SAN ANTONIO – It wasn't a display of the prettiest basketball ever. As a matter of fact, it was downright ugly at times, even rivaling Baylor's neon yellow uniforms, which looked like something Oregon might have rejected.
But despite the questionable Day-Glo fashion statement, the sixth-seeded Bears were bigger, longer, stronger and more athletic than 11th-seeded Nebraska in the their opening 74-60 West Regional victory Friday.
In a game in which both teams struggled to shoot for long stretches, it was the Bears' size and rebounding that was the difference. Baylor outrebounded their former Big 12 rivals 37-25, with Royce O'Neale leading the way with 10 rebounds, Isaiah Austin grabbing seven, and Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers each getting six. No Nebraska player had more than five.
"We're blessed to have a lot of length and size inside and depth," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "And each of them possesses something different they bring to the table. That's what you need because different games you might need a bigger, stronger guy. In another game, you might need more length. So it's great to have options. At the end of the day, it's usually positive, so that depth is important."
Baylor led 29-16 at the half, shooting an unsightly 33.3 percent from the floor. But it looked like a team of All-Americans compared to the Cornhuskers, who hit 6-of-26 shots (23.1 percent) and struggled against the Bears' zone. The fact that Nebraska ended up outshooting Baylor 42.6 percent to 40.5 percent for the game and still lost by 14 simply served to illustrate the athletic disparity, as did the difference at the free-throw line. The more aggressive Bears hit 38 of 48 free throws; the Cornhuskers converted 10 of 16.
"[It's all about] the win, no matter how you get it, pretty ugly, nasty," Drew said. "This time of the year it's all about surviving and advancing."
Nebraska coach Tim Miles was ejected with 11:17 remaining in the second half after collecting his second technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. Apparently he was upset over a shot clock error that was confirmed by referee Karl Hess after the game.
"Prior to the second technical foul call, there was a shot clock error that both the shot clock operator and officials did not notice," Hess said in a statement. "The error should have been noticed and could have been corrected."
Baylor's uniforms were certainly noticed, but let it be known the Bears were perfectly fine with them.
"We just like to look good," O'Neale said. "Look good, play good."
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