EnJOY it — the Baylor Bears are NCAA champions!!!!
Eighteen years ago, it all began with a simple press conference. Now, here we are: the Baylor Bears are the 2020-21 NCAA men’s basketball national champions!!!!
In what was billed as a “historically good” national title game match-up, head coach Scott Drew’s Bears blew out national No. 1 seed (and previously undefeated) Gonzaga, 86-70, to hoist the trophy for the program’s first national championship.
From the opening tip, the Bears showed that they were the nation’s best team, scoring the game’s first nine points and quickly building a double-digit lead. MaCio Teague sparked the Bears with 14 first-half points, while on the defensive end, Mark Vital, Flo Thamba and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua clamped down on Gonzaga’s vaunted front court.
When the Bulldogs cut the lead to nine, the Bears responded with three-pointer after three-pointer, stop after stop, and rebound after rebound in a true team effort. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Jared Butler led the way with 22 points, while Mark Vital pulled down 11 rebounds. In the waning minutes, Drew pulled the starters from the floor into a huge embrace that embodied the team’s culture of J.O.Y., and the Bears soon celebrated a national title.
When Drew was introduced as the Bears’ head coach on Aug. 22, 2003, his promises to “win NCAA tournament games” and aspirations to “win a national championship at Baylor University” struck many as outlandish. But as he cast the further vision about building a “family atmosphere” and a staff with the “work ethic, the integrity, and the commitment [for] success,” he was sharing the formula that would, over the next 18 years, prove to be promises kept in ways big and small.
Live from McLane — the exact moment @BaylorMBB became
NATIONAL. 🐻 CHAMPIONS. 🏆
(video via @jeremymann14)
— Baylor University (@Baylor) April 6, 2021
This year’s team was the perfect embodiment, navigating a distinct array of circumstances: from the disappointment of last year’s NCAA tournament cancellation to their best-ever preseason ranking (No. 2 behind Gonzaga), from looking almost unstoppable during a 18-0 start to dealing with an unprecedented three-week February pause due to COVID-19. When they came back, they found a way to overcome their first loss and win three top-25 games en route to their first Big 12 regular season title. They earned their first ever No. 1 national seed for the NCAA tournament and stayed poised in a three-week bubble, securing their first Final Four berth in the modern era before finally cutting down the nets as champions. Amidst unprecedented challenges and rarified air alike, they lived out a culture of J.O.Y. that elevated Jesus and others ahead of themselves, sharing that message on the biggest stage in their sport. Now, they’re national champions.
Sic ’em, Bears!