7 rebounds
- Sean McDermott, F, Butler: 16 points, 4-of-6 from three
- Jared Butler, G, Baylor: 8 points, 1 assist
- MaCio Teague, G, Baylor: 10 points, 4 rebounds
Kamar Baldwin's Heroics Fall Short with Little Support
Butler might use a slow pace, but the squad still entered the day with the No. 12 offense in the country in efficiency, per KenPom.com. It didn't look like it early Tuesday.
The Bulldogs were held to a season-low 24 points in the first half as they couldn't finish shots inside:
Baldwin was the only one who could turn things around, taking over offensively to help cut a 16-point deficit down to single digits. Three straight buckets from the guard with about 10 minutes left helped cut the lead to four to make it a battle down the stretch.
As the game progressed, Baldwin was virtually the only player taking any shots for Butler as the senior tried willing the team to victory. An inefficient 9-of-24 from the field won't always please your coach, but few players were able to help him offensively.
Aside from Sean McDermott, who came up big with 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, no one else on the roster reached double figures and the other players combined for just five made field goals.
This remained the problem for the Bulldogs, who only had one bench point and couldn't give Baldwin any help offensively. This won't be enough to beat a tough defense like Baylor.
If Butler is going to reach expectations this season, players like Bryce Nze and Jordan Tucker will need to do a lot more.
Baylor Wins Despite Poor Offensive Effort
Baylor entered the day with just two players averaging double figures, and neither Jared Butler nor MaCio Teague was at his best in this one.
Butler only had three points in the first half, and it took more than 26 minutes of game action for him to get his second field goal. Teague had seven in the first and then disappeared for much of the second.
The duo combined to shoot 6-of-24 from the field and 2-of-14 from three.
The defense was key in the first half, holding Butler to a season-low 24 points. Devonte Bandoo represented the only offensive weapon with 10 points in 11 minutes:
However, Bandoo was held scoreless in the second half, and the rest of the team didn't step up with just 19 total points after halftime, including a scoreless stretch that lasted more than five minutes.
The team also didn't get a single point in the final 3:40 of regulation.
The difference was the hustle defensively to ensure every shot was difficult, while the 13 offensive rebounds helped get points on the board. Even with just 35 percent shooting and 6-of-27 from deep, Baylor stayed ahead on the scoreboard by getting loose balls and turning them into buckets.
It wasn't a pretty game, but it was enough to beat a talented opponent.
In what should be a loaded Big 12 schedule, this type of effort will be vital when the shooting isn't there.
The schedule eases a bit for Butler, which will return home for a game against Southern on Saturday. Baylor will have eight days off before a neutral-court game against UT Martin in Houston on Dec. 18.