The first half of the NCAA Tournament championship game has been set — emphatically.
No. 1 Baylor was simply too much for Kelvin Sampson's 2-seed Houston team, outscoring the Cougars 45-20 in the first half and coasting to an easy 78-59 win in Saturday's first Final Four matchup.
Jared Butler was the star for a Bears team that produced five double-digit scorers. He produced 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting (4 of 5 from 3-point range), four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Davion Mitchell was also excellent, earning a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists. MaCio Teague (11 points), Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (11 points) and Matthew Mayer (12 points) also scored in double figures, the latter two off the bench.
Houston's best player was Marcus Sasser, who scored a game-high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting (5 of 9 on 3-point attempts), with four rebounds and two assists. Quentin Grimes overcame a scoreless first half to put up 13 points in likely his final collegiate game. No other player scored more than six points for the Cougars. Indeed, Sasser scored all but one of Houston's first-half field goals, and all but three of their points.
Baylor certainly looked the part of a 1 seed. Now the question is who it will face in the title game — Gonzaga or UCLA?
Sporting News tracked scoring updates and highlights from the first Final Four game. Below are complete results from the NCAA Tournament semifinals:
Baylor vs. Houston score
Baylor vs. Houston live updates, highlights from 2021 Final Four
All times Eastern
Second half: Baylor 78, Houston 59
7:15 p.m.: And that'll do it. Baylor wins 78-59 to advance to the national championship game.
7:12 p.m.: It's that part of the game where the cameras pan to the losing team's sideline. Grimes is showing a lot of emotion. He had a great year, but it wasn't meant to be.
7:10 p.m.: And now Macio Teague becomes the fifth Baylor player to score in the double digits (11 points) with that 3-pointer. It's 76-54 Baylor with 1:46 left to play.
7:08 p.m.: Mitchell gets his double-double with that 3 (12 points, 11 assists), making it 73-53 Baylor.
7:07 p.m.: Baylor leads Houston 70-51 at the last media timeout (3:48).
7:01 p.m.: A Grimes 3 (his first in seven attempts) gives him 13 points and makes it 68-49 Bears.
7 p.m.: It's now 64-41 Baylor, but that's less interesting than this stat: The Bears are outscoring Houston 28-4 in bench points.
6:54 p.m.: Not a ton going on, but Bears still have a sizable lead — 60-41 — at the third media timeout (7:47).
6:40 p.m.: Baylor's Mark Vital (two points, one rebound, one steal) has his fourth foul at the second media timeout (11:59).
6:40 p.m.: Speak of the devil.
6:39 p.m.: Houston is shooting considerably better this half and is chipping away at Baylor's lead. It's now 52-36 Bears. Now if Houston can make some stops. …
6:37 p.m.: It's 52-32 Baylor at the first TV timeout of the second half.
6:33 p.m.: A Sasser layup makes it 50-30 Baylor. Like trying to bail out a sinking boat with a thimble.
6:30 p.m.: Houston is credited with a turnover, giving B aylor the ball, but it does appear the Bears defender was the last to touch it out of bounds.
6:28 p.m.: And there's Grimes with his first bucket in six attempts, followed by a Jarreau bucket. Cougars are 3 of 4 from the field in the second half. The Bears still lead 49-26.
6:26 p.m.: Reggie Chaney gets only the second non-Sasser bucket for the Cougars in their opening possession of the half. It's 45-22 Baylor.
First half: Baylor 45, Houston 20
6:07 p.m.: First-half stats:
- Field goals: Baylor 16 of 28 (57.1 percent); Houston 7 of 26 (26.9 percent)
- 3 point: Baylor 8 of 15 (35.7 percent); Houston 5 of 14 (53.3 percent)
- Free throws: Baylor 5 of 7 (71.4 percent); Houston 1 of 2 (50 percent)
- Rebounds: Baylor 20; Houston 11
- Assists: Baylor 12; Houston 5
- Steals: Baylor 6; Houston 0
- Blocks: Baylor 0; Houston 3
- Turnovers: Baylor 6; Houston 9
Baylor's Butler and Houston's Sasser are tied for a game-high 17 points. Butler is 6 of 8 from the field and 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, adding four rebounds, two assists and a steal to his totals. Sasser is 6 of 11 from the field and 5 of 8 from 3-point land; he also has two rebounds.
The difference between the two scores: Sasser's teammates have a combined three points and one field goal, while Butler has gotten help from Mitchell (nine points) and the bench (17 combined points).
6:05 p.m.: Mitchell hits yet another 3 right before the half to make it 45-20 Baylor. It's called March Madness for a reason, but the second half is looking a lot like a mere formality here.
6:03 p.m.: Mitchell is called for a long 2 to make it 42-18. That's followed by a Houston bucket — from Sasser, of course — to make it 42-20.
6:01 p.m.: Houston's shot doesn't go — shocker — and Mayer gets a tough layup on the other end to make it 40-18.
