Minutes before tip Saturday between Baylor and No. 21 Texas A&M, Baylor was on the wrong side of the bubble...joining the list of teams in the dreaded LAST FOUR OUT. And to show you just how volatile bracketology is this time of year, the Bears - just minutes after completing the regular-season series sweep against the Aggies - were suddenly thrusted into the tournament field among the LAST FOUR IN. The difference between being in the tournament vs. out is minimal. A blink of an eye.
This time of year, one game can make or break a team's tournament résumé. And with the Bears' collective backs against the wall against Texas A&M, Baylor stepped up and delivered, defeating the Aggies for the second time this season.
Two days later, Baylor is now a hot commodity on the bracketology boards...for the most part. Once a team on the wrong side of the bubble, the Bears now find themselves - today, at least - on the right side of the bubble, save NBCSports.com, which has Baylor among the last five out.
Of the six other bracketology sites, the consensus is that Baylor would play in one of the four "First Round" games in Dayton, Ohio. Whether the Bears play on Tuesday or Wednesday remains to be seen. Obviously things can very much change between today and Selection Sunday. Bracketology, while a science, isn't an exact science nor does it remain stagnant. It's very much a fluid process. The actual NCAA Men's Basketball selection committee won't even work on a bracket until the morning of Selection Sunday.
The disclaimer remains this: Bracketology isn't exact, but it's close. This goes without saying, but a win Tuesday further solidifies Baylor's NCAA postseason aspirations, as would a win over nationally ranked Texas on Saturday for College GameDay.
Not only is the national consensus that Baylor would be playing one of the four first-round games in Dayton, but that the Bears would face either Vanderbilt or Georgetown. SI.com's Andy Glockner believes the Bears are equipped for a No. 11 seed, facing Michigan in Dayton. ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi also has Baylor facing Michigan (as 12 seeds), while Bracketography.com has a rematch of last season's NCAA second round game in New Orleans: No. 12 seeds Baylor and Old Dominion.
The rest looks like this: No. 12 (Rivals.com), No. 12 (Bracketology 101) and No. 12 (The Hoops Report).
Baylor's road to the NCAA Tournament will not be a straight shot. It may be a long, winding road. And that road begins Tuesday at Oklahoma State, a game that begins arguably the most important week of the regular season in Baylor basketball history. Baylor's postseason dreams could hang on either outcome, while College GameDay comes to Waco for the first time. And not to forget...LaceDarius Dunn should become the Big 12's all-time leading scorer Tuesday night in Stillwater.
For constant updates on all things Baylor basketball, follow Full Court Press on Twitter (@BaylorFCP).
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How sweep it is. For many, Baylor is playing for its NCAA Tournament life as the regular season winds down with Baylor's NCAA hopes hanging on each outcome. From the start, Baylor's motor was running at full tilt as the Bears knocked off No. 21 Texas A&M, 58-51, to complete its first regular-season series sweep of the Aggies since 2003-04. Baylor has now won the last three meetings in the "Battle of the Brazos," its first three-game win streak in the series since 1987-88.
The results of Baylor's seven-point win? Baylor improved to 9-3 in the last two seasons vs. its three in-state Big 12 rivals; A.J. Walton's in-bounds alley-oop to Quincy Acy was No. 5 on SportsCenter's Top 10 plays Saturday night; Baylor went from the fifth time out in Joe Lunardi's Bracketology before the game to one of the last four teams in after the seven-point win.
Baylor scored under 60 points in a win vs. Texas A&M for the first time since Feb. 28, 1987 (51-48 win). Baylor is now 4-28 in the Scott Drew era when scoring fewer than 60 points in a game.
Now, the Bears will look to make history Tuesday night in Stillwater, Okla. Baylor has just one win at Oklahoma State in the Big 12 era and is 3-23 all-time at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Not to be lost in the shuffle is LaceDarius Dunn's quest for Big 12 history...Dunn (2,245) needs 12 points to pass Texas Tech's Andre Emmett and become the Big 12's all-time leading scorer.
Saturday was another notch on Baylor's NCAA Tournament résumé and helped the Bears' RPI jump up to 68, while its SOS is now 42. This week could be the single-most important week for Baylor basketball in a very, very long time.
For constant updates on all things Baylor basketball, follow Full Court Press on Twitter (@BaylorFCP).
Will 'Battle of the Brazos' Provide Another Instant Classic?
LaceDarius Dunn needs 28 points to become the Big 12's all-time scoring leader.
