Baylor hung on for dear life in its semifinal victory in the Hall of Fame Classic. In the Bears’ 65-59 championship game victory over Creighton, they sprinted to the finish.
With the score tied 52-52 and two minutes remaining Tuesday, Baylor went on a 11-2 run with Terry Maston getting things started with his only three-pointer of the game.
Through this stretch, Creighton couldn’t get a deep shot to fall, missing four straight threes. A night after hitting 11 triples in a Monday semifinal victory over UCLA, the Jays went five of 30 from behind the arc on Tuesday.
Scoring leaders Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas combined to miss 16 of 19 from deep.
“If you had told me that going in, I’d have said we were going to get beat by 25,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.
But the Bluejays led for most of the game. The finishing push, however, belonged to No. 22 Baylor, which thrived on both ends of the floor in front of 10,160 at the Sprint Center.
“As a team, as a unit, talk about it in the huddle, trying to string as many stops together as we can,” said Baylor’s Jo Lual-Acuil Jr.
Lual-Acuil Jr. was there to collect several of the Jays’ misses. He had 15 rebounds to go with 15 points. The 7-foot senior was chosen the tournament’s most outstanding player.
The Bears (5-0) started the season with three victories over lesser opponents, but they knocked off Wisconsin and Creighton to win the event in the same building where they play in the Big 12 Tournament. Twice they’ve fallen in the conference championship game in Kansas City.
The stakes weren’t as high on Tuesday, but Baylor made a statement with the Hall of Fame title.
“Tournament games early in the year turn into defensive battles and perseverance,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
Baylor won its first Hall of Fame Classic. Creighton was bidding to become the first team with three titles in the event previously known as the Guardians Classic and CBE Classic. No. 23 UCLA beat Wisconsin 72-70 in the consolation game.
Next year’s tentative field includes Texas Tech, Nebraska, Missouri State and Southern California.