Baylor's All-Decade Teams
We were so inspired by Cuttin' in the Baylor Line's Justin Cange's top 10 All-Decade moments yesterday, that we, too, will take a nostalgic look back at the decade. After much deliberation and suggestions, we now will reveal our Baylor basketball ALL-DECADE TEAMS. Each of the three teams consist of five players (regardless of position). Then, we added an offensive player, defensive player and sixth man of the decade. As we look back at the first decade of the millennium, we certainly think that the next 10 years of Baylor basketball will be even better than the last...
Guard - Curtis Jerrells (2005-2009)
Guard - DeMarcus Minor (2000-2001)
Forward - Terry Black (2000-2001)
Forward - Lawrence Roberts (2002-2003)
Forward - Kevin Rogers (2005-2009)
Guard - Aaron Bruce (2004-2008)
Guard - LaceDarius Dunn (2007-present)
Forward - Terrance Thomas (2003-04)
Forward - Harvey Thomas (2004)
Forward - Ekpe Udoh (2009)
Guard - John Lucas III (2002-2003)
Guard - Tweety Carter (2006-present)
Guard - Matt Sayman (2001-2004)
Guard Henry Dugat (2005-2009)
Center - Mamadou Diene (2005-2009)
Offensive Player of the Decade: Curtis Jerrells
Kangaroos in Tennis Shoes with Killer Instinct
On the bus ride to the airport Tuesday afternoon, head coach Scott Drew distributed reading material - an excerpt from Chris Ballard's new book, The Art of a Beautiful Game: The Thinking Fan's Tour of the NBA. The players (as well as staff members) were asked to read the selected article which discussed Kobe Bryant's 'killer instinct'. That article about Kobe's killer instinct translated to a H-U-G-E 23-point road victory over Arkansas Wednesday night in North Little Rock.
And, yes, per NCAA home/away/neutral site designations, Wednesday's game was considered an Arkansas road game since it provided the game operations staff, etc. We won't argue that...Road wins do much more for the RPI than neutral site (wins).
ESPN color analyst Jimmy Dykes deserves credit for the other part of this morning's latest blog entry headline. Dykes, after a Quincy Acy jam, commented that Baylor "has jumping jacks around the rim...Kangaroos in tennis shoes..." Dykes and Texan Carter Blackburn both suggested that - after watching the Bears play Wednesday night - Baylor is the third-best team in the Big 12 behind Kansas and Texas.
Baylor's killer instinct began to surface when the Bears opened the second half firing on all cylinders, scoring seven quick points to force an Arkansas 30-second timeout. More impressive was Baylor's ability to completely shut down Arkansas' offense. Of the 11,162 fans in attendance Wednesday night, maybe 1,000 or so wore green and gold. But, during Baylor's second-half surge, you would have thought it was a Ferrell Center home game as the Baylor fans out-cheered the 10,000-plus Arkansas fans at Verizon Arena. And, as anyone in attendance can attest, Verizon Arena gets LOUD.
Not only was a national TV audience able to watch two of the nation's premier three-point shooters - Arkansas' Rotnei Clarke and Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn - they also had the opportunity to see one of the nation's most underrated power forwards...Ekpe Udoh. During shootaround Wednesday afternoon, Dykes commented that Ekpe was one of his five impact transfers so far this season. Just when you think Ekpe can't do any more destruction to Baylor's single-season and career record books, think again:
UDOH AMONG GARY PARRISH'S DARKHORSES
Parrish on his darkhorse candidates: "That list starts with Kansas State's Jacob Pullen...And I left a recent trip to Waco really impressed with [Baylor's Ekpe] Udoh, a 6-foot-10 transfer from Michigan who is getting 14.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.9 blocks for the better-than-most-realize team Scott Drew has assembled. I know this sounds crazy, but it's possible Udoh could by March be considered the best post player in the Big 12 despite the presence of [Kansas' Cole] Aldrich and Dexter Pittman..."
To properly conclude the early morning post, it's time to look 'BEYOND THE BOX SCORE':
Kangaroos in Tennis Shoes with Killer Instinct may sound like a book from the library of Dr. Seuss, but it has become the best descriptor for the Baylor Bears...up to this point. There aren't many teams that can boast two three-point shooters that can score at will, a rebounding and blocking machine that is averaging a double-double through 11 games and a man by the nickname of The Cookie Monster with the motor of the Energizer Bunny.
As this decade enters its last 24 hours, we will reveal our highly anticipated All-Decade first, second and third teams later today. Now it's time to recharge the batteries before enjoying another day of air travel. Enjoy the win, BaylorNation. We will certainly enjoy it the only way we know how...
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
From Central Texas to Central Arkansas
Tuesday's weather outside was frightful as we fought through the rain, sleet and snow to reach the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in early fashion...and then watch flight after flight flash CANCELLED on the TV monitors throughouth the concourse, including the flight before and after ours destined for Little Rock. Alas, after waiting 30 extra minutes for our flight crew to de-plane its previous aircraft, we made it to Central Arkansas a little later than we expected. But we managed to survive the very turbulent flight to The Land of A.J. Walton.
