nationalNo. 2 Baylor impresses with 82-69 victory in top-5 showdown against No. 5 Illinois
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No. 2 Baylor impresses with 82-69 victory in top-5 showdown against No. 5 Illinois

The defensive-minded Baylor Bears squad made the most of their last-second trip to Indianapolis, Indiana to compete in the Jimmy V Classic Double Header on ESPN. The Bears were able to overcome a recent string of COVID-19 issues to make the trek for some high-profile college basketball action.

The second-ranked Bears faced No. 5 Illinois on Wednesday night following a bout between No. 7 Kansas and No. 20 Kentucky, which the Jayhawks narrowly won 65-62. After a competitive first half, the Bears took their 31-30 lead and continued to build upon it, eventually pulling away for an 82-69 win.

The Fighting Illini (3-1) hung tough through the first and second half until about 13 minutes left in regulation. From that point, the Bears (3-0) created separation with dominant play on the defensive end, coupled with consistent capitalization on their ensuing transition opportunities. Baylor’s depth on the perimeter loomed large in this contest on both ends of the court. The Bears guard combined to force seven steals and scored all but 13 of the team’s 82 points.

Redshirt sophomore and Presbyterian transfer Adam Flagler led the Bears with 18 points, while Davion Mitchell (15), preseason AP All-American guard Jared Butler (12), and MaCio Teague (11) also reached double figures. Illinois star sophomore Ayo Dosunmo led the Fighting Illini with 18 points.

Sophomore UNLV transfer Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and athletic senior Mark Vital were also impactful in the frontcourt for the Bears. Both forwards played with tremendous energy on the court, and they combined for a stat line of 15 points and 16 rebounds.

The Bears will face another strong opponent soon. At noon on Saturday, Baylor will face No. 1 Gonzaga with the winner likely taking over the top spot in the upcoming AP Poll. For more sports coverage, click here.

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