Two weeks ago, I made the claim that the Baylor/Texas series - one of the most-played rivalries in the nation - is one of the most underrated college basketball rivalries. That is a true statement. That statement can also be applied to the Baylor/Texas A&M series, known throughout Central Texas as the "Battle of the Brazos." Baylor and Texas A&M will meet for the 203rd time on the hardwood Saturday night and for the 31st time in the Big 12 era.
Yes, Baylor has won only 75 times in the previous 202 series meetings against Texas A&M, but recent memory has treated the Bears better. Baylor has won three of the last four series meetings, including this year's first meeting: a 76-74 OT win over then-No. 16 Texas A&M in College Station. The Bears have also won each of the last two series meetings in Waco. Will the 'Battle of the Brazos' provide us with another instant classic? In fact, six of the last 11 series meetings have been decided by six points or less:
Jan. 28, 2006: Texas A&M 72, Baylor 70 (College Station)
Feb. 14, 2009: Baylor 72, Texas A&M 68 (Waco)
Feb. 24, 2010: No. 24 Baylor 70, No. 22 Texas A&M 66 (Waco)
Feb. 5, 2011: Baylor 76, No. 16 Texas A&M 74 / OT (College Station)
With all that said, there's much more on the line for Baylor than whether or not Saturday's game is an instant classic. Texas A&M is a lock for the NCAA Tournament; Baylor is not. The Bears still have some work to do for their NCAA postseason hopes, but contrary to popular belief, Wednesday's loss at Missouri did not hurt the Bears' postseason chances (of course, it didn't help, either). Two of Baylor's final three games are against Top 25 teams (and top 30 RPI squads).
My take: win two of your last three regular-season games and you're in "ok" shape; not great, but definitely better than you were before. Add at least one win in the Big 12 Championship (get to the magical 20-win mark) and you should be in the "Big Dance." With that said, if Baylor gets off the bubble and into the NCAA Tournament, the Bears could be playing in one of the four "first round" games in Dayton.
Another story line on the line: LaceDarius Dunn's quest to become the Big 12's all-time scoring leader. Dunn, who currently has 2,229 career points, needs 28 to pass Andre Emmett as the league's career scoring king. Emmett currently plays for Fujian of the Chinese Basketball Association and he's lighting up the scoreboards in China, averaging 27.9 points in 19 games thus far. If Dunn were to reach that 28-point mark, history shows that the Bears should be victorious (Baylor is 32-14 in Dunn's 46 career 20-point games).
Tonight will be physical. Neither team will want to give the other an inch. And with Baylor playing at home. Against Texas A&M. And playing for its NCAA postseason life, Saturday should be a great game and hopefully another instant classic.
For constant updates on all things Baylor basketball, follow Full Court Press on Twitter (@BaylorFCP).
So what goes on when the Bears are on the road? I hope this "behind the scenes" blog gives you an idea of the 24-hour cycle that is traveling in the Big 12 (save, of course, our 48-hour tour of Norman, Okla., earlier this month).
Of course, some of the timeline below is simply minutiae. Life on the road is much different to that of playing at home, but the important thing about playing on the road is having a routine. And what's below is as routine as it gets for the Bears. Ashley Farrell with Sic 'Em Sports Productions documented Baylor's travels from "take-off to tip-off" (she came up with that...I just borrowed it) in a pretty cool video for BaylorBears.com.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22
5:45 P.M. - WHEELS UP (Behind the Scenes Tweet)
7:10 P.M. - ARRIVE IN COLUMBIA
7:40 P.M. - MIZZOU ARENA (Tweet)
8:15 P.M. - DINNER AT MACARONI GRILL
9:55 P.M. - CHECK-IN AT HOTEL
11 P.M. - LIGHTS OUT
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23
11 A.M.-12:15 P.M. - SHOOTAROUND AT MIZZOU ARENA (Tweet)
This was NOT on the travel itinerary...
**Note: John Morris, Pat Nunley, Ashley Farrell and I moved to the lobby before 2 p.m. JMo later did his radio show from the hotel...in the hallway. When on the road, you learn to adapt.
