The Baylor Bears entered the championship round of the Maui Invitational boasting the longest winning steak in college basketball, dating back to their NIT Tournament championship run last season. The nine-game winning streak has been tumultuous to say the least. Baylor has continually played down to their competition, especially in their previous contest against Charleston Southern.
The Bears would look to put an end to their pedestrian play against the host school; the Chaminade Silver Swords. The Bears and the Silver Swords spent the first half in a shooting duel from outside. The two teams would make the first 11 three-point attempts in the game.
Leading the charge for the Silver Swords was senior guard Christophe Varidel. Varidel was a member of Florida Gulf Coast last season, and elected to transfer to Chaminade to explore the wonders of Hawaii. Baylor’s defense looked content in the first half to allow Varidel to get any shot that he wanted. Varidel had 31 points in the first half, 12 shy of Adam Morrison’s tournament record.
Baylor usually relies on the hot-handed Brady Heslip to get them out of the deep holes they put themselves into, but Varidel’s clip could not be overcome by one man. Senior Gary Franklin helped Heslip shoulder the load, as the two were able to offset Varidel’s impressive first half.
With a 50-47 halftime lead, it appeared that the Baylor Bears would continue to play down to their competition. Baylor would right their ship. The Bears would play to their potential and smoked the Silver Swords by a score of 93-77.
A 10-game winning streak is nothing to scoff at. Neither is Baylor’s No. 3 overall RPI ranking and their No. 21 ranked strength of schedule. If Baylor has any hope of extending their winning streak down the stretch, they have to play to their potential for 40 minutes. The Bears have had flashes of brilliance, but consistency will be what cuts the nets down in March.