SALT LAKE CITY – Brandon Clarke poured in 36 points and top-seeded Gonzaga held off a second-half comeback attempt from ninth-seeded Baylor for a 83-71 victory on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Clarke broke Adam Morrison’s school record for points in an NCAA Tournament game. He also became just the third player in tourney history with 35 points and five blocks in a game, joining Shaquille O’Neal and David Robinson.
Corey Kispert added 16 points for the Bulldogs (32-3), while Josh Perkins finished with 11 points and six assists.
The Gonzaga advances to the Sweet 16 for the fifth straight season. GU will play fourth-seeded Florida State on Thursday in Anaheim, California. Time and TV information for that game is still to be determined.
The Seminoles eliminated the Bulldogs in the Sweet 16 last season in Los Angeles.
Baylor (20-14) was led by Mark Vital and Makai Mason’s 17 point efforts.
The Zags shot 54.4 percent from the floor and 35 percent from deep, while Baylor shot 41.7 percent overall and 19 percent from 3-point range. GU outrebounded the Bears 39-27, including a 13-12 advantage on the offensive glass.
NCAA March Madness / YouTube
Final – Gonzaga 83, Baylor 71: Behind Brandon Clarke’s monster game, Gonzaga is once again off to the Sweet 16.
Clarke’s 36 points are a NCAA Tournament record at Gonzaga. Quite the impact for the junior transfer from San Jose State.
Plenty of credit to Baylor, which came to life in the second half, but a sluggish first 20 minutes was too much for the Bears to overcome.
Off nights for a lot of Gonzaga players, but the duo of Clarke and Corey Kispert had enough offense for the Zags to move on.
3:19 – Gonzaga 74, Baylor 63: Mark Vital’s foul trouble a sore spot for Baylor down the stretch. With him sitting on four personals, GU has been able to go inside and score with ease.
The Bears have had a couple surges to get the game to single digits, but depth and the slow start are hurting the Bears down the stretch.
Bulldogs keep going to Brandon Clarke and the big man keeps delivering. Clarke up to 34 points, just two shy of his career high at San Jose State.
Corey Kispert still the only other Gonzaga player in double figures with 13 points.
Bulldogs looking to hold on and advance to play Florida State in Thursday’s Sweet 16.
7:35 – Gonzaga 64, Baylor 53: Big 3-pointer from Josh Perkins and fast-break layup from Corey Kispert as Baylor has the GU lead down to single digits again.
Brandon Clarke back on the floor after a short break. His impact is instant after some nice interior defense stops a 2-on-1 chance for the Bears.
Killian Tillie gets in on the scoring action, putting back a Clarke miss for his first points of the game.
Bulldogs letting Baylor stay in the hunt with a few mental mistakes. Kispert called for a technical after taunting a Baylor player. Tillie then picks up his fourth foul on some contact in the paint after a Baylor make.
11:46 – Gonzaga 55, Baylor 44: We’re starting to sound like broken records over here at Live Updates, but Brandon Clarke is putting on a performance for the ages tonight in Salt Lake City.
Josh Perkins tries a pick and roll alley-oop with Killian Tillie that hangs bounces off the iron, but Clarke is right there for the thunderous slam to get to 26 points.
With Clarke off to the bench for a break, Corey Kispert picks right back up where he left off in the first half with a 3-pointer. He’s up to 11 points.
Not wanting to feel left out, Zach Norvell Jr. follows up Kispert’s triple with one of his own to get to seven points.
Three Baylor players are also into double figures. Mark Vital’s 12 points leads the Bears, followed by 10 points apiece for Makai Mason and Jared Butler.
15:32 – Gonzaga 45, Baylor 38: Bulldogs come out of the timeout and get a few buckets, including a score by Brandon Clarke to get the big man to 22 points, but Baylor keeps answering.
The Bears moving the ball much better this half against the Gonzaga defense. Baylor does have some of its more physical players getting in foul trouble as Mark Vital, who was guarding Clarke, picks up his fourth.