3 P.M. - SCOUT/CHAPEL
3:45 P.M. - PRE-GAME MEAL
5:35 P.M. - MEDIA BUS ARRIVES AT MIZZOU ARENA / TEAM TAPED
6 P.M. - JOHN MORRIS INTERVIEWS HUBERT DAVIS (Tweet)
6:40 P.M. - TEAM ARRIVES AT MIZZOU ARENA
8:05 P.M. - TIPOFF ON ESPN2
9:58 P.M. - GAME OVER
10:15 P.M. - POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
11:45 P.M. - WHEELS UP
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24
Bear with me for a second. Think of the rigorous 16-game Big 12 basketball schedule as a racetrack. Divided into four "turns," if you will. We all know that the conference season is strenuous and is a marathon, not a sprint. Playing night-in and night-out in the Big 12 will take its toll on a player, on a coach, on a team and it even takes a toll on me and I don't play. So back to my original statement...think of the Big 12 season as an oval track:
The First Turn (at Tech, vs. Oklahoma, at Iowa State, vs. Kansas): 2-2
The final four-game stretch of the regular season is a particularly important one...not to mention one of monumental proportions. It's a chance for the Bears to offset earlier losses with at least a pair of victories in the final four games. Three of Baylor's final four opponents are ranked in the last top 25 polls - No. 20/21 Missouri, No. 21/17 Texas A&M and No. 5/5 Texas. Baylor's already defeated one of those Top 25 teams this season. In addition, there's some historical significance to each of Baylor's final four regular-season games:
Two of those four bullet points above are merely stats that are buried in my game notes, but are important nonetheless.
And while some people may think of Baylor's final four games as a daunting task, the Bears have had success this season against these final four teams, posting a 2-1 record (Baylor and Missouri will meet Wednesday for the only regular-season meeting). Baylor is also 8-3 against the other Texas Big 12 schools in its last 11 games.
The final turn is upon us.
Spring Break Plans? Fill the Ferrell for College GameDay
By now, you should know that ESPN College GameDay Driven by State Farm will be making its Waco debut next week when it goes live from the Ferrell Center. This week, the GameDay crew is visiting Blacksburg, Va., for the Duke-Virginia Tech ACC clash in Cassell Coliseum. Then the crème de la crème. Baylor vs. Texas. Senior Night for Baylor's - and soon-to-be the Big 12's - all-time leading scorer, LaceDarius Dunn.
With Baylor switching its push for a school-record fourth consecutive postseason appearance into overdrive, students and fans alike should be knocking down the doors to fill the Ferrell Center with green and gold on national TV. College GameDay is a two-hour live broadcast (9-10 a.m. on ESPNU, 10-11 a.m. on ESPN). This is Baylor's time to shine on a national stage.
Incentives? There are plenty of incentives for Baylor students to stay one extra night and push back their Spring Break plans for College GameDay:
Oh, and you get to see Rece Davis, Hubert Davis, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas, Bob Knight and Erin Andrews.
11 days - and counting - until College GameDay's Baylor debut. So make plans for your Spring Break to start after the Baylor-Texas game ends.
Baylor has only two home basketball games remaining in the 2010-11 regular season and both are against two of the Bears' biggest in-state rivals. Fewer than 700 general public tickets (not counting student/staff/faculty tickets) remain for Saturday's "Battle of the Brazos" - the 203rd series meeting between the long-time rivals (8:05 p.m. CST tip, ESPNU).
There's still plenty of time to buy your tickets. You can order by phone at (254) 710-1000, visit the Ferrell Center Ticket Office (M-F, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.) or order online at BaylorBears.com. Either way, get your tickets now and pack the Ferrell Center as the Bears make their push for a school-record fourth consecutive postseason appearance.
This week, it's East Lansing, Mich. Next week, it's Blackburg, Va. Then, ESPN's College GameDay tour will make its eighth and final stop of the 2011 regular season in Waco. Baylor and the Ferrell Center will be at the center of the college basketball universe in 15 days. That's right...in 15 days, Rece Davis, Digger Phelps, Hubert Davis, Jay Bilas, Bob Knight and Erin Andrews will be on Baylor's campus March 5 as Baylor will host College GameDay Driven by State Farm for the first time in school history.
Head Coach Scott Drew sent a letter to all Baylor men's basketball season ticket holders in advance of College GameDay's Waco debut. So what's going on that Saturday morning for GameDay's two-hour live show? Well...I'm going to wait before I spill all the free and cool stuff going on Saturday.
As I blogged last week, the Baylor/Texas series may not have a cool name, but the rivalry has gotten really good lately. This season's first meeting may not have gone the way of the Green and Gold, but the regular-season finale will be an unbelievable atmosphere: it'll be Senior Day for LaceDarius Dunn, who is now going for the Big 12 career scoring record; it'll be College GameDay; and Baylor will hopefully be adding to its NCAA résumé.
Whatever the reason you choose, the Ferrell Center should be packed from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 5th.