Just this morning, we've been asked by two hotel employees if we knew A.J. Walton. In a few words, during his high school days, A.J. was 'the man' on the court in Little Rock. In this morning's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas beat writer Bob Holt asked A.J. about his one-night homecoming, just a week after he was home for Christmas break. Tonight, A.J. will walk into Verizon Arena for the second time, but the first as a basketball player. His first time came just this past May when he graduated from Little Rock's Hall High School.
RIVALS.COM'S JASON KING BELIEVES IN 'THE NIGHTMARE'
SET YOUR DVR FOR AN INSTANT CLASSIC: BAYLOR'S 5OT WIN IN 2008 TO AIR NEW YEAR'S DAY ON ESPN CLASSIC
NINE DAYS, NINE BLOCKS
FCP ALL-DECADE TEAMS TBR (TO BE REVEALED)
SPEAKING OF DECADES...
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: ARKANSAS
DECEMBER SUCCESS UNDER DREW
LAST TIME OUT VS. ARKANSAS (JAN. 5, 2008)
Tonight's game will tip officially (in TV terms) at 8:05 p.m. CST on ESPN2 with Carter Blackburn (pxp) and Jimmy Dykes (analyst) serving as the talent for the ESPN production. If you recall, Dykes called our NIT game vs. Georgetown in Waco last March. If you are in Little Rock, be sure to visit the Wyndham Riverfront for a Pre-Game Rally and Send-Off, courtesy of the Baylor Sports Network, at 5 p.m.
Don't forget to turn down the sound on your TV and turn up the volume on your radio dial to 1660 ESPN with The Voice of the Baylor Bears John Morris and the man that needs no introduction, Pat Nunley.
Eighteen-Game December Winning Streak
The Fightin' Baylor Bears enter Wednesday's neutral-site game with a 9-1 record and an EIGHTeen-game winning streak in the month of December. Baylor's December winning streak began in 2006 after back-to-back losses to Syracuse and South Carolina. Since then, the Bears posted nine 90-point games during the December streak...Teams that have fallen to the Bears over the last 18 December games include:
2006: Prairie View A&M, North Carolina A&T, Delaware State; 2007: Mississippi Valley State, Wayland Baptist, (@) South Carolina, (@) Southern, Prairie View A&M, Florida A&M; 2008: (@) Washington State, Prairie View A&M, UT Arlington, Hartford, Portland State, Jackson State; 2009: (@) Arizona State, Jackson State, UT Arlington.
Wednesday will be Baylor's first neutral site game in December during the 18-game winning streak.
The last eight days of Baylor Basketball in summary form:
7. Homecourt Winning Streak
Baylor basketball is leaving today for Little Rock...Our departure time was bumped up just a tad in an effort to avoid the predicted wintry weather that will hit Central Texas sometime this afternoon. Want updates on the Baylor Bears? Be sure to follow your favorite Baylor basketball blog - ahem, us - on Twitter.
Hey BaylorNation, are you planning to go the game Wednesday at Verizon Arena? Don't forget about the Baylor Sports Network's Pre-Game Rally and Send-Off at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel. Pre-registration is required...You can do that online or by calling toll-free, (866) 281-9444.
Seven Straight at the Golden Dome
Baylor will play its fourth neutral site game of the 2009-10 season Wednesday when the Bears face old Southwest Conference rival Arkansas in North Little Rock, Ark. After that, the Bears travel to Columbia, S.C., to face the Gamecocks on Jan. 2. Upon its return to Waco, Baylor will defend its SEVEN-game homecourt winning streak Jan. 6 in the Ferrell Center vs. Morgan State. Baylor is 6-0 at home this season and has won seven straight at home, dating back to its 74-72 NIT win over Georgetown in March.
ESPN's Jimmy Dykes served as the color analyst for that game against the Hoyas...and he will serve as the analyst for Wednesday's game with the Razorbacks.
Here's our daily 13 Days of Baylor Basketball Countdown summary...
SEVEN-game homecourt winning streak
It's all downhill from here...We'll reveal EIGHT Tuesday, NINE Wednesday and throw in a little wrinkle New Year's Eve Thursday for number TEN.
Six Out of 10 Isn't Bad...
Earlier this afternoon, we announced that Tweety Carter was voted one of the best male high school athletes of the decade in New Orleans by The Times-Picayune. In Baylor's last game Dec. 20 - a 94-63 win over UTA - Carter recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 10 assists. Why do we mention that? As we continue our epic journey of the 13 Days of Basketball Basketball, day six features SIX double-doubles by Ekpe Udoh:
Through the season's first 10 games, Udoh has six double-doubles, five more than he recorded in 67 career games with the Michigan Wolverines. How impressive are Udoh's numbers thus far? Dos Tres, Kevin Rogers, notched eight double-doubles in 39 games last season. Six out of 10 isn't bad...at all.
Let's recap what we've covered so far...
We're halfway there. Well, sort of.
