INDIANAPOLIS — — The No. 2 Baylor Bears pulled away late for an 82-69 victory over No. 5 Illinois Fighting Illini in a Top five clash at the Jimmy V Classic on Wednesday night.
Adam Flagler scored 18 points to lead Baylor on 6 of 11 shooting, as three of his teammates also scored in double figures in the win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Davion Mitchell added 15 points on 5 of 8 shooting, including four 3-pointers, dished out seven assists and grabbed four rebounds, while Jared Butler ended with 12 points and MaCio Teague chipped in with 11 for the Bears (3-0), who scored 17 points off turnovers.
Mitchell was please to see that the work put in by Flagler and Tcahmwa Tchatchoua, who collected nine points and nine rebounds, was becoming fruitful.
“Those guys are in the gym more than anyone so we kind of expect that from those guys,” he said. “It wasn’t really a surprise for us.”
Ayo Dosunmu led Illinois with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists, and Giorgi Beshanishvili added 15 points on 7 of 10 shooting from the floor for Illinois (3-1).
“They fight like dogs for 40 minutes,” Beshanishvili admitted. “When you make mistakes, even the littlest mistakes, they cost you a lot.”
Andre Curbelo finished with 11 points in the defeat for the Fighting Illini, who shot 44.1% overall and led seven times in the game before Baylor used a 9-0 run to pull away.
“The last two games I thought our offense was further along than our defense,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, who watched his team’s first two games in quarantine for of a COVID-19 positive test.
“I think our defense has caught up more to where we were last year and you know you’re going to need it to play like that every night to win games.”
Illinois coach Brad Underwood was disappointed with the defeat.
“It was a frustrating night,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to learn. I’m disappointed in our loose balls in the second half, but give credit to them.”
Illinois will host UT-Martin on Saturday.
Baylor will now prepare for Saturday’s big showdown against No. 1 Gonzaga.