Thursday and Friday, national media were invited to the NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis to participate in a mock bracket selection, an exercise that allows the media to understand how the selection committee operates. There were many myths that were debunked, as well.
Well, that committee of media members went through the entire selection process from start to finish, listing teams 1-68, seeding mythical automatic qualifiers and debating which teams deserve to be in the mock 68-team field. Of course, all of this was decided with many possible factors, tournament outcomes, etc., as well as using those teams' current résumés as they stand today. In this particular mock exercise, Baylor was projected to lose in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals. With that said - and if the season were to end today - Baylor fans have to realize that the Bears would be one of the last four teams either in or out. For me, I would say Baylor is one of the last four in. To further prove that point, the committee's mock bracket had the Bears as one of the last four teams out (after its mythical Big 12 Championship loss).
The process intrigues me. A lot. It intrigues me so much so that if I had the time I would seriously consider taking Joe Lunardi's "Fundamentals of Bracketology" course - yes, there IS a course - online. In fact, the nation's best Bracketology himself (Lunardi) was one of the many media members in Indianapolis for the mock bracket exercise as well as Baylor alum Jason King (Yahoo! Sports), Kate Hairopolous (Dallas Morning News), Jeffrey Martin (Houston Chronicle) and Andy Glockner (SI.com) to name a few. Glockner was one of two media members playing the role of Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe, who is on the NCAA selection committee. If you followed Twitter at all the last 48 hours, the NCAA encouraged those media members in attendance to use social media and interact with people throughout the process.
Once the mock bracket concluded, Lunardi offered his latest Bracketology, dropping Baylor from a No. 11 seed to a No. 12, facing No. 5 Vanderbilt in Tampa. Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post and Bracketography both have the Bears as No. 12 seed playing in one of the four first-round games in Dayton; Prisbell has Baylor matched up with Southern Miss, while Bracketography has the Bears going up against the Maryland Terrapins. Rivals.com's Mike Huguenin has Baylor on the No. 11 seed line (Rivals doesn't do a bracket, just seed lines).
What will make Baylor's postseason forecast clearer? Three wins in the last five games would help the Bears, giving Baylor its fourth consecutive 20-win season for the first time in school history. However, four wins in the final five games would help that much more. Bottom line is this: keeping winning. Baylor can't worry about other teams helping its postseason cause; the Bears will have to handle their fate themselves.
And that road starts Saturday against Texas Tech.
Last season, LaceDarius Dunn became Baylor's career 3-point leader.
Last night and 360 days later, he became Baylor's all-time leading scorer.
Now Dunn can turn his attention to completing this season's "records trifecta." Dunn needs 61 points to surpass Texas Tech's Andre Emmett as the Big 12's all-time leading scorer. Lace also needs 12 3FG to become the Big 12's career 3-point leader, passing Texas' A.J. Abrams.
The Monroe, La., native is one of 11 active NCAA Division I players with more than 2,000 career points, ranking fifth behind Hofstra's Charles Jenkins (2,402), Andrew Goudelock (2,310), Jimmer Fredette (2,242) and Kyle Singler (2,204). In fact, Dunn has faced four of the nation's top 12 active career scorers during his time at Baylor - Duke's Kyle Singler (2010 NCAA Elite Eight), Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney (2009 NIT second round), Penn State's Talor Battle (2009 NIT finals) and Kansas State's Jacob Pullen.
More than 480 players in Division I history - including Dunn and Terry Teagle - have scored at least 2,000 points over their careers. However, the NCAA record book only lists the top 60 career scorers, stopping coincidentally at 'Baylor'...Elgin Baylor, that is, who scored 2,500 career points between College of Idaho and Seattle University. So I can't tell you where Lace will rank once his college career is over.
With Dunn's first triple Tuesday night vs. Wayland Baptist, he extended his school-record streak to 39 consecutive games with a made 3FG. That streak ranks fourth all-time in Big 12 history, one game behind Missouri's Kareem Rush (40). When the night was over, Dunn, the nation's active career 3FG leader, moved into a tie for 14th place on the NCAA Division I all-time list with 378 career 3FG.
Dunn is now three treys ahead of Hartford's Joe Zeglinski (375) for nation's active career lead. Dunn needs 12 treys to become the Big 12's career leader and 22 treys to become the 11th player in NCAA Division I history with 400+ career 3FG.