Tweety Finishes Fourth in Voting for The Times-Picayune's Male High School Athlete of the Decade
Senior Tweety Carter, the first McDonald's All-American in Baylor history, finished fourth in online voting for The Times-Picayune's Male High School Athlete of the Decade Sunday. Carter received 7.17 percent of the more than 700 votes that were submitted. USC tailback Joe McKnight narrowly defeated former LSU and current Jacksonville State quarterback Ryan Perrilloux for the high school athlete of the decade crown. McKnight garnered 34.48 percent of the votes, while Perrilloux tallied 32 percent. Georgetown center Greg Monroe finished third with 15 percent of the vote.
A six-year varsity letterwinner at Reserve (La.) Christian, Carter scored a U.S.-record 7,457 career points and scored 5,748 points in four varsity seasons.
Playing Catch-Up with Four 20-Point Scorers and Udoh's Five Four-Block Games
We wish you a belated Merry Christmas. Hopefully, BaylorNation has enjoyed its holiday season so far. We even had a white Christmas Eve in Central Texas - a great way to conclude 2009. Now, we are playing catch-up with days four and five on our 13 Days of Baylor Basketball Countdown.
Last season, Baylor had five different 20-point scorers (Curtis Jerrells, Henry Dugat, LaceDarius Dunn, Tweety Carter, Kevin Rogers) in 39 games...This season, Baylor already has FOUR 20-point scorers (Dunn, Carter, Quincy Acy, Ekpe Udoh) in 10 games, along with FIVE four-block games by Ekpe 'The Nightmare' Udoh. Udoh has 39 blocls in 10 games and has eclipsed Quincy Acy's team-leading 34 blocks from a season ago.
Since it's been a few days, here's a recap of our 13 Days of Baylor Basketball thus far:
FIVE four-block games by Ekpe Udoh
Mr. Udoh will make another appearance on the countdown Sunday with number six...Hint: He recorded his sixth in Baylor's 94-63 blowout win over UTA on Dec. 20. The players returned to Waco Saturday and will hit the court Sunday for practice to begin preparations for Wednesday's ESPN2 game vs. Arkansas. Don't know about the rest of BaylorNation, but we're ready for hoops to resume.
Three 90-point Games and Three Straight 9-1 Starts
106-45 over Hardin-Simmons. 90-60 over Jackson State. 94-63 over UT Arlington. The latter score gave Baylor its THIRD 90-point game this season and its THIRD straight 9-1 start.
To recap our 13 Days of Baylor Basketball thus far:
THREE 90-point games and THREE straight 9-1 starts
Three days down, 10 more to go...It's Christmas Eve. We'll take the rest of the day off and return tomorrow as we continue our 13 Days of Baylor Basketball. Have suggestions for who should make our BAYLOR MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM OF THE DECADE? Be sure to E-mail or tweet them to us.
The 12 Days (Plus 1) of Baylor Basketball, Day Two
On Tuesday, we debuted our new 13-day blogworthy column, The 12 Days (Plus 1) of Baylor Basketball. We continue our story Wednesday with the second day of Baylor Basketball. On the second day of the Christmas break, the Baylor basketball team gave to me...
The TWO-hundredth Ferrell Center victory and a trip to Hawai`i in 2010
BAYLOR BOUNCES JACKSON STATE, 90-60, AND POSTS WIN #200 AT FERRELL [DEC. 15]
MEN'S HOOPS HAWAI`I BOUND IN 2010 [DEC. 22]
Two days down, 11 more to go. Thursday's HINT: 90. Towards the end of our 13-day journey, we will unveil our own BAYLOR MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM OF THE DECADE. Have suggestions on who you think should be included? E-mail or tweet them to us.
Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka
Don't know the lyrics to the Hawaiian Christmas song, Mele Kalikimaka? That's ok because you have about 365 days to learn the lyrics...Around 10 p.m. CST this evening, ESPN Regional Television announced that Baylor, along with six other schools (and one to be determined) will play in the 2010 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic on the campus of the University of Hawai`i at Manoa in Honolulu.
The 2010 tournament field includes host school Hawai`i, Butler, Florida State, Mississippi, San Diego, Utah and that to-be-determined-eighth-school. Five of the seven teams reached the postseason in 2008-09, with Butler, Florida State, Mississippi State and Utah playing in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The fifth school in the postseason? The Baylor Bears, which advanced to the championship game of the 2009 National Invitation Tournament. The field includes no less than six teams that have made a mark in the postseason in the last two years:
The trip to Hawai`i in 2010 will mark the fifth in-season tournament trip to the Aloha State for Baylor and the first since 2003 when the Bears played in Laie for the Surf 'N Slam-Hawai`i Classic. Baylor is 3-8 (.273) in its four previous tournaments in Hawai'i - 1987 Maui Classic (1-2), 1994 Hawai`i-Nike Festival (1-2), 1998 Honolulu Shootout (1-2) and 2003 Surf 'N Slam (1-2).
This will be FCP's second trip to Hawai`i for an in-season tournament...We visited the island of Oahu for the 44th Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic with the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette. ULL finished 2-1 in the tournament, which was held at the Stan Sheriff Center (exterior shot) on the Hawai`i-Manoa campus. Is it just us or does the SSC bear an uncanny resemblance to that of the Ferrell Center (exterior shot)?
