Baylor’s zone claims another NCAA tourney victim

Posted Sunday, Mar. 23, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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For a second consecutive time in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Baylor’s zone defense stymied opposing shooters in a lopsided victory Sunday.

The Bears limited Creighton, one of the nation’s top offensive teams, to a 40 percent shooting effort (22-of-55) in an 85-55 romp at the AT&T Center. Included was a 20.8 percent conversion rate from behind the arc (5-of-24), where Creighton had done much of its damage this season.

The victory lifted Baylor (26-11) to a berth in next week’s Sweet Sixteen against Wisconsin. It followed on the heels of a performance when Baylor held Nebraska to a 23.1 shooting percentage in the first half of Friday’s 74-60 victory.

Asked why the Bears’ zone has been so effective in the NCAA tournament, forward Cory Jefferson said: “I just feel that it’s us being active. We don’t have a lot of size up top in our zone (with the guards). But with them being active, it really doesn’t matter.”

The strength of Baylor’s zone is down low, with Jefferson, center Isaiah Austin and forwards Rico Gathers and Royce O’Neale. Guard Gary Franklin said: “Ideally, the zone is to keep the ball out of the paint. But also two of you have a lot of pressure on the perimeter. It’s hard for them to see and make the right passes and the right reads in the zone.”

Combined with Iowa State’s 85-83 victory over North Carolina in Sunday’s early game, the Bears and Cyclones are the last remaining teams in the NCAA Tournament among seven Big 12 schools that received bids.

Clock confusion

North Carolina coach Roy Williams stressed that officiating was not to blame for the Tar Heels’ inability to get a timeout in efforts to answer Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane’s winning layup with 1.9 seconds remaining in the Cyclones 85-83 victory. Down by two, the Tar Heels inbounded the ball but, after reviewing the monitor, officials confirmed that the time out call was not acknowledged until after the final buzzer.

“We’re not laying this one on the officials,” Williams said. “We made some mistakes. All five of us are supposed to be calling timeout. I was calling timeout but they [officials] didn’t recognize it. It’s very difficult, but nobody’s blaming the officials.”

Lineup tweak

Iowa State forward Daniel Edozie, a 6-foot-8 junior, made his first start of the season for the Cyclones in Sunday’s game against North Carolina. Edozie replaced Georges Niang, who suffered a season-ending fractured foot in Friday’s victory over North Carolina Central.

Edozie earned the start to counter the Tar Heels’ front-line size but coach Fred Hoiberg rotated several players into the contest, varying between two-guard and three-guard lineups. Edozie, who did not score, finished with four rebounds and played 16 minutes. ISU’s bench outscored North Carolina’s bench, 15-6, with guard Naz Long contributing 12 points in 26 minutes.

Asked about Edozie, Hoiberg said: “He has a good, big, physical body. He stepped up and gave us great minutes.”

Long-range artists

North Carolina came into Sunday’s matchup against Iowa State averaging 4.2 3-point shots per game. The Tar Heels connected on eight shots from behind the arc (four each by Leslie McDonald, Marcus Paige) but fell because the Cyclones were even more lethal from long range. ISU hit 12-of-26 from 3-point range (46.2 pct.,), with Naz Long (4-of-8) and Monte Morris (3-of-4) leading the way.

Briefly

• Baylor’s victory over Creighton was its first in four meetings between the schools. Iowa State’s victory was its first in four meetings against North Carolina.

• Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby attended Sunday’s games in San Antonio.

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

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