ATLANTA — It’s difficult to not notice Quincy Acy, and it’s not because of those hard-to-miss neon jerseys.
Well, it’s not all about them.
The 6-foot-7 senior provided one-armed highlight-reel jams, possession-ending rebounds and even an early jumper, leading Baylor to the Elite Eight for the second time in three seasons with a 75-70 win Friday night against Xavier at the Georgia Dome.
“Being that he’s probably one of the best dunkers in the nation – y’all probably seen the bench – we get excited,” said Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, who had 16 points and 10 assists, about Acy’s dunks. “On the defensive end, it just makes us want to get another one for him. Try to get another stop and get another one for Acy.”
Acy hit eight of his 11 shots, scoring 20 points and adding 15 boards as he accounted for almost 43 percent of Baylor’s rebounds.
The Bears (30-7) sprinted to a big lead early, scoring 22 of the game’s first 26 points. They later went ahead 33-16 with an Acy one-handed jam.
“He’s a cage-rattler. We knew that. He’s just – I want to see his birth certificate,” Xavier coach Chris Mack quipped. “He’s that kid, when you’re coaching AAU and you look over, and he just looks so much bigger and stronger than everybody.”
Acy – who clarified, he, in fact, just turned 21 in October – wasn’t the only high-percentage
shooter, as Perry Jones III made seven of his eight shots for Baylor.
However, despite the quick start, the Bears had to overcome Xavier surges to end both halves.
In the first half, Acy was charged with a Flagrant 1 foul on Kenny Frease.
The Xavier big man then scored four points in four seconds, hitting a pair of free throws and getting a layup.
It was the start of a 13-0 run that spanned most of the final 5:08 of the first half, and Frease scored eight of his 18 points during the run.
In the second half, Mark Lyons and Tu Holloway led the rally attempt.
After Jackson hit his third 3-pointer of the game and Acy put in another slam to make it 67-54 with 2:20 to go, the Xavier duo took charge.
Lyons ended his team’s game-long 3-point drought with two in less than a minute.
Holloway then tried to take over after posting his lone free throw miss on 10 attempts.
After failing to convert the front end of a 1-and-1 with 33 seconds to play, Holloway scored seven points the rest of the way, with a layup making it 73-70 with 12 seconds left.
But the Bears’ Brady Heslip then made two three throws – he hit all four attempts at the line in the last 18 seconds – as Baylor survived.
“It feels great,” Acy said. “We had thoughts at the beginning of the season that we really wanted to still be playing at this time. Here we are.”