Two career records down. Two more to go for LaceDarius Dunn, who became Baylor's all-time leading scorer during Tuesday night's 64-50 win over Wayland Baptist. Yes, the game was very anticlimactic, but those in attendance witnessed history when Dunn passed Terry Teagle, whose record stood for 29 years. In fact, Tuesday was nearly 29 years to the day that Teagle became the Southwest Conference's all-time leading scorer...a record he would later relinquish after the 3-point line was instituted.
Now Dunn sits just 61 points away from becoming the Big 12's career scoring leader and 12 3-pointers shy of surpassing Texas' A.J. Abrams as the greatest 3-point shooter in Big 12 history. And while Tuesday night didn't go as many had planned, a record is a record. And records are meant to be broken. It may have taken him 18 more games, 1,134 points-worth from 3-point range and the aid of three consecutive postseason appearances, but the record is now Dunn's. Will it ever be broken? Who knows...Dunn has a few more games to add more points to that total.
Here's a career comparison between Dunn and Teagle...
As the 2010-11 regular season begins to wind down (27 days until Selection Sunday), the clouds are beginning to clear on Baylor's postseason forecast. More than a week after an upset win at No. 16 Texas A&M and two days after a tough loss at No. 3 Texas, Baylor's projected NCAA Tournament seed and RPI have improved. Yes, improved. Baylor's RPI jumped 13 spots from 77 to 64 in the latest NCAA Division I RPI report. On top of that, Baylor received more votes in this week's AP Top 25 and returned to the Others Receiving Votes category in the latest ESPN/USA TODAY Top 25.
Last week, both Andy Glockner (SI.com) and Joe Lunardi (ESPN.com) had Baylor among the eight teams playing in the "First Round" (formerly known as the "First Four"). This week, Glockner bumped Baylor from the 12-seed line to the 10-seed line, playing No. 7 St. John's in Tucson, Ariz. In Glockner's bracket, Baylor could face No. 2 San Diego State in a rematch of the 2009 NIT semifinal.
No longer among his "LAST FOUR IN," Baylor is a No. 11 seed facing No. 6 West Virginia in Chicago in Joe Lunardi's latest projections on ESPN.com. WVU/Baylor is paired with No. 3 Wisconsin/No. 14 Fairfield.
Rush The Court has what would be an exciting second round matchup if it were to occur with No. 11 Baylor facing No. 6 Kentucky in Chicago. It was cool watching the Wildcats up close in the NCAA Tournament last year in New Orleans...it would be an extra incentive to see celebrities like Ashley Judd, again.
The other three bracketologists in today's round-up - Bracketology 101, CollegeHoops.Net and BRACKETVille - have Baylor playing in the first round in Dayton, Ohio. What that means: if Baylor were to be among the eight teams playing in Dayton, Ohio, in the NCAA First Round, the Bears would have to win to advance to the Round of 64 (Second Round). But they wouldn't play in Dayton...they would hop on a plane and fly to their second/third round host site (i.e. Tucson, Chicago or Washington, D.C., among others).
An interesting note for Tuesday's non-conference home game vs. Wayland Baptist:
While Tuesday's game vs. Wayland Baptist counts as one of Baylor's 30 regular-season contests, it is an exhibition game for the Pioneers. How can that be? Well to summarize the NAIA rule book, the NAIA institution reserves the right to classify the game (when the contest is at an NCAA institution, admission is charged and the NCAA institution promotes game as a regular contest) as a regular contest or an exhibition, in accordance with NAIA rules. However, if Baylor was playing Wayland Baptist as one of its exhibition games, then the Pioneers couldn't classify it as a regular-season contest.
A Tale of Two Halves
10:43 P.M., SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2011
CHRIS YANDLE (EMAIL)
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS: Twitter: @BaylorFCP, @BaylorAthletics | Facebook: Baylor Athletics
When it appeared that all hope was lost for Baylor, senior G LaceDarius Dunn stepped up his game. After a four-point first half Saturday at No. 3 Texas, Dunn scorched the Longhorns for 22 second-half points, including 10 straight points to help Baylor cut a once 19-point deficit down to the three points.
Which leads me to this point...Saturday was the fourth time this season that Dunn scored 20+ points in the second half - Washington State (25), Morgan State (29), Nebraska (20) and Texas (22). In fact, Saturday was the second consecutive game Dunn went for 20 or more in the second half. That follows a year-long trend for Dunn - if you think he's good in the first half, you should see him in the second period.
Dunn is shooting 47 percent from the floor, 49% from beyond the arc and 84 percent at the FT line in the second half, averaging 12.1 points in the game's final 20 minutes (compared to 8.9 points in first half).
