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Matthew Mayer plays for Jesus, helps Baylor basketball advance to NCAA's Sweet 16

The Baylor men’s basketball team, the No. 1 seed in the South region, will remain in Indianapolis for the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 after dispatching Hartford, 79-55, and Wisconsin, 76-63.

The Bears emerged unscathed amid a slew of upsets in the tournament’s first two rounds and remain one of the favorites to take home the title on April 5.

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Against Wisconsin on Sunday, Baylor jumped out to a lead midway through the first half and never trailed the rest of the way.

On a team loaded with stars, it was reserve wing player Matthew Mayer who sparked the Bears. Mayer — a junior from Austin, Texas, who’s averaged 8.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 15.5 minutes this season — scored a team-high 17 points and grabbed six rebounds. The 42.2 percent 3-point shooter this season also drilled two threes.

Mayer’s efforts, plus 16 points each from guards Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell, helped Baylor reach the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in program history.

All five of those trips have come under head coach Scott Drew, who took over the scandal-ridden program in 2003 and has gradually made Baylor a perennial contender. He’s done it by helping to build a culture of JOY in Waco. JOY is an acronym for “Jesus, Others, Yourself,” and is even posted in the team’s official Twitter bio.

“A lot of people have said when they’ve watched our team play, you can tell there’s genuine love for one another,” Drew said in a January press conference. “… The love and joy [the players] have for each other is definitely the key to our success.”

Mayer has said the Christian environment of Baylor basketball is one of the primary reasons he chose to join the Bears. He’s seen his role increase in his third season with the team, and after the win over Wisconsin, the team is 24-2.

“This season has been one of the best experiences of my life,” Mayer told Stadium’s Jeff Goodman last month. “It’s been a great teaching point and [shown me] how to win at life.”

Mayer shares his faith on social media, writing, “In Jesus name I play” in both his Instagram and Twitter bios.

 

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A post shared by Matthew Mayer (@matthewmayer_24)

Mayer, the rest of his teammates and Coach Drew will rely on that culture of JOY against No. 5 seed Villanova in the Sweet 16, as they seek Baylor’s first Elite Eight appearance since 2012. The game is set for Saturday at 5:15 p.m. ET on CBS.

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