Point guard Makai Mason scored 22 points, and ninth-seeded Baylor hit a season-high 16 3-point shots to beat eighth-seeded Syracuse 78-69 Thursday night in an NCAA Tournament West Region first-round game at Salt Lake City.
Mason scored 16 of his points in the first half but was scoreless in the second half until hitting a key jumper with 2:43 left after he grabbed the rebound of his own miss. The basket gave the Bears a 72-67 lead.
He put in two free throws at the 1:09 mark for a seven-point advantage. Mason made two more foul shots for the game’s final points with 31.4 seconds to go.
The teams battled from the 3-point arc for much of the game, combining to hit 28 from long distance, but Syracuse faltered late — making one of its last 10 attempts — to give Baylor breathing room.
The 28 3-pointers set an NCAA Tournament record for a non-overtime game.
Baylor (20-13) will play top-seeded Gonzaga in the second round on Saturday in Salt Lake City.
Syracuse (20-14) saw the end of its streak of first-round victories in its past eight NCAA Tournament appearances. The Orange shot 12 of 29 from 3-point range.
Junior forward Elijah Hughes scored a career-high 25 points for the Orange. Tyus Battle had 16.
Mason, playing through a foot injury, made 4 of 10 3-point attempts. Baylor’s Jared Butler drilled 4 of 9 from deep en route to 14 points. Mario Kegler scored 13 for Baylor, which wound up 16 of 34 from behind the arc.
It was a one-possession game for nearly the first 12 minutes of the second half until Mark Vital’s put-back gave Baylor a 62-57 lead. That was part of an 11-2 Baylor run for a 68-59 lead. Hughes went on a personal 6-0 run to make it 68-65.
The first half was a shooting showcase, with Baylor eking out a 38-37 lead at the half. The Bears hit 10 of 18 3-point shots over the first 20 minutes while Syracuse was 9 of 17.
Baylor came out firing against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense, hitting five of its first seven 3-point shots, including a banked trey from Butler, to take a 15-4 lead.
Syracuse joined the barrage, drilling five consecutive 3-point attempts to get within 20-19. The teams combined for 12 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes.
Syracuse played without senior point guard Frank Howard, who was suspended because of a “violation of athletic department policy,” the school announced Wednesday.
—Field Level Media