With his 26-point performance in Saturday's tough loss at No. 3 Texas, Dunn won't need a big first half to become Baylor's all-time leading scorer Tuesday vs. Wayland Baptist. The Monroe, La., native needs only 11 points to surpass Terry Teagle for all-time scoring lead at Baylor. That's still a very impressive number considering Dunn didn't start a game until his sophomore season.
Saturday was also his 12th 20-point game of the season - and 45th on his career. Dunn has scored 20+ points in more than half his games this season (12 of 21).
The series doesn't have a catchy name. Nor does it rank as one of the 10 most-played active rivalries in Division I college basketball history (the top six belong to the Pac-10). But it's the most-played rivalry for both Baylor and Texas. When the Bears and Longhorns take the floor Saturday at Frank Erwin Center, it will be the 235th series meeting and the 112th in Austin.
They've played every season since 1908-09 and, until recently, it was predominantly dominated by the Longhorns. Before Baylor's current four-game win streak over the Horns, Texas had won the previous 24 meetings. I'm biased, but...the Baylor-Texas series is one of the better under-the-radar rivalries in college basketball. The last four meetings alone have held major significance in Baylor basketball history:
March 13, 2009: Baylor 76, Texas 70
January 30, 2010: Baylor 80, Texas 77 (OT)
March 6, 2010: Baylor 92, Texas 77
Saturday's game will feature the highest national ranking for either team in series history. And there's also the possibility that Baylor Nation could witness LaceDarius Dunn set the new Baylor and Big 12 career scoring records (and the Big 12 career 3FG record) against the Texas Longhorns in either contest...Dunn needs 37 points to surpass Terry Teagle (2,189) as Baylor's all-time leading scorer and 104 points to surpass Texas Tech's Andre Emmett (2,256) as the Big 12's career scoring leader.
Oh, and let's not forget that the return trip to Waco will be featured on the regular-season finale of ESPN's College GameDay Driven by State Farm.
Just add those to the long list of storylines this series has provided over the last three seasons.
In his first 70 games in a Baylor uniform, LaceDarius Dunn recorded just 48 assists (that's a 0.7 assist-per-game average). But the glaring statistic during Dunn's sophomore season: two assists in Big 12 play. Yes, you read that correctly - 2 assists in 16 conference games.
After hearing all season about his lack of assists in Big 12 play, Dunn honed the skill as a junior in 2009-10. The Monroe, La., native dished out 68 assists in 36 games, while recording 21 assists in Big 12 play.
First 70 games: 48 assists. Next 36 games: 68.
First 32 Big 12 games: 13 assists. Next 16 Big 12 games: 21.
Now, those numbers are improving yet again. Dunn has 50 assists in 20 games this season - a career-high 2.5 assists-per-game average. Dunn's also averaging 2.6 assists-per-game in 10 Big 12 games, already surpassing last season's Big 12 assists total.
Add it all up and Dunn has 118 of 166 career assists in his last 56 games (2.1 assists-per-game average) and 47 of his 60 career Big 12 assists in the last 26 conference games.
Baylor is 25-3 when Dunn records 3+ assists in a game, including an 8-2 record this season. In his first three seasons, Dunn had six games with 4+ assists. This season alone, Dunn has five such games.
These stats alone are proof of Dunn's game coming full circle. He can score at will. He has one of the smoothest shots in college basketball. He's one of the best free throw shooters in school history and he will conclude his career among college basketball's greatest 3-pointer shooters. Oh, and he should end his career as the Baylor and Big 12 career scoring leader.
It's one of those stats that goes unknown, but it's time for people to take notice.
It was only seven days ago that the Baylor basketball team first encountered the Great Blizzard of 2011, dubbed as the "Snowpocalypse." After spending an extra 24 hours in Oklahoma because of the blizzard, our long road home to Texas was even more of an adventure, adding three hours to our trip. Once back in Waco, round two of the "Snowpocalypse" pounded Central Texas, dumping up to three inches in the area. But the week ended with Baylor's 76-74 OT road win at No. 16 Texas A&M, snapping its three-game Big 12 road losing streak.
Late last night, an arctic front swept through Texas sending temperatures plummeting to the single digits with wind chills below zero. Last week, snow. This week, ice. "Icemageddon," if you will. The Bears can't seem to ditch the winter weather. Since opening Big 12 play on the road with a win Jan. 8 at Texas Tech, the Bears have experienced extreme winter weather on road trips to Ames, Iowa; Manhattan, Kan.; and, of course, Norman, Okla.