6 p.m.: Gorham hits the first of a 1-and-1, but Baylor touches it out of bounds last. The Cougars have a chance at a desperately needed bucket down 20.
5:58 p.m.: Gorham is called for a travel right before attempting a layup and-one under the rim. He's not happy about that.
5:53 p.m.: A Butler layup is the last score before the final media timeout of the half. It's 38-17 Bears with 3:53 to play.
5:52 p.m.: Adam Flager's 3 makes it 36-17 Baylor. It's getting late a little early for Houston.
5:51 p.m.: Here's how incredible Sasser has been, and how irrelevant every other Cougar has been: He's 5 of 9 shooting with 15 points. Everyone else is 1 of 11 with two points. Not a winning combination.
5:50 p.m.: … And that's quickly followed by consecutive 3s from Butler. Sasser's keeping Houston in it, but Butler's keeping the Cougars at arms' length. That makes it 33-17 Baylor, and Sampson is forced to take his second timeout to stem the bleeding.
5:50 p.m.: Sasser has his fifth 3 of the game. He's incredible tonight. That makes it 27-17 Baylor.
5:48 p.m.: Houston has an easy defensive rebound but can't bring it in. So Mayer puts it in for an easy putback to make it 27-14 Baylor.
5:42 p.m.: Charbage in the Final Four? Butler gets an and-one layup with Justin Gorham getting a blocking foul. It's 25-14 Baylor. That's the score at the third media timeout of the half (7:48).
5:40 p.m.: Another 3 from Sasser. He's 4 for 7 in field goal shooting and 4 of 6 from 4. He's single-handedly keeping the Cougars in this game and shortens Baylor's lead to 22-14.
5:36 p.m.: A Butler 3 (he's 2 for 2) makes it 22-11 Baylor. Kelvin Sampson calls his first timeout at 10:40 left in the half; this is Houston's largest deficit of the tournament.
5:32 p.m.: Baylor leads 17-11 at the second media time out (11:52) 17-11. Baylor is 5 for 9 on field goals, while Houston's 4 of 10. Three of the Cougars' four shots have come from Sasser.
5:30 p.m.: Actually, there's another Sasser 3. He's 3 of 4 on field goals with nine points. That mercifully ends the Bears' 10-0 run and the Cougars' scoring drought. It's 16-11 Baylor.
5:28 p.m.: It's now a 10-0 Baylor run after Tchamwa Tchatchoua makes a pair of free throws. Houston, meanwhile, has more turnovers (four) than field goals (three).
5:28 p.m.: Houston has a scoring drought of over three minutes. Definitely going to want to get that corrected against a high-powered Baylor offense.
5:26 p.m.: Baylor leads 13-8 at our first media timeout with 14:15 remaining in the game. Houston is 2 for 6 from 3-point land, while Baylor is 3 for 3.
5:23 p.m.: And now a Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua jumper from the free throw line makes it 13-8 Baylor, the latest of a 7-0 run for the Bears.
5:22 p.m.: Now Baylor's Matthew Mayer gets in on the action with a 3. That makes it 11-8 Baylor.
5:20 p.m.: Another 3, this one by Housto's Sasser. That gives the Cougars an 8-6 lead (DeJon Jarreau jumper).
5:18 p.m.: And there's another 3 from Baylor's Davion Mitchell to give Baylor its first lead at 6-3. Three buckets in this one, and they're all 3s.
5:18 p.m.: And there's Jared Butler with his own 3 for Baylor to knot the game at 3-3.
5:17 p.m.: Marcus Sasser gets the first bucket of the game from 3-point land to make it 3-0 Houston. Baylor's ensuing possession ends in a travel.
5:16 p.m.: And Baylor's opening possession ends in a shot clock violation; Jared Butler's layup doesn't hit the rim, and the Bears can't get a rebound shot off in time. Also: Look at DeJon Jarreau jump over a grown man:
5:15 p.m.: Baylor wins the tip. Here we go.
5:14 p.m.: The teams have made their entrances. Now all that's left is to play some basketball.
Baylor vs. Houston start time
- Time: 5:14 p.m. ET | 2:14 p.m. PT
The Final Four game between Baylor and Houston is scheduled to tip-off at 5:14 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 3.
How to watch 2021 Final Four
CBS, which has exclusive broadcast rights for the 2021 Men's Final Four, will broadcast both Baylor-Houston and Gonzaga-UCLA on Saturday.
Those with a cable subscription can stream the game on March Madness Live, the online home of every 2021 NCAA Tournament game. The Final Four can also be streamed live with fuboTV, which offers a seven-day free trial.
March Madness Final Four schedule 2021
Saturday, April 3
|No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 2 Houston||5 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 11 UCLA||8:30 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
NCAA Tournament national championship
Monday, April 5
|Game 67: No. 1 Baylor vs. Gonzaga/UCLA||9 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|