For the first time in program history, the Baylor men's basketball team are the national champions. And it required an impressive performance against the top-ranked team in the country for the Bears to end the 2020-21 season by cutting down the nets at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
That wasn't a problem for Baylor, though. It was dominant in the national championship game on Monday night, when it cruised to an 86-70 win over the previously unbeaten Bulldogs.
The Bears went on an 11-1 run to open the game and never trailed in the contest. They had a 10-point lead at halftime and refused to let the Zags threaten in the second half.
Baylor ended Gonzaga's dreams of being the first team to win the national championship and finish the season undefeated since Indiana in 1976. Instead, the Bears capped their own impressive season with the title, finishing with a 28-2 record.
Here are some notable stats from the final game of the season, along with a closer look at the recipient of the Most Outstanding Player Award for the men's NCAA tournament.
Junior guard Jared Butler: 22 points, seven assists, 6-for-14 from the field and 6-for-6 at the free-throw line.
Senior guard MaCio Teague: 19 points and 8-for-15 from the field.
Junior guard Davion Mitchell: 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Sophomore guard Adam Flagler: 13 points, 3-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 at the free-throw line.
The Bears shot 43.5 percent from three-point range and outrebounded Gonzaga 38-22.
Freshman guard Jalen Suggs: 22 points, two steals and 8-for-15 from the field.
Sophomore forward Drew Timme: 12 points, five rebounds, two blocks and 5-for-7 from the field.
Senior forward Corey Kispert: 12 points and three rebounds.
The Bulldogs shot 29.4 percent from 3-point range and committed 14 turnovers.
Most Outstanding Player
Jared Butler likely won't be back at Baylor next season, as he'll probably be declaring for the 2021 NBA draft. If that's the case, the junior guard's college career couldn't have ended on a better note.
Not only did the Bears win the national championship, but Butler also earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the men's NCAA tournament. He was a key reason for Baylor's successful run, helping to power the No. 1 seeds to six victories, including several over some tough competition.
On Monday, the 20-year-old was the star during the biggest win in Baylor's history. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he was the first player to have at least 20 points and seven assists in a national championship game since Carmelo Anthony did it for Syracuse in 2003. The report also noted he scored or assisted on 44 percent of the Bears' points (38 of 86).
"We were scoring, they weren't scoring. It was just electrifying," Butler said after the game, per Eddie Pells of the Associated Press.
It wasn't his first impressive showing of the NCAA tournament. Entering the national title game, he was averaging 13.8 points, 4.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals over Baylor's first five victories of the tourney.
But Butler clearly took his game to another level on the biggest stage. He made four three-pointers, which helped him post his highest points total of his past nine games.
He also had a strong showing in Baylor's Final Four win over No. 2-seeded Houston on Saturday night. He had 17 points (his most in the tournament up to that point), five rebounds, four assists and two steals, while going 6-for-9 from the field and 4-for-5 from three-point range, to help the Bears to a 78-59 win.
One of the veteran leaders on the team, Butler helped Baylor overcome some adversity prior to March Madness. After the Bears had won their first 18 games of the season, they lost at Kansas on Feb. 27. They still won the Big 12 regular-season championship (the first in program history), but they couldn't win the conference tournament for the first time, falling to Oklahoma State in the semifinals.
That didn't matter once Baylor began the NCAA tournament, though, as it defeated No. 16-seeded Hartford, No. 9-seeded Wisconsin, No. 5-seeded Villanova and No. 3-seeded Arkansas to get to the Final Four for the first time since 1950.
"I can tell you that our guys have been motivated all year. It's a player-led team," Baylor coach Scott Drew said, per Dave Skretta of the Associated Press. "We're so blessed to have unbelievable upperclassmen and leadership. But we play with a culture of joy and as you saw for yourself, they came out and they fed off of each other. We got off to a great start and then defensively we’re pretty good."
Soon, Butler will likely begin the preparations for the NBA draft, which doesn't have a date set yet due to the NBA season running later than usual. However, when it arrives, the 6'3" guard could be a first-round pick. (Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman is projecting him to go No. 21 overall.)
But no matter where Butler goes from here, he'll always be an instrumental player on an historic Baylor team that powered its way to this national championship.