The good news is that the Bears are home tonight and don't have to fight this weather on a bus, again. And the other good news is tonights' game is free for all. Everyone loves free stuff, right? So, if you can (safely) brave the conditions, come check out the Bears take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
It should be a good one because Wednesday is just life in the Big 12.
How much difference does one win over a Top 25 team make? After losing to Oklahoma last Wednesday, Baylor's NCAA hopes were nearly gone for many media folks. But, a thrilling 76-74 OT win at No. 16 Texas A&M changed the minds of a few...Now Baylor is back in the NCAA Tournament mix this week in the latest bracketology talks...
If the NCAA Tournament started today...
The tournament theme: obviously for those bracketologists with Baylor in their respective brackets, the Bears would be playing in the "First Round" of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. To refresh, the "play-in game" is now known as the "First Round" with four games and the old "First Round" is now known as the "Second Round." Confused yet? Here's the schedule.
SI.com's Luke Winn has a great analytical breakdown of the nation's top freshmen, led by Baylor freshman phenom Perry Jones III. Here's what Winn said about PJ3: "Progressing at an even sharper rate is Baylor's Perry Jones III, who has also surpassed Harrison Barnes in most mock drafts, and has a chance to go No. 1 overall. Jones treadline...suggests the Bears' phenom could be ready to have a major March."
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From start to finish, Saturday's 202nd Battle of the Brazos meeting lived up to the hype. Anytime Baylor and Texas A&M meet on the court, emotions are high, fans are rowdy (Saturday moreso that normal) and the game is always physical. Baylor led by as many as 14 points in the first half, but the 16th-ranked Aggies kept it close in the second half, ultimately forcing overtime. Down by as many as three in OT (72-69), Baylor's Joneses accounted for the Bears' final five points - a huge and-one play by freshman Perry Jones III followed by the game-winner by "big shot" Anthony Jones.
Here's where that nickname comes from:
"We used to joke when he first (arrived at Baylor) that he's 'big shot' Anthony Jones. Some guys have a knack for making the game-winner and being in the right place at the right time. He really came us big for us (Saturday)," Scott Drew told the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Not to mention, Jones provided the game-tying layup as time expired at No. 6 Texas in 2010; Baylor later won that game in overtime. That was Baylor's last road win over a Top 25 team before Saturday in College Station.
Baylor and Texas A&M playing overtime? Is it a coincidence that ESPN Classic aired a replay of Baylor's 5OT win in 2008 at No. 16 Texas A&M on Friday? Maybe. Nevertheless, Baylor snapped its three-game Big 12 road losing streak - and its two-game losing streak in College Station - behind Jones III's career-high 27 points. LaceDarius Dunn was on fire in the first half, scoring 14 points, but cooled off in the second half to finish with 17.
After a tough road loss Tuesday at Oklahoma that seemed to dash its NCAA tournament hopes, Baylor recorded its first signature win Saturday. It was Baylor's first Top 50 RPI win this season (Texas A&M had RPI of 32). Before Saturday, Baylor's best RPI win was Jan. 22 vs. Oklahoma State (46). According to RealTimeRPI.com, Baylor's RPI jumped to 76. And while Baylor finally nabbed that signature win it was seeking, there is still plenty of work to be done, according to ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan.
Seven games to go, Baylor is in third place, a half-game up on the middle of the Big 12 pack. With four of Baylor's last seven Big 12 games at home, it is critical that the Bears protect their home floor and then take care of business on the road. And the momentum Baylor needs starts Wednesday against Nebraska.
If we hadn't already seen enough snow during our epic journey through Oklahoma which rivaled anything you ever experienced playing Oregon Trail, the Baylor basketball team saw snow for the second time in 72 hours. Yep, it snowed overnight in Central Texas. It wasn't anything like the Great Blizzard of 2011 (also known as the "Snowpocalypse" on Twitter) since Waco only saw 2-3 inches accumulate. Nevertheless, the Bears will travel just 90 minutes down Highway 6 South to College Station for the 202nd renewal of the "Battle of the Brazos" series with Texas A&M.
90 minutes. That's about the amount of time it should take to reach the Texas state line from Norman, Okla. 90 minutes. After an upsetting 73-66 road loss at Oklahoma, Baylor pulled out of the Lloyd Noble Center parking lot at 4:50 p.m. on Wednesday. And when our bus merged onto I-35 South, we all realized it was going to be a. long. slow. road. home. Did I mention long and slow? Some 45 minutes later - and only 15 minutes south of Norman - interstate travel was ominous. Single-file traffic traveling at a snail's pace.
