Baylor edges Jackrabbits in tourney debut


For their first time in the NCAA Tournament, the Jackrabbits were in it right to the end.

That’s all most mid-majors will ever ask for when in that situation.

However, the Jackrabbits played far from their best and that aspect will likely haunt them for at least the considerable future as the third-seed Baylor Bears held on to defeat 14-seed SDSU, 68-60, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M. on Thursday night.

For the majority of the night, SDSU (27-8) had trouble executing on offense, falling victim to their own misfortunes rather than what Baylor did directly to the Jackrabbits. The majority because SDSU jumped out an 8-0 lead on a jumper by Jordan Dykstra and a pair of three pointers by Brayden Carlson and Griffan Callahan and Baylor responded with a timeout to take the pro-SDSU crowd out of the game.

The game changed from there as the Bears (28-7), mounted a 19-3 run in the midst of the first half and gained the lead that they would never relinquish, heading into halftime leading 36-28.

“They were more physical, and that just shouldn’t have happened,” SDSU coach Scott Nagy said. “I thought once they settled down, they really whipped us physically.”

The physical whipping never really went away but the Jackrabbits climbed back into the game. Carlson hit a layup to pull the Jacks within three with over 12 minutes left before a Baylor coach Scott Drew deployed another tactical timeout to take the steam out of the SDSU run. It worked, as Baylor’s lead swelled back to 11 and then back to 10 with 3:59 to go.

Baylor took care of business where they had to dominate SDSU — on the glass. The Bears made it look easy against the smaller Jacks, finishing with a 35-23 advantage on the boards that felt like more when all was said and done.

“We came into this game expecting to win, and we had our chances. They just beat us up on the rebounds and we lost our opportunity,” Chad White said, who finished the game with 15 points. Nate Wolters led all scorers with 19 points and Baylor’s Pierre Jackson finished with 18 points.

It will sting for a while for the Jackrabbits, who saw their chances of dancing deep into March extinguished in one night. Flatly, SDSU played a top-10 team in the nation to the wire in the NCAA Tournament. That is something to build on, especially for a team that has never danced like this before.

“It’s just an amazing experience for me. Yeah, I’ll never forget it. I’m happy to be a part of it,” said Griffan Callahan, the Jackrabbits’ lone senior, who Nagy says wil be

“This is the best team we’ve ever played at South Dakota State. We know that, we knew it going in … We’re just really frustrated that we didn’t play our best.” Nagy said.