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Dunk contest fueling undefeated Baylor men’s basketball


With 13:30 remaining in No. 2 Baylor’s 84-72 home win over Auburn on Saturday, Matthew Mayer — the team’s popular, floppy-haired reserved — flew into the lane for a tip-dunk that made ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla scream, “Oh, my goodness!”

The Baylor bench erupted too.

For Mayer, however, the dunk also helped him gain the edge over teammate and All-America candidate Jared Butler — who missed the 3-pointer that led to Mayer’s flush — in their running competition to see who can get the most dunks this year.

“They really weren’t boxing out and I just went in and got the putback dunk,” said Mayer, who scored 13 points, during the postgame teleconference. “Me and [Butler] have a competition on who can get the most dunks, and he thinks he’s going to get more than me. I mean, he plays more minutes than I do, but c’mon. [After that dunk], he’s like, ‘OK, you beat me now, you beat me now.’ I was like, ‘I’m already beating you.’ That was [our] conversation running up the court.”

For a 16-0 Baylor team that is now 41-3 over its past 44 games dating back to last season, the celebration also showcased the bond that has helped this group enter the final stretch of the 2020-21 season as a serious contender to win the national title.

“It was crazy,” said Baylor’s Adam Flagler about the frenzy that followed Mayer’s dunk in the second half of Saturday’s victory. “We were all super excited for him. He’s a big-time talent, and he showed that tonight a little bit.”

Mayer also is an example of the depth Baylor possesses. He has played more than 20 minutes just once this season because of the talent ahead of him on the roster — but he has still left his mark.

“I know they only count as two points, a dunk, but the momentum from the dunk, the energy … it just permeates throughout the team,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “It helps you build on a run. It just changes the momentum of a game.”

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