We'll return Wednesday for the second day of our 13 Days of Baylor Basketball. If you missed the first day, that's quite alright...You have 12 more days to catch up.
The 12 Days (Plus 1) of Baylor Basketball
Members of the Baylor basketball team and the majority of the support staff began their Christmas vacation Monday afternoon...What better way to celebrate the next few weeks than to unveil our 12 DAYS (PLUS 1) OF BAYLOR BASKETBALL. What's that? Well, it's our Baylor basketball version of The 12 Days of Christmas. We added an extra day (because Baylor plays South Carolina 13 days from today), so we will unveil a new stat/topic/tidbit every day until Jan. 2.
We'll kick things off with the first day of the Christmas break, the Baylor basketball team gave to me...
ONE each - Big 12 Player of the Week (LaceDarius Dunn) and Big 12 Rookie of the Week (Ekpe Udoh):
DUNN NAMED PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK [NOV. 16]
'THE NIGHTMARE' GARNERS BIG 12 TOP ROOKIE HONOR [NOV. 30]
One day down, 12 more to go. Check back Wednesday to see what we have in store for the second day. Here's a hint: it happened last Tuesday vs. Jackson State.
Udoh, Jerrells Beginning to Garner Attention
Yes, that Jerrells. Former Baylor great and the third-leading scorer in school history, Curtis Jerrells was named NBA D-League Co-Performer of the Week (with teammate Dwayne Jones) Monday. The duo led the Austin Toros to a 2-0 record, which included road wins over the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. CJ averaged 30.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 3.0 steals, while shooting 58 percent from the field in the Toros' two games in the Land of Enchantment. Jerrells is averaging 20.3 points, 3.9 boards and 5.6 assists through 11 games for the Toros. Not too shabby.
While there's a good chance that he won't catch up to CJ's 1,820 career points he amassed while in Waco, Baylor blockologist Ekpe 'The Nightmare' Udoh is slowing beginning to garner national attention after an epic performance Sunday in the Ferrell Center. He's giving Baylor fans a new meaning to the complete package. Udoh's career performance Sunday (22 points, 16 rebounds, nine blocks) was arguably the greatest all-around game by a Baylor Bear big man since Brian Skinner's second career triple-double Nov. 29, 1997, vs. Eastern Washington. Skinner's line that night: 24 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks. It was also the first 20-point, 15-rebound performance by a Baylor player since Lawrence Roberts in 2003. That last little tidbit even made the College Basketball Nation blog on ESPN.com. What say you, Gary Parrish?
Final thought: Syracuse's Wesley Johnson (from Corsicana) has long been declared the nation's most impact transfer.
He deserves that title.
But have you seen Baylor's Ekpe Udoh?
I saw him Sunday, and I left the Ferrell Center impressed. As did UT Arlington head coach Scott Cross.
"He was phenomenal," Cross said. "He definitely looked like someboby who can play at the next level."
Udoh finished with 22 points, 16 rebounds and nine blocks in Baylor's 94-63 win. The transfer from Michigan is now averaging 14.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game, and he's a mjor reason why the Bears are off to a surprising 9-1 start.
Is Udoh as good as Johnson? Maybe not.
But he does seem good enough to push the Bears back to the NCAA Tournament.
We'll keep an eye on what the rest of the national writers (FOXSports.com's Jeff Goodman and Rivals.com's Jason King) have to say about Udoh in the upcoming days...
BAYLOR HOLDING STRONG IN LATEST NCAA STATISTICAL RANKINGS
12 (PLUS 1) DAYS OF BAYLOR BASKETBALL
Sunday Afternoon Point Guard, The Triple-Double That Almost Was Edition
Nevermind the grammatically unsound headline, picture this: 22 points, 16 rebounds, nine blocks. We believe that some UT Arlington Maverick players might have some nightmares about Ekpe 'The Nightmare' Udoh after he bombarded UTA Sunday afternoon, helping Baylor to a 94-63 win. Udoh established career highs in points and rebounds, becoming the first Baylor player to post 20 or more points and 15 or more boards in a game since Lawrence Roberts did it almost seven years ago vs. Texas Tech. Udoh simple was - in a word - amazing. He definitely caught the attention of the three national basketball writers in attendance for Sunday's game, which Baylor head coach Scott Drew dubbed "The Three Wise Men" - FOXSports.com's Jeff Goodman, CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish and Rivals.com/Yahoo! Sports' Jason King.
In the span of six days, Udoh has re-established career highs in points, rebounds and assists, while tying his career-high with nine blocks. All of this VERY impressive for a player who never recorded a double-double or scored more than 14 points in a game before suiting up for the Bears this season. If their was a nickname more suitable than The Nightmare, believe us, we would use it.
Through 10 games, Udoh has an astounding 39 blocks - a 3.9 block-per-game average. He has already surpassed Quincy Acy's team-best 34 blocks (which he did in 39 games) from a season ago. His 3.9 blocks per game average is now the best career average by a Baylor player, supplanting Brian Skinner (3.36) for the time being. Amazing.