Bulldogs still not able to get Rui Hachimura involved much in the game. The Naismith finalist has just two points, both of which came from the free-throw line in the opening minutes. he is 0 for 3 from the floor.
18:08 – Gonzaga 39, Baylor 33: And just like that the Bears have come out of hibernation.
Baylor comes out on fire, scoring the first 10 points of the half to cut the Gonzaga lead to eight.
GU coach Mark Few calls a quick timeout to get his team settled.
Halftime – Gonzaga 39, Baylor 23: Heck of a half by Brandon Clarke, who leads all scorers with 18 points.
Zags shoot 55.6 percent overall and 27.3 percent from 3-point range in the half, while holding the Bears to 29.6 percent from the floor and 10 percent from deep.
Very quiet half from Rui Hachimura, much like the loss to Saint Mary’s – the big difference is everyone else is making their shots for the Zags.
Baylor is getting its share of second-chance looks with seven offensive rebounds, but it can’t overcome the poor shooting and six turnovers.
Jared Butler pacing Baylor with 10 points. He does have three fouls though.
On the GU side of things, Hachimura, Killian Tillie and Geno Crandall each with two fouls.
Looking ahead, if the Zags can hold off Baylor, it’ll be a rematch with Florida State in the Sweet 16. The Seminoles are thumping Murray State late in its second-round game.
4:12 – Gonzaga 35, Baylor 18: Zags haven’t had much of a problem finding their shot in Salt Lake City. Bulldogs shooting 63.6 percent overall and 42.9 percent from deep so far, while holding Baylor to 30.4 percent from the floor and 11.1 percent from 3-point range.
Corey Kispert having himself quite the game. The sophomore wing has eight points after his second triple of the game.
Baylor can’t quite seem to get comfortable in one defensive set, which seems to be hurting the Bears more than the Zags. Baylor has switched from man to zone and back several times already in this one.
Brandon Clarke with one of his best offensive halves of the season. The junior forward up to 16 points on 8 of 10 shooting.
8:30 – Gonzaga 23, Baylor 13: Fantastic recognition from Josh Perkins as he runs holds a fast break long enough to find a trailing Brandon Clarke for the slam.
Baylor not taking care of the basketball very well (5 turnovers) but a lot of that needs to be credited to Gonzaga’s active hands in the lane.
One thing Baylor is hurting GU with is its work on the boards. The Bears have five offensive rebounds so far.
Jared Butler pacing Baylor with seven points, while Brandon Clarke has 10 for the Zags
11:45 – Gonzaga 19, Baylor 9: First points of the game for Rui Hachimura come from the free-throw line after getting fouled before the under-16 timeout.
Zags starting to pick on the Bears inside as they go right back to Brandon Clarke on a mismatch. That leads to a nice inside-out game for GU which results in a Corey Kispert triple.
Kispert up to five points after a putback layup on a Zach Norvell Jr. layup.
Zags doing a fantastic job of getting their hands in Baylor passing lanes. Bears already with four turnovers, the last of which leads to a big Brandon Clarke two-handed slam.
A sign of things going good for the Zags, Geno Crandall tries to lob a pass to Brandon Clarke, but instead the ball drops in for a 3-pointer. Crandall can just smile and shake his head as the GU lead reaches double figures.
15:49 – Baylor 7, Gonzaga 5: This one looking a lot more like an NCAA Tournament test in the early going as the Bears knock down a couple of quick shots.
Josh Perkins having some early success getting all the way to the bucket. The senior guard scores the Zags’ first points of the game on a nice take and finish, followed by a drive where he got fouled and hit one of two free throws.
Baylor not the biggest team in the tournament, but they’re not afraid to challenge Brandon Clarke and the Zags in the paint.
Speaking of Clarke, the big man gets his first points of the game on a nice post move and finish. GU’s other big, Rui Hachimura, has yet to take a shot.
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