During their redshirt season two years ago, MaCio Teague remembers watching Davion Mitchell hit 80-of-100 shots “every time I watched him in the gym.”
So, when Mitchell torched the nets with seven 3-pointers and a career-high 31 points in second-ranked Baylor’s 107-59 blowout victory over Kansas State Wednesday night, it was not all that surprising to Teague.
“His growth was really all mental,” said Teague, who added 18 points, six rebounds and five assists. “I would just say that he’s grown as a player, and his mind is really strong. He believes in himself, and the guys o n the team believe in him.”
And if they didn’t before, they certainly believe in him now.
Mitchell, whose previous high was 20 in last month’s 100-69 win over K-State (5-12, 1-8) in Manhattan, scored 22 in the second half alone. The junior guard was 7-of-9 from outside the arc and nailed three treys in a 73-second stretch late in the game that gave the Bears a 94-46 lead.
“We just love playing with each other, and they just kept finding me,” said Mitchell, who bumped his scoring average up to 12.8 points per game after averaging 9.9 last year. “It just feels like every shot you put up is going in, like the goal is bigger. It just feels great.”
After a tough three-game stretch that saw the Bears (15-0, 8-0) beat both Texas Tech and Kansas by eight and rally from a nine-point deficit to beat Oklahoma State on the road, this one had a different look pretty much from the start.
Teague, Mitchell and Adam Flagler each hit a 3-pointer in an 18-0 run that was capped by Jonathan Tchamwa Thcatchoua’s layup and follow free throw that gave Baylor a 20-2 lead less than 6 ½ minutes into the game. The Wildcats missed six of their first seven shots and had nearly a five-minute scoring drought.
“We talked about it in film, we had to get off to a fast start,” Mitchell said. “We listened in film, we got stops, we played really good defense to get those easy transition buckets, and the whole game they had to play catch-up.”
After Antonio Gordon ended Baylor’s first 18-0 run with a 3-pointer, the Bears reeled off another 18 in a row and went up 38-5 when Butler fed Tchamwa Tchatchoua for a layup off a Mitchell steal. Baylor scored 34 points of the Wildcats’ 21 turnovers.
“They’re really good, they’re undefeated for a reason” said K-State coach Bruce Weber, whose team has dropped eight-straight league games. “Unless something happens, they’re going to win the league and they’re a team that’s going to be playing late into March and into April, I would expect.”
The only blemish in a near-perfect first half came in the final two seconds when Gordon banked in a half-court shot after Butler turned it over, pulling K-State within 54-26 at the break.
“I just feel like everyone’s hitting half-court shots against us,” Mitchell said, referring to TCU hitting a last-second shot from 60 feet at the end of the first half. “And it’s always after a turnover. I was just like, ‘Man, why does this keep happening to us?”’
Not that this one was ever in doubt. Baylor strung together its third 18-0 run early in the second half, with Mitchell hitting back-to-back treys and then feeding Teague for a fast-break layup off a steal that made it 74-32.
As good as Mitchell was through the first 30 minutes of the game, he might have been at his collegiate best when he scored 14 points in a 3 ½-minute stretch. After draining a 3-pointer, he drove inside for a layup and then knocked down three-straight treys to give the Bears a stunning 48-oint lead.
“It reminded me of Makai (Mason) against TCU. MaCio’s had streaks like that, Jared Butler’s had streaks like that,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “That’s the great thing about this team is each and every night someone can get hot. This team really allows when someone gets hot to find him and keep him hot, rather than try to get their own. Davion’s worked so hard since he got here to work on his shooting and being a more consistent shooter. I think he showed that.”
Until Baylor’s 100-69 win over K-State on Dec. 19 in Manhattan, the Wildcats had not allowed 100 points in 13 years. The Bears have now done it twice in 39 days. This was the second time in school history and first time since 1979 (versus TCU) that Baylor has topped the 100-point mark twice against an opponent in the same season.
Jared Butler scored all 13 of his points in the first half and Matthew Mayer chipped in with 10 points for the Bears, who have a two-game lead over fifth-ranked Texas (11-3, 5-2) in the Big 12 standings.
Baylor dominated the boards, 41-23, shot a sizzling 60.7 percent from 3-point range (17-of-28) and doubled up the Wildcats on points in the paint, 44-22. Senior forward Mark Vital, who had eight points, five rebounds, three steals and a block, set a program record with his 40th Big 12 victory.
The 48-point margin was the Bears’ second-biggest ever, topped only by a 97-45 win over Texas A&M on Feb. 3, 2002. Baylor also scored its second-most points in a Big 12 game behind only the 116-110 five-OT victory at Texas A&M in 2008.
“Some nights, things are clicking for us. And tonight, they were clicking for us,” Drew said. “We thought it was really important for us to get off to a quick start. You can’t guarantee you’re going to shoot 61 percent from 3 and 17-of-28 very night, but when it happens, it’s sure fun to watch.”
Nijel Pack had 11 points and five rebounds to lead the Wildcats, who shot just 34.6 percent overall and 5-of-21 from outside the arc.