However, Udoh wasn't the only Baylor player turning heads Sunday afternoon. The Cookie Monster has become synonymous with the monster dunk. We swear Acy's head almost hit the roof of the Ferrell Center on the in-bounds pass he took from A.J. Walton to which he then flushed it down...with authority and then some.
And how about Tweety Carter? Granted, he didn't reach his goal of 27 points for a fourth consecutive game, but he managed the Baylor offense, dishing out a career-high 10 assists. Carter is the first Baylor player with 10 or more assists in a game since Curtis Jerrells had 10 vs. Oklahoma State in January of this calendar year (Jan. 17, 2009). That was the same game that Acy made every bit of his first career start count with a then career-high 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Lace Dunn returned to his kool form, tossing in 17 points in 30 minutes to snap out of his recent shooting slump.
To summarize, let's revisit our Keys to the Game that we hastily put together this morning before tip-off...We're going to give ourselves a perfect score for this game. First, Tweety Carter, while he didn't reach his 27.0 points-per-game average over the last three games, he did manage to dish out a career-high 10 assists. Check. Second, Ekpe Udoh dominated on both ends of the court with a career-high 22 points, career-high 16 rebounds and career-high tying nine blocks. Check. Third, Lace Dunn found a rhythm, drilling four treys to give Baylor momentum. Check. Baylor forced 24 turnovers that translated to 32 points. Checkmate.
Now, it's time for our new (and favorite) segment, 'BEYOND THE BOX SCORE':
With 10 games in the books, the Baylor Bears will get time off to enjoy the Christmas holiday with their families before reporting back to work for the 26th. Then, it's time to prepare for a H-U-G-E road swing with Arkansas and South Carolina. Two games that could give Baylor tons of momentum heading into Big 12 play. That's all for now from the Ferrell Center...
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Not Your Typical Lazy Sunday
Today is not your typical lazy Sunday.Why, you ask? For starters, Baylor (8-1) is playing its third (and rare) Sunday home game when the Bears host the UT Arlington Mavericks (4-3) today at 2 p.m. On top of that, today is Baylor's first televised home game of the 2009-10 season; Greg Lucas (play-by-play) and Jim Haller (analyst) will serve as the talent for the FOX Sports Southwest** telecast this afternoon.
TV Footnote: Today's game is also available on ESPN360.com and ESPN Full Court.
What else is different about today's game? There will be not one, not two, but three national college basketball writers in attendance for the game - FOXSports.com's Jeff Goodman, CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish and Rivals.com/Yahoo! Sports' (and Baylor alum) Jason King.
For the first time this season, Baylor will have a real shot at showcasing its young talent as well as its three-headed monster in Ekpe 'The Nightmare' Udoh, Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: UT ARLINGTON
DECEMBER SUCCESS UNDER DREW
FCP'S 'KEYS TO THE GAME'
It's BaylorNation's last chance to see the Bears at home in 2009. And, 2010 could be even more exciting.
Don't forget to turn down the sound on your TV and turn up the volume on your radio dial to 1660 ESPN with The Voice of the Baylor Bears John Morris and the man that needs no introduction, Pat Nunley. If you can make to the Ferrell Center, come out and support your Baylor Bears - and bring your church bulletins! You get a free ticket if you do.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
The Week The Last 36 Hours in Review: A Twitter Retrospective
Now that we've shaken off all the rust from our long layoff, the last few days have been crammed with all sorts of tidbits and interesting stats. And if you're not on the social networking micro-blogging site, Twitter, then you're not following FCP and thus missing out on some of the 'tweeted' goodies that we offer throughout the week. So, to sum up the last 36 hours in Baylor basketball, here's a Twitter Retrospective:
BAYLOR'S 5OT WIN OVER TEXAS A&M VOTED ONE OF DECADE'S BEST BY CNNSI.COM
"In the longest game in Big 12 history, Curtis Jerrells scored 11 of his 36 points in the fifth and final overtime to lift Baylor after five of the 11 Bears who had played had fouled out and two others had four fouls. Three players logged at least 56 minutes for Texas A&M, including Bryan Davis, who finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds, and Dominique Kirk, whose buzzer-beating tip-in forced the second overtime."
December 17th, 11:24 a.m.
ESPN'S CHAD FORD LISTS UDOH ON POWER FORWARD POSITION DRAFT BOARD
ONMILWAUKEE.COM INTERVIEWS FORMER BAYLOR BEAR ANUDRE BRANCH
TWEETY CARTER...EN FUEGO
December 18th, 8:22 p.m.
ESPN CLASSIC TO RE-AIR BAYLOR'S 5OT WIN OVER TEXAS A&M
Be sure to check back Saturday as we preview Baylor's final home game before the Chrstimas break. The Bears host the UT Arlington Mavericks Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Ferrell Center. Sunday's game will be televised live on FOX Sports Southwest and will also be available on ESPN360.com and ESPN Full Court.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Early Wednesday Morning Afterthoughts
For a few minutes during the first half of Baylor's 90-60 win over Jackson State, the Bears looked like a team that hadn't played in 12 days. But, a 30-point home win loaded with individual accolades is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Bears, which improved to 8-1 overall.
