Baylor Bears’ Jared Butler Believes Illinois Win Left Them Battle-Tested for Gonzaga Clash

Published 12/04/2020, 6:17 AM EST
Nov 28, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Baylor Bears guard Jared Butler (12) against the Louisiana-Lafayette RaginÕ Cajuns at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


The Baylor Bears have started their 2020-21 campaign with a bang. After two blowouts against Louisiana and Washington, they had a statement victory against Illinois. They beat the Fighting Illini in a convincing 82-69 in the Jimmy V Classic clash.

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Junior guard Jared Butler was ecstatic about this win. He spoke about how this sets them up well for their upcoming huge matchup against the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

“Huge win last night,” Butler said. “Playing against Illinois did a great service for us. They’re a great team and they kinda battle-tested us a little bit, and they helped us find our identity. Going into this game, we’re ready for another big game. It’s a great time of the season because you’re playing some hard tournament like games and this is where you find your identity as a team and we’re looking to do that again this weekend.”

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Can the Baylor Bears continue this momentum and beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs?

The Bears led by just a single point at halftime against the Fighting Illini. But they came in, all guns blazing in the second half, outscoring them 51-39. Butler struggled, going 6/18 from the field, including 0/4 from three. Davion Mitchell impressed with his sharpshooting going 4/5 from three.

Despite not being at their best, the #2 seeded Baylor overcame the #5 seeded Illinois. But now they have a bigger game coming up. The #1 seed, Gonzaga, has started their season 3-0, including wins against Kansas and WVU. They have been playing like contenders and will be the favorites going into this game.

Dec 2, 2020; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme (2) celebrates with teammates in the second half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest reasons for Baylor’s win was keeping Illinois star point guard Ayo Dosunmu in check. He was averaging 25.7 points while shooting 42% from three. But the Bears guarded him tightly, and he went 6/18 from the field, which ended up being his first game scoring lesser than 20 points.

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Nov 28, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Baylor Bears forward Flo Thamba (0) reacts as he does a Superman pose in front of his teammates prior to the game against the Louisiana-Lafayette RaginÕ Cajuns at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears need to be at their best when they face the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are 3-0 right now, but their defense has been leaky, giving away 90 points against Kansas and 82 against WVU. But they have been consistently outscoring opponents, so if the Bears can keep their defense tight, they will have a shot at victory.

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The Bears play the Bulldogs tomorrow afternoon at 1 pm in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Aaron Mathew

1667 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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