The Baylor Bears have had to rely on some second half Maui mojo the last two nights to advance to the Maui Invitational championship game. In the quarterfinals against Chaminade, Baylor held a three point halftime lead and managed to pull away in the second half to win 93-77. The semifinal matchup against the Dayton Flyers was a much closer affair, as Baylor trailed by double digits for a majority of the contest. Baylor was able to whittle down the lead in the second half to escape with the 67-66 victory.
In the championship round against the Syracuse Orange, the Bears found themselves in familiar territory with a poor first half showing. Facing an eight point deficit, Baylor would have to try and overcome their inability to hang onto the basketball. Baylor was a turnover machine on the night as their 20 turnovers were a season high. Coupled with Syracuse shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 90.9 percent from the line, Baylor faced an uphill battle in their quest for a championship.
Baylor could not pull off the comeback against Syracuse. The 74-67 loss marked the second loss for the Big 12 Conference on the night to a top ten opponent. The other loss came earlier on the night with West Virginia falling to Wisconsin 70-63.
Baylor has lived dangerously all season long and finally got burned by a Syracuse team that has never lost a game in the Maui Invitational. The consistency factor is an issue moving forward for Baylor head coach Scott Drew. The positives outweigh the negatives for the Bears moving forward as some key players found some momentum in the tournament.
My tournament MVP for the Bears is Ish Wainright. Earlier in the season I wrote an article discussing his struggles in the starting lineup, but he made strides in the tournament. Wainright has appeared to earn the trust of his head coach, earning valuable minutes over sharpshooter Brady Heslip as the tournament progressed. His offensive skill set is lacking, but he is a defensive juggernaut. Wainright chased the Dayton Flyers off the three point line in the semifinals, preventing the Flyers from putting the game out of reach.
After a hard fought tournament, the Bears will remain idle until Sunday when they play Hardin-Simmons.