If you revisit our 'Keys to the Game' we posted Wednesday afternoon, three out of four isn't bad. Tweety Carter was and still is EN FUEGO. We think he's still in the zone after he posted his third consecutive 27-point game Tuesday night. Yes. Third consecutive 20-point game. Tweety is the first Baylor player to post three consecutive 20-point games since fellow 1,000-point club member and current Austin Toros point guard Curtis Jerrells did it four straight games during the 2006-07 season:
Jerrells nearly recorded a fifth consecutive 20-point game...CJ scored 19 points in Baylor's 74-69 loss to No. 14 Texas in the Big 12 Championship semifinal in Oklahoma City, Okla. Side Note: Our research also shows that Harvey Thomas posted three straight 20-point games during the 2003-04 season.
Quincy Acy benefited from the high-percentage shot Tuesday as 'The Cookie Monster' scored a career-high 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Acy's lone miss was a short jumper at the 10:46 mark of the second half, but he made his other nine field goal attempts count in a BIG way. Acy put on a dunking clinic, including a pair of textbook alley-oop dunks (assists courtesy Tweety Carter). Ekpe Udoh didn't have a good shooting night (1-of-7), but he did have a nice line in the box score: 6 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists (career high), 4 blocks. Udoh's four blocks gave him 30 for the season, which qualifies him to be ranked in Baylor's career blocked shots per game category...Udoh's 3.33 blocked shots per game ranks second all-time at Baylor behind Brian Skinner (3.36).
Ok, we're going to gloss over LaceDarius Dunn's lowest scoring game (three points) since 2008 at Colorado. He'll get another chance to snap out of his shooting slump Sunday vs. UTA.
Baylor forced 17 turnovers...that translated into 23 points for the Bears.
TWEETY HONORED PRE-GAME, LOMERS' GOATEE MAKES DEBUT
WE COUNTED, RE-COUNTED AND COUNTED SOME MORE
MAKE ROOM FOR (TWEETY) CARTER
THREE TIMES 20
Shake Off the Rust...It's Game Day
After enduring what amounts to (tied for) the longest layoff between games in school history, men's hoops returns to the hardwood tonight when the Baylor Bears host the Jackson State Tigers in the Ferrell Center. When the Tigers and Bears (no Lions, no 'oh my') tip off Tuesday night, it will be Baylor's first game in 1,027,740 seconds/17,129 minutes/285ish hours. In layman's terms, it will be exactly 11 days, 21 hours and 29 minutes since tipping at 9:36 p.m. CST in Tempe.
Last season, Baylor (7-1), then ranked No. 19 in the AP Top 25, crushed Jackson State, 113-78, on New Year's Eve. That was also Baylor's last December home game...The Bears enter Tuesday looking to preserve two huge streaks - a 16-game December winning streak and a 34-0 all-time record vs. the SWAC. And, for those that may have forgotten where we were this time last season, here's a refresher course. That's right...a 7-1 Baylor team, fresh off a huge road win at a Pac-10 opponent, won its December home debut. Another common denominator? Baylor plays a SWAC school in its December home opener, followed by a Dec. 20 home matchup against - wait for it - UT Arlington.
IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY FOR BRACKETOLOGY
BAYLOR TRIO RISING IN RIVALS.COM POWER RANKINGS
BAYLOR CONTINUES TO DOMINATE IN WEEKLY NCAA STATISTICS SUMMARY
'The Nightmare' ranks eighth nationally in field goal percentage (66.2), 10th in blocked shots per game (3.3) and 13th in double-doubles (five). Udoh averages more blocked shots per game than 157 NCAA Division I teams (177 of the 334 Division I teams eligible to be ranked in the NCAA stat summary average 3.3 blocks per game or more entering play Monday).
Lace ranks 21st in three-point field goals per game (3.3) and 45th in points per game (19.1).
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: JACKSON STATE
DECEMBER SUCCESS UNDER DREW
FCP'S 'KEYS TO THE GAME'
It seems like it's been a while since Baylor's last home game. But, the Bears are finished with exams and are ready to rock the Ferrell Center Tuesday after a 12-day hiatus.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Change of Plans: South Carolina Game Time Moved Up
The South Carolina Athletics Department announced Monday that the Jan. 2 contest between Baylor and Gamecocks will be moved to NOON EST (11 A.M. CST) to avoid conflict with the 2 p.m. EST kickoff of the PapaJohns.com Bowl between South Carolina and UConn.
The Baylor-USC game will still be televised by FOX Sports Carolinas. Don't worry...Baylor officials are working with FOX Sports Southwest to televise the game back in Waco.
The Return of 'Sunday Afternoon Point Guard'
For those of you that may have missed it last season, today marks the return of Sunday Afternoon Point Guard - our basketball take on football's Monday Morning Quarterback...With final exams winding down, the action will once again heat up on the court as the Baylor Bears will play two home games before the Christmas break.
Since we're in the midst of an 11-day layoff from basketball action, here are a few tidbits we've learned during our time away from press row:
A Quick Parting Shot before we go: For all the latest and greatest happenings with Baylor Basketball, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @BaylorFCP. Or head coach Scott Drew and assistant coach Paul Mills.
