SALT LAKE CITY — Like most basketball teams these days, Syracuse and Baylor enjoy shooting 3-point shots. During the regular season, about 40 percent of each team’s field goal tries came from long range.
The two teams took it to a new level in the first half of Thursday’s first-round game at Vivint Arena. Baylor was 10 of 18 from 3-point range and Syracuse sank 9 of 17 long balls. That means 78 percent of all the shots taken in the first half were from beyond the arc, a dizzying pace if there ever was one.
Each team dialed it back a little in the second half, but both still ended up shooting over 60 percent of their field goals from 3-point range.
In the end, the Bears were just a little better in sinking 16 of 34 long-range shots compared to 12 of 29 for the Orange. The two teams combined for 28 3-point makes, just missing the NCAA record of 30.
“We thought we could get looks if we executed and it was important we knocked down shots,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “We made shots and that makes the offense work a lot better against the zone."
The Baylor guards shot over the famed Syracuse zone all night as Jared Butler sank 4 of 9, Makai Mason made 4 of 10, King McClure sank 3 of 9 and Devonte Bandoo made 2 of 3 off the bench for the Bears.
“Sixteen of 34 — you have to have good guard play to win in March and we’re blessed to have very good guard play and make us coaches look good,” said Drew.
During the season, the Bears had never shot more than 31 threes in a game and never made more than 15. When asked if it was part of his team’s game plan to shoot that many 3-pointers, Drew said, “I told them they could shoot 40 today. I did want to make 25, though, so we were a little short on both fronts.”Comment on this story
GAME NOTES: Despite coming from a basketball family, Baylor’s Scott Drew is one of just two head coaches in the NCAA Tournament who never played to at least the high school varsity basketball level. A report on ESPN ranked all the coaches from 1 to 68 with former St. John’s standout and current St. John’s coach Chris Mullin coming in at No. 1 . . . Baylor guard Makai Mason is a graduate transfer from Yale and he now has the distinction of winning an NCAA with Baylor and defeating Baylor in an NCAA game, which he did as a freshman in 2016 . . . Attendance at the evening session was 16,807 . . . Two Utah Jazz players are former Baylor players — Royce O’Neale and Ekpe Udoh.