No.6 Baylor defeats Michigan State 75-58 for Atlantis title
PARADISAL ISLAND, Bahamas
James Akinjo scored 15 points and No.6 Baylor opened the game after halftime to beat Michigan State 75-58 on Friday for the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship.
The reigning national champions led just 38-36 at the break. But they started to take control in the opening minutes of the second half, throwing defensive looks across the pitch at the Spartans and capitalizing on their mistakes.
The Bears used an 8-0 run to stretch to a double-digit lead, ending when Akinjo circled an in-bounds pass thrown against pressure from Tyson Walker and buried a 3-pointer to carry the score at 55-42 with 13:57 to go. .
Baylor (7-0) never left Michigan State in single digits again, dropping to 6-0 all-time at Atlantis to return to their 2016 championship run.
Freshman Kendall Brown added 12 points on a 6-7 shot for the Bears, who shot 49% and four players scored in double digits. Akinjo was selected MVP of Atlantis.
Gabe Brown scored 13 points for the Spartans (5-2), who shot only 37% and missed all seven of their 3 points after halftime. Michigan State also committed 19 turnovers for the game.
Baylor: The Bears defeated Arizona State 75-63 in the first round on Wednesday, then drove to a 69-61 victory over VCU in Thursday’s semifinal, with that result marking their first game decided by a single-digit margin. They seemed to be heading for another close one, but their poise and athleticism allowed them to pounce when the Spartans made mistakes. Baylor has now won 13 straight titles since last year’s title in the Indianapolis bubble.
Michigan State: The Spartans hadn’t lost since falling to fourth-seeded Kansas in the Champions Classic opener. They had to fight their way through their first two games in the Bahamas by beating Loyola Chicago 63-61 on a last-second dunk from Marcus Bingham Jr., then beating No.22 UConn 64-60 in closing the game. on a 9-0 series. But they couldn’t counter Baylor’s depth after half-time.
A GOOD PRESAGE?
If recent history is any indication, the Bears could have another title in the future.
Villanova won the 2017 Atlantis title and won a second NCAA Championship in three seasons the following April in San Antonio. Then Virginia followed the same route, winning here in 2018, then winning the program’s first national title in 2019 in Minneapolis.
But the 2019 winner Michigan didn’t have a chance to test the trend once the 2020 NCAA tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which ultimately put the Atlantis tournament on hiatus for a year.
Baylor: The Bears have a week off before hosting Arkansas-Pine Bluff on December 4.
State of Michigan: The Spartans host Louisville for the ACC / Big Ten challenge on Wednesday.
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