It seems like months since Baylor's last game. And if it feels like that for us, imagine how the guys feel...
Udoh No Longer Baylor's Secret
All throughout the preseason, we've commented time and time again that Baylor's Ekpe 'The Nightmare' Udoh is the real deal. He was doing a good job of staying Baylor's secret weapon for the first four games of the season. Once the nation got a glimpse of the former Michigan forward at the Old Spice Classic and last week at Arizona State, the cat was out of the bag.
Udoh, who ranks seventh nationally in double-doubles, ninth in field goal percentage and 12th in blocked shots per game, is listed as one of ESPN NBA Draft analyst Chad Ford's breakout players (Insider subscription required). For those without an Insider subscription, here's what Ford had to say on Ekpe:
After two promising, but unfulfilling years at Michigan, Udoh is now wearing a Baylor jersey and seems to be finally capitalizing on his potential. NBA teams love shotblockers with long arms and good leaping ability, and Udoh has the production to match, averaging nearly 10 boards and 3.5 blocks per game.
Udoh is proving to be more than just a shotblocker. He has improved dramatically on the offensive end of the game, and shows a nice face-the-basket game. He can create his own shot off the dribble and has shown some impressive footwork in the paint. He needs to get stronger and clearly is still a work in progress, but Udoh has begun to appear on the NBA draft radar screen in a big way. In the first month of the season he's moved all the way up from a second-round pick to somewhere between 15 and 25 in the draft.
Ekpe is no longer a secret in Waco. Udoh's five double-doubles and 26 blocked shots lead the Big 12. Before you know it, Ekpe will be a household name...
What Do Baylor and North Carolina Have in Common? A Lot More than You Think...
A few weeks ago, we mentioned that Baylor and 2009 national runner-up Michigan State have finished fifth in the last two Old Spice Classics. Here's something you may not have known about the common thread between the Bears and 2009 national champion North Carolina. UNC and Baylor lead all of Division I with 14 wins since the end of the 2008-09 regular season (conference tournament, postseason and 2009-10 regular season thus far).
UNC is 14-2 over that stretch, while Baylor is 14-3. Syracuse, Michigan State and Villanova have each won 13 games.
The Big 12 school with the second-most wins in that stretch? No. 1 Kansas and Texas Tech both with nine victories. Eight of Texas Tech's nine wins have come this season.
Baylor Among ORVs (Others Receiving Votes)
Tweety Rises to the Occasion...Again
During pregame warm-ups Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena, there was a small cluster of Arizona State fans heckling Tweety Carter after he missed a layup - "YOU can't even make a layup!". That wasn't an issue for Tweety since he drained a plethora of triples (SEVEN, to be exact). I believe we didn't hear that group after he drained four triples over a three-minute span, including three in successive Baylor possessions. Welcome to Baylor Basketball, 2009-10.
While LaceDarius Dunn was not the overwhelming fan favorite at Wells Fargo, Carter did what he does best - step up his game. For the smallest guy on the court, he certainly was making the biggest shots. Tweety played 39 of Baylor's 40 minutes, getting a quick breather in the first half. Didn't matter. Carter was electrifying in the second half, hitting five 3-pointers to spark Baylor's late rally from 10 points down to silence the 7,948 in attendance.
Slightly overshadowed by Tweety's Oscar-winning performance, 'The Nightmare' scored 10 points and snagged 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Baylor, which entered the night fifth in the nation in rebounding margin (+12.7), held the Sun Devils to a season-low 18 rebounds. ASU's 18 boards match a Scott Drew era low set by Prairie View A&M, Dec. 28, 2004.
Aside from our successful approach to Baylor's 'KEYS TO THE GAME' (save Josh Lomers' new nickname of 'The Big Cactus'), here's something else you should know about last night's win:
Thursday, one Arizona newspaper dubbed the game as a 'must-win' for Arizona State. It was also a 'must-win' for the Bears...It gave Baylor back-to-back marquee wins and hopefully silenced some of the critics, finally.
We'll leave you with these few final thoughts: Baylor shot near 60 percent last night - the second-best shooting percentage against a Herb Sendek team in 107 games (Florida shot 60.5 percent at Arizona State in March 2008)...Carter tied a season high with 27 points (set vs. Xavier); during last season's 87-78 win over the Sun Devils, Lace scored - gasp - 27 points. Coincidence?
We're leaving on a jet plane...No, seriously, our plane is now boarding in Phoenix. Enjoy the layoff, BaylorNation. 7-1 certainly does feel sweet.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
The Land of Cactus and The Valley of the Sun (Devils)
Last year for the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, we were enjoying our can of Cougar Gold Cheese during our three-day sojourn to Pullman, Wash. This go-round, we don't need a compass or a two-day headstart to reach our destination...This year, the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series brings us to The Valley of the Sun and Tempe, Ariz.. And situated within the city of Tempe is Baylor's Thursday night opponent, the Arizona State Sun Devils. In the course of 363 days, we've traded the Palouse for Hayden Butte, which is referred to by locals as A Mountain.
