Gonzaga’s 19-point lead had dwindled to five early in the second half after a Baylor surge. Brandon Clarke – not exactly a surprise – delivered the Zags’ next six points, one on a tough 10-footer as the shot clock was expiring, another on a putback jam off a Killian Tillie miss and a pair of free throws rewarding Clarke’s hard drive to the rim. GU led 49-38. The Bears kept battling, but could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.
Clarke simply took over at the offensive end against Baylor’s undersized frontcourt. The 6-foot-8 junior had 18 points in the first half as the Zags built a 16-point lead. He didn’t slow down in the second half, even when Baylor tried to defend him with 6-8 Freddie Gillespie and 6-7 Mario Kegler. Clarke made 15 of 18 shots and scored 36 points, equaling his career-high from San Jose State.
We could easily go with Clarke, who swatted five shots and made life miserable for Baylor when it penetrated the lane, but Zach Norvell Jr. turned in another solid defensive effort against a quality opposing guard. Norvell chased around Makai Mason’s, Baylor’s leading scorer, and limited the senior to 5-of-16 shooting, including 2 of 7 beyond the arc. Mason got his points (17), but needed a lot of shots to reach that figure.
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