So slow...that by the end of the trip, we watched ALL THREE basketball games televised Wednesday night on ESPN. Thank goodness for DirecTV on the bus. And electrical outlets. Midway through the second half of the Missouri-Oklahoma State, we finally crossed the Red River into Texas. What normally takes 90 minutes to travel from Norman to the state line took us in upwards of four hours...Four hours. But, we weren't out of the woods yet...We still had time to watch "Wild Bill" and the Nevada-Utah State game.
Once we reached Denton, it was smooth sailing - relative to driving in Oklahoma - the rest of the way. Finally home, the bus reached the Ferrell Center tunnel in the wee hours of Thursday morning at 12:10 a.m. As I type this blog, the Bears are back on the bus on their way to College Station. A 90-minute bus ride. But it won't turn into a three-hour - or, in Wednesday's case, a seven-hour - tour.
The seven-hour trip home was after it took the Bears five hours to reach Norman on Monday night.
We spent 24 more hours in Norman than planned, but the endless supply of coffee in the Courtyard by Marriott lobby helped me make it through. The snow was beautiful and I had never been in a blizzard before, but I had also never traveled with a team that had a game postponed because of weather like this. It was certainly an experience albeit the outcome of the game.
In a way, I find it fitting that Friday was declared a "Snow Day" by the University; we just managed to fight through snow, ice and more to travel home from Oklahoma. Now, the Bears have to fight through more snow and other wintry stuff to travel 90 miles down the road for another game.
But, that's life in the Big 12.
THE OREGON OKLAHOMA TRAIL SUMMARY
In a Snow Daze
7:15 P.M., TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2011
CHRIS YANDLE (EMAIL)
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We haven't been in Norman for 24 hours and yet it feels like we've been here for days. And while Central Texas is being hit with plunging temperatures, ice and snow flurries, the entire state of Oklahoma is in a "State of Emergency" thanks to Winter Storm 2011. A blizzard has blanketed a large portion of the nation in snow; Norman has probably received in excess of 10 inches of snow in the last 24 hours.
First, let me start from the beginning. In between movies on the bus ride Monday night from Waco to Norman, ESPN announced that Stephen Howard was replacing Doug Gottlieb as the color analyst for Tuesday's game because Gottlieb wasn't going to make it due to the weather. After dinner Monday night at the Olive Garden, Winter Storm 2011 began with "thunder snow" and blustery winds blowing ice and snow which felt like shards of glass pelting our faces as we ran to the bus.
Around 11 a.m. today with winds and snow swirling outside Baylor's team hotel, talks began about the possibility of postponing Tuesday night's game. The game officials were stuck somewhere north of Dallas with the blizzard just starting to pick up steam and the ESPN production truck was stranded 90 miles south of Norman in Ardmore, Okla. Shortly after 12:30 p.m., it was decided that Tuesday's game would be postponed to Wednesday at 2 p.m. CST with no TV. The game will be streamed live - for free - on www.SoonerSports.com. Admission to the game is free for those willing to brave the elements Wednesday afternoon.
Once Tuesday's game was scrapped, the Bears headed to Lloyd Noble Center for practice. By the time Baylor finished practice, the blizzard-like conditions had ceased - for the most part. There was snow as far as the eye could see outside Lloyd Noble Center; it was still cold though as players and staff members scurried to the bus as quickly as possible. Ashley Farrell of Sic 'em Sports Productions braved the elements to capture footage of the team running from the arena through the snow to the bus. Fred Ellis and few teammates threw some snowballs at each other before retreating the warmth of the bus.
Finally on the bus, the team headed to post-practice lunch at Cracker Barrel which is located within a stone's throw of our hotel. We still had to avoid snow drifts and snow shovels on our short trek to the hotel. Once we thawed out from the wintry weather, Pat Nunley, John Morris and Quincy Acy filmed some video for BaylorBears.com. Now the Bears are stuck inside for the rest of the night which is a good thing because IT. IS. COLD. OUTSIDE. Temperatures are expected to be below zero Wednesday morning.
Since the Baylor-Oklahoma game will not be televised, fans can tune their radios to the Baylor-IMG College Radio Network on ESPN Central Texas - 1660 AM (Waco), 106.9 FM (Killeen), 101.3 FM (Waco) and 100.9 FM (Temple) - beginning at 1:30 p.m. CST or listen online at BaylorBears.com. Wednesday's game will tip at 2 p.m.
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