To put it in perspective, Arizona State's student enrollment for the Fall 2009 semester is 68,064. That is not a misprint. There are twice as many students that attend Arizona State than residents that live in RGIII's hometown of Copperas Cove. In the 2008-09 academic year, 15,610 students graduated from ASU...Baylor's Fall 2009 enrollment? 14,614.
While we've certainly enjoyed our trip thus far to the Land of Cactus (coined by ASU SID Doug Tammaro), it's gameday! (How easily amused are we? Our hotel has an M&M dispenser in the lobby!)
According to The Arizona Republic, Thursday's game is a must-win for the Sun Devils. We do agree that it is a B-I-G game for the Bears as it would add another solid victory to their early postseason résumé. Whichever way you look at tonight's game, Arizona State will look to avenge last season's loss when the Bears dominated the 14th-ranked Sun Devils in Anaheim.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: ARIZONA STATE
BIG 12/PAC-10 HARDWOOD SERIES HISTORY
FCP'S 'KEYS TO THE GAME'
FCP's Food for Thought: Thursday's FSN announcers will be Steve Physioc (play-by-play) and Marques Johnson (analyst)...Physioc, who was the play-by-play commentator for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 14 years, served as the TV talent for Baylor's game at Missouri last season...Johnson, a five-time NBA All-Star, was the color analyst for Baylor's 58-52 win at Washington State last season...FCP and Inside Baylor Sports' Robert Shiekh lunched at Chipotle - why do you care? Click this link to see what happened the last time we did.
We'll have our coffee courtside tonight with the 9:36 p.m. CST tip time (official TV start). Don't forget: Turn down the sound on your TV and tune your radio to ESPN 1660 AM at 9 p.m. CST to listen to The Voice of the Baylor Bears, John Morris, and The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Pat Nunley, from Wells Fargo Arena. The weather outside may be frightful in Waco tonight, but Baylor basketball on national television is surely delightful...It's Gameday.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
After a Cornucopia of Hoops, It's a Short December
It's our first post in Central Standard Time in almost two weeks...Luckily we remembered how to tell time. After the whirlwind that was the month of November, Baylor hoops will tap the brakes in December as the Bears have only four games on the docket.
Baylor concluded the month of November with a 6-1 mark this season and has won 16 of its last 18 20 of its last 23 (clerical error) non-conference games in the 11th month. Baylor is 25-6 in November under head coach Scott Drew. Baylor's December record is nearly as impressive with the Bears posting a 24-9 mark.
Baylor has won 15 consecutive games in the month of December. Last December loss? Dec. 16, 2006, at No. 23 Syracuse. That was just the game. The epic tale of the Baylor's travel exploits to Syracuse was another story, as told by former MBB SID Heath Nielsen below:
Roughly 28 hours after leaving Waco the Bears' travel party arrived in Syracuse Friday, Dec. 15, 2006, at 11 p.m. EST, but without any luggage (including uniforms and playing shoes). The Bears missed their scheduled practice at the Carrier Dome Friday night and instead conducted a walk-through at a vacant gate at the DFW airport.
Here's the entire Tale of Two Cities back story:
The team arrived at DFW before 9 a.m. CST Friday, but after roughly three hours of multiple delays the orginal direct flight to Syracuse was canceled. American eventually booked the party on two later flights, with the bulk of the team to leave at 4:30 p.m. with a connection on a different airline in Washington D.C.
After rescheduling the flight, the staff found an empty wing of the American Airlines concourse and created a makeshift lane on the ground with some packing tape and conducted an approximately 45-minute walk-through practice using a Gatorade bottle for a basketball.
At 4:30, the majority of the team departed and arrived in D.C. around 8:20 EST. The transfer from American to U.S. Airways caused some headaches and delays in D.C. and the flight arrived in Syracuse around 11 p.m. EST, without any luggage. A few staff members were also yet to arrive from a separate flight through Pittsburgh.
It gets better...
And like we said...that was just the beginning. When Baylor's gear had yet to arrive Saturday morning, Syracuse loaned BU practice jerseys and shoes for its Noon EST shootaround at the Carrier Dome. The SU training staff also provided all necessary tape for the practice.
With the game looming and the Bears gearless, PLAN B was carried out successfully:
Two basketball managers drove Baylor's home white uniforms and extra shoes to DFW at 4 a.m. CST to catch a direct flight Saturday morning to Syracuse. However, the white uniforms were not necessary after all because all but two bags from the travel party's original luggage arrived at the hotel from Chicago, Dallas and D.C. around 2:30 p.m. EST.
Whew! We tried to make the story as abridged as possible, but it was hard taking out any of the details. Despite morning snow and wintry conditions in Dallas, we promise that tonight's flight to Phoenix will be smoother. If not, we have tons of bloggage material waiting in the que.
One more detail we neglected to tell you - Tweety Carter scored a career-high 31 points that night vs. the Syracuse Orange. And entering Thursday's game in Tempe, the aforementioned Carter needs two points to eclipse the 1,000-point mark for this career.
But, then again, you already knew that, right?
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.