Quincy Acy, Baylor top tourney-tested Xavier for spot in Elite Eight
With a win over Xavier, Baylor will make its second Elite Eight trip in three seasons
Quincy Acy has worked hard to expand his range past dunks -- and it showed
Xavier erased a sizeable second-half lead, but the Bears surged down the stretch
ATLANTA -- Xavier coach Chris Mack is certainly not the first -- nor will he be the last -- to say this about Baylor forward Quincy Acy.
"I want to see his birth certificate," Mack said after Acy scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead a 75-70 Baylor win that sent the Bears to the Elite Eight for the second time in three seasons.
Acy, with a beard straight out of Amish country and an at-rest persona that suggests an encyclopedic knowledge of the Matlock canon, looks at first like the old man on the court at the park who dominates with tethered-to-the-earth post moves learned over decades of schooling whippersnappers. Then Acy lifts off and produces some of the most violent, rim-rattling slams in the game. Even when he dunks 10 times in a game -- as he did against Texas two years ago, each slam seems incongruous considering Acy's grizzled features.
What really confused Mack on Friday wasn't an Acy dunk, but an Acy jumper. In the game's first minute, Acy showed off his range, drilling a mid-range jumper to give the Bears a two-point lead. They would never trail again, and Mack knew when he saw the shot fall that Baylor's best senior had come to play.
"I can take some of the offensive rebound put-backs, but when he starts facing up and hitting jump shots, it's not what the doctor ordered," Mack said. "It's not fair."
Acy, apprised of Mack's comments, feigned indignation as much as a deliriously happy soon-to-be-Elite-Eight participant could. "First of all, I was born in 1990," Acy said. "Twenty-one years old, just turned in October. Yeah, I hit a couple of 15-footers this year, and that hurts my heart because I worked on that all summer. I've hit three threes this year too. Sixty percent from beyond the arc."
Acy has spent countless hours in the offseason honing his skills to prove he is more than just a dunker. In Friday's second half, Acy did some of his best work on the defensive end. Though he gave up five inches and 40 pounds to Frease, Acy held the Xavier's giant to three rebounds. Frease did score 18, but Acy held him to six in the second half.
Brady Heslip, who transferred to Baylor from Boston College in 2010, said he has watched Acy's game mature the past two years. "It's really evolved," Heslip said. "It's a credit to him working hard."
But Acy's mentality hasn't changed. He's still the Bears' energy guy. Oh, and his dunking hasn't slipped a bit.
Perhaps the most emphatic of those dunks came Friday. Acy's Bears had stormed from the gates, taking a 14-2 lead before Xavier showed a pulse. Baylor stretched the lead to as much as 17, but Musketeers fought back, slicing the deficit to five with their first score of the second half. The Bears led by seven when an official handed guard A.J. Walton the ball on the baseline. Officials missed Heslip drive-blocking Xavier guard Mark Lyons into Frease, but Frease recovered just as Walton fired the ball toward the front of the rim. Acy and Frease leaped at the same moment.
The ball seemed wide of the mark, but Acy grabbed it with his right hand and threw it down over the 7-foot, 275-pound Frease. The dunk brought a huge smile to Acy's face, and it stopped the Baylor slide that had allowed Xavier to erase that monster lead.
"Yeah, about that," Baylor guard Pierre Jackson said. "Quincy got dunked on earlier in the game, so he redeemed himself. I gave him a hard time about that dunk he got dunked in. That's got to be number one on SportsCenter tonight. I approve of that dunk. It was Blake Griffin-ish."
The dunk stretched the lead, but it didn't put away the Musketeers. In fact, no lead the Bears could build was safe from a tournament-tested group determined to finally make the Elite Eight. The Bears led by 12 with 1:41 to go, but Xavier point guard Tu Holloway slashed the lead to three when he hit a three-pointer with 23 seconds remaining. Had Heslip missed the front end of a one-and-one, Xavier could have grabbed the ball with a chance to tie.
But Heslip made the first free throw. Then the second. Then he made two more.
In the stands, Janet Drew cheered. Janet is the mother of Baylor coach Scott Drew. Janet and Drew's father, Homer, have fought cancer together since the spouses were diagnosed within days of one another this past fall. Homer didn't make the trip, but Scott and the Bears wanted to make sure Janet's trek was worth her time. "That meant a lot because she's battled a lot and gone through a lot and probably shouldn't have come down, but my mom's the tough one in the family," Scott Drew said. "I know it was a long trip for her. She was worn out for getting here. I'm just proud that she was here and we could get a win for her. I think if we'd have lost and she had to drive back tomorrow, she'd have really hated me."
Now, Drew, Acy and the rest of the Bears will try to break through the ceiling they hit two years ago. Baylor led eventual national champion Duke with just under four minutes to play, but the Bears couldn't finish. Acy hopes this time will be different.
"We know how the taste felt in our mouth last time we were here," Acy said. "We don't want to go out with that same taste."
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