Cory Jefferson and Brady Heslip lead Baylor to 74-61 win over #16 Iowa State

This is the best we have so far. - Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Powered by the combination of Jefferson and Heslip, the Baylor Bears had a Senior Night to remember, beating #16 Iowa State at home to virtually secure a NCAA Tournament bid.

A Baylor team once left for dead both within this blog and without has now made one of the greatest runs in school history, winning 6 of its last 7 games to go from hoping for the NIT (or not) to off the bubble and (probably) in the NCAA Tournament.  Tonight, in the last home game for seniors Cory Jefferson, Brady Heslip, and Gary Franklin, the first two put up performances to remember in leading the Bears to almost definitely the biggest win of the season thus far.  The Bears are now 20-10 (8-9) with 6 wins over RPI Top 50 teams (UK, CU, OSUx2, KSU, ISU) and one more opportunity remaining on the schedule.

The players of the game tonight are not at all difficult to figure out.  In their final game in the friendly confines of the Ferrell Center, Cory Jefferson and Brady Heslip scored 21 and 18 points, respectively, with Jefferson pouring his in on a remarkably efficient 8-13 from the field.  Heslip threw on the 3-goggles, going 5-8.  Kenny Chery, a non-starter tonight so that Gary Franklin could be in his final game, added 16 points and 6 assists.  Baylor as a team had just 9 turnovers in the game, continuing a strong recent streak in that regard.  They also made the most of their free throws, hitting 13/17 from the line.

Deandre Kane led the Cyclones with 20 points, followed by Dustin Hogue with 12.  Melvin Ejim, ISU's leading scorer coming into this game, had just 6 and Georges Niang just 4.  You can view the full box score here.


Bears Basketball Schedule

Next 5 Games

@ Kansas St. Sat 03/08 12:30 PM CST

Last 5 Games

Iowa St. Tue 03/04 W 74 - 61
Texas Tech Sat 03/01 W 59 - 49
@ Texas Wed 02/26 L 69 - 74
@ West Virginia Sat 02/22 W 88 - 75
Oklahoma St. Mon 02/17 W 70 - 64

After tonight, the Bears have just one game left on the schedule before the Big 12 tournament begins.  With the win tonight, that one in Manhattan is no longer a must-win.  That's good, since Kansas State is something like 200-1 there this season.

It's hard to overstate the importance of this game tonight.  It's obviously not official and won't be for about a week, but by all indications, Baylor punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a huge win over a ranked foe.  That they were able to win tonight and move to 8-9 in Big 12 play (in the best conference in college basketball) where once they were 2-8 is nothing short of incredible.  It is a testament to the resiliency of the team in not quitting when they easily could have and the motivation from a certain coach that hardly anybody compliments these days.  This program has showed a lot of heart recently, no?

I'll look forward to that one on twitter.

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