2022 NCAA Tournament: Baylor opens defense of national championship with resounding victory over Norfolk State
james Akinjo of Baylor drives past Christian Ings of Norfolk State during their first-round game in the NCAA Tournament/Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Baylor won their eighth straight NCAA Tournament game as they dominated Norfolk State 85-49 in the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Dickie's Arena in Fort Worth.

The Bears were led by Matthew Mayer, who scored 22 points to go along with six rebounds, two steals and a block. Freshman Jeremy Sochan added 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

"I think i've had some pretty good ones, but I think that was a pretty good one", Mayer said of his performance. "This one was a lot easier I would say. 

"Because they were playing in a zone, and my teammates were just whipping the ball around and finding me, I really didn't feel like I had to do too much. I just stood there and my teammates found me."

"It was fun to watch", added coach Scott Drew. "Not many things to complain about for this game for sure. I think that was a conscious effort by everybody to come out a lot more aggressive in both halves and we did that and set the tone early."

Norfolk State (24-7) was led by guard Joe Bryant Jr., the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year, with 15 points. The Spartans, second in the country in field goal defense at 37.4 percent, allowed Baylor to shoot close to 56 percent.

"At some stretches, I think we let the moment get away from us", said coach Robert Jones. "It's uncharacteristic for us to give up 55 percent. We missed a lot of defensive rotations today for whatever reason."

Story of the game

Baylor made 11 three-pointers and led throughout. Adam Flagler hit  one of those 11 from distance and made a nifty floater in the lane to make it 5-0 early on.

Mayer, who was just one for 12 from three-point range in his last three games, hit three in a row in a two-minute stretch to give Baylor a 27-10 lead in the first nine and a half minutes.

Norfolk State, playing without second-leading scorer Jalen Hawkins for the first half due to a rules violation, cut a 19-point deficit down to 14 had a chance to cut into it even further, but Daryl Anderson missed a three and Bryant Jr. couldn't finish at the rim. 

Matthew Mayer of Baylor grabs a rebound over Joe Bryant Jr. of <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/ncaa/2021/03/16/college-basketball/1063739-mid-eastern-athletic-conference-championship-game-norfolk-state-defeats-morgan-state-to-reach-ncaa-tournament.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/ncaa/2021/03/16/college-basketball/1063739-mid-eastern-athletic-conference-championship-game-norfolk-state-defeats-morgan-state-to-reach-ncaa-tournament.html'>Norfolk State</a></strong> during their first-round <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/ncaa/2022/03/15/college-basketball/1105200-2022-southland-conference-championship-game-texas-am-corpus-christi-rallies-past-southeastern-louisiana-for-ncaa-tournament-bid.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/ncaa/2022/03/15/college-basketball/1105200-2022-southland-conference-championship-game-texas-am-corpus-christi-rallies-past-southeastern-louisiana-for-ncaa-tournament-bid.html'>NCAA Tournament</a></strong> game/Photo: Andy Hancock/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
Matthew Mayer of Baylor grabs a rebound over Joe Bryant Jr. of Norfolk State during their first-round NCAA Tournament game/Photo: Andy Hancock/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

That sequence led to a bizarre half-ending play that took all the momentum away from the Spartans as Sochan grabbed the rebound, but Terrance Jones punched the ball from behind.

The ball went all the way to the other end of the court, where a streaking Mayer picked up the loose ball and went in for a dunk that stretched the lead to 43-27.

Tyrese Jenkins hit from distance to cut the lead to 13 as the second half got underway, but Norfolk State never got any closer as Baylor cruised into the second round.