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Baylor’s Thriller Over Oklahoma State Gives Life To Season

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Just when it appeared as if Baylor had won an important Big 12 conference game, the Oklahoma State Cowboys were not ready to go home yet.

OKSU’s Leyton Hammonds stole Gary Franklin’s inbound pass and connected on a leaning three-point dagger to tie the game as time expired. It was impressive for Hammonds, a freshman, to hit the three as a bench player on the road. Coming off a double-overtime victory against Kansas State, it was Baylor’s turn to be on the ugly end of a game-tying desperation heave.

The Bears’ Cory Jefferson played especially well in overtime as he connected on a pivotal three-point basket to open overtime that swung the momentum.  He also notched two free-throws to seal the game for Baylor.

BU has won two big character-building games at home, but the question is whether or not it will translate into victories on the road as well. The Bears play at West Virginia and at No. 19 Texas coming up on the conference schedule.

The Mountaineers were able to steal a victory in Waco, Tex., but Baylor will be looking to even the season series with WVU and continue its hot streak. After a poor performance against Texas, West Virginia will be looking to rebound against Baylor so this has the makings of a hotly contested, tournament-type game.

If the Bears’ frontcourt travels with the tenacity they’ve been playing at home with recently, BU should prove problematic for the Mountaineers in the interior and post.

Regardless of the results of the WVU game, a win for Baylor against Texas would be a very attractive accomplishment for an NCAA tourney bid.

The first time these two teams met, the Bears were ranked. The tables have turned, but both teams are playing well as of late. Both teams are ranked within the top-20 in the nation for rebounding. However, Baylor is 4.5 games behind Texas in the conference standings and has to climb its way from the gutter of the conference.

As tournament time approaches, the last remaining games are critical for everyone in the Big 12—you can add the Baylor Bears to that mix.

DeMario Phipps-Smith is the writer of mid-major NCAA basketball content for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @demariopsmith or add him to your network on Google

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NCAA Tournament Profile: Baylor Bears

Record: 24-9

RPI: 10

BPI: 19

Conference: Big 12 Conference

How They Qualified: At-Large Berth

Region: No. 3 seed in West

 

The Baylor Bears didn’t win the Big 12 title, but there was no question that they were an NCAA tournament team entering the Big 12 tourney. That tends to be the case when a team is ranked in the top 25 entering the final week of the season.

The Bears had the pleasure of playing in the dance last season, but they went down to the Wisconsin Badgers, who ended up making a run to the Final Four.

This time around, they have the talent to make a similar run to Wisconsin’s, and playing in the very deep Big 12 certainly didn’t hurt. Translation: Baylor is tournament tested, if you will.

 

What You Need to Know:

Leading Scorer: Taurean Prince (13.8 PPG)

Leading Rebounder: Rico Gathers (11.6 RPG)

Leading Passer: Kenny Chery (4.0 APG)

Bad Losses: None

Good Wins: Iowa State (twice), Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia (x3)

 

Would you look at all of those quality wins. Iowa State, Oklahoma and West Virginia all have the talent to make a Final Four run. All three of those teams won’t make that type of run, but the talent is still definitely there.

Although Baylor doesn’t exactly have star power, said star power doesn’t always mean everything, especially in a tournament as crazy as the Big Dance. The team does have four players who are averaging 10+ points per game, and can keep up with the best of them. Once again, the Bears did manage to knock off Iowa State … twice.

The Baylor Bears are dancing!

Trevor Lowry is a Content Associate at RantSports.com. If you’re a tweeter feel free to follow him @TheTrevorLowry, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

The Baylor Bears may have had an early exit last season, but this year's squad has the talent to make a serious run.

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