In the earlier of the two games for Baylor's basketball teams, the men, led by Perry Jones III, played possibly their best game of the season to beat the Kansas State Wildcats and all but assure themselves of at least a #3 seed. Some may think it presumptuous for me to say that, and I certainly don't know it for a fact, but it stands to reason that Baylor has a good enough resume, RPI, and ranking for the committee to name them one of the best 12 teams in the country.
Even more importantly, Baylor actually played today like the team their rankings say they are. Much better than that, in fact. Baylor outshot, outrebounded, and generally outplayed the Wildcats from start-to-finish, and in non-typical Baylor MBB fashion, built a 9-point halftime lead into one over 16 before garbage time in the second half. Don't let the final score (Baylor "only" won the game by 8 points) fool you; Baylor thrashed the Wildcats today.
As Tim detailed this afternoon in his Overreaction Central post, Perry Jones III led the way for the Bears in a performance that leaves Baylor fans thinking "where has this been all season?" I'm not going to go into tremendous detail about it since Tim already did; suffice to say that he was, to put it mildly, transcendent. If Baylor can get that same production from him going forward, erase whatever thoughts you might have had about an early exit from your mind. With the aggressive, productive, and efficient PJ3 Bears fans saw today in those god-awful "electric" uniforms,* Baylor has the Final Four-caliber team we anticipated we'd see this year.
*I seriously hated the neon yellow, but if that's how Perry Jones III is going to play when we wear it, I hope we wear nothing but.
Head below the jump for more about this game, the Lady Bears' ho-hum mauling of Texas Tech, and how each conference tournament looks going forward.
(21-10) Rank: RV/RV
Big 12 Championship Quarterfinals
(26-6) Rank: #12/11
Before I move on from the men's game, and I could easily write several thousand words about it, I wanted to recognize the greatness (today) of the architect of Baylor basketball, Scott Drew. I don't pretend to know the theory of basketball the same way I do other sports or nearly as well as others on this blog, but even my uneducated eyes could see that Baylor's plan today, particularly in the first half, for dealing with Kansas State offensively and defensively was pitch-perfect. That Baylor was able to execute the plan might have been the biggest difference between this and other games (meaning that the plan in other games might have been just as good and I didn't realize it because of execution), I just don't know. What I do know is that today I saw a well-prepared machine, on offense and defense, that worked to perfection and imposed its will on a good opponent. And make no mistake about it, Kansas State is a good basketball team.
For highlights and more statistics from this game, here is the official postgame report from BaylorBears.com. Here are a few other links about the game for your perusal:
Rapid Reaction: Baylor 82, Kansas State 74 - College Basketball Nation Blog - ESPN
Perry Jones scored a season-high 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Brady Heslip added 15 to spark Baylor to an 82-74 victory over Kansas State Thursday at the Sprint Center. The victory catapults the Bears into a Friday semifinal game against Kansas.
Baylor's Perry Jones blocks 'the noise,' starts having 'fun' - NCAA Basketball - Sporting News
When he stepped aboard the plane that would carry him toward the Big 12 Tournament, sophomore forward Perry Jones received a stirring ovation from his teammates with the Baylor Bears. Merely by traveling to the game, he already had done more in pursuit of the 2012 title than he had a year earlier.
Baylor rolls past Kansas State as Jones displays talents - Houston Chronicle
Showing more aggression than he had at almost any other point in his college career, Jones scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Baylor to an 82-74 victory at the Sprint Center. Regarded as a likely NBA lottery pick due to his physical abilities, Jones battled passivity and ineffectiveness for most of his sophomore season, and he averaged just 9.2 points while shooting 35 percent from the field during his previous eight games. In a three-guard lineup, Brady Heslip, Pierre Jackson and Walton combined for 39 points for Baylor, which will face Kansas in Friday's semifinals.
Baylor's Perry Jones has career day - College Basketball Nation Blog - ESPN
Numerous times since becoming a basketball player, Baylor’s Perry Jones has received cheers after a thunderous dunk or a shot to win a game. But he’s never heard applause on an airplane. Or at least he hadn’t until this week.
NCAA College Basketball Recap - Kansas State Wildcats at Baylor Bears - Mar 08, 2012 - CBSSports.com
Perry Jones III scored a career-high 31 points, hitting 11 of 14 shots, and powered No. 12 Baylor past Kansas State 82-74 on Thursday in the Big 12 tournament.
Baylor rolls past Kansas State as Jones puts on show - Houston Chronicle
A.J. Walton considers himself closer to Perry Jones III than anyone else on Baylor’s team. Like Jones, he’s been criticized for not living up to his potential, and he claims to know all about what he calls "the noise in (Jones’) head."
Jones III scores 31, Baylor beats Kansas St 82-74 - Boston.com
Never fond of conference tournaments to begin with, this sure didn't change Frank Martin's mind.
The way ahead:
One of the other quarterfinal games, Texas vs. Iowa State, is still being played as of this writing (Texas leads). That game is relatively close, so I don't know which of them will get the honor of losing to Missouri, who laid a Lady Bear-esque beatdown on Oklahoma State today. I'm hoping that it is Iowa State since a Texas loss basically ensures that Texas's NCAA tournament streak comes to an end.
In the other non-Baylor game today, Kansas predictably ran away from Texas A&M. In doing so, Kansas set themselves up for the earlier matchup tomorrow night at 6:30 on ESPU against our Baylor Bears.
Baylor Lady Bears:
(19-13) Rank: NR//NR
Big 12 Championship Quarterfinals
(32-0) Rank: #1/1
Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, the #1-ranked, undefeated Baylor Lady Bears also moved into the semifinals of the conference tournament this afternoon. Odyssey Sims led the way for Baylor, who really never had to worry about this game after the opening tip. The the length of this portion of the post is going to seem awfully misogynistic of me and I don't mean it to be; I just didn't get a chance to watch the women's game today myself so I don't have a lot to say about it. I followed it online and on twitter, so I know that they absolutely ran away with it in the first half, as I'm sure everyone expected them to do. A halftime score of 40-16 is just about as dominating a performance as it gets in college basketball, men's or women's.
BaylorBears.com's coverage of the game focuses on the usual suspects, Sims and Griner, and the overall team defense, which held Texas Tech to their lowest point total of the season against the Bears and turned the game into a rout. In the other two matchups this season, Tech's ladies managed to frustrate the Lady Bears sufficiently and sink enough shots to keep the games close. They were unsuccessful in both respects today. A few links about this game from people actually were able to watch:
No. 1 Baylor tops Texas Tech 72-48 in Big 12 - Boston.com
Odyssey Sims scored 18 points and Brittney Griner had 15 points, nine rebounds and five blocks to power No. 1 Baylor over Texas Tech 72-48 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 women's tournament on Thursday.
Texas Tech women come apart early vs. No. 1 Baylor
After two closes losses against Baylor in the regular season, Texas Tech had hope for an upset of the nation's top-ranked team. That hope didn't last very long. Not even until halftime, really.
Sims scores 18 points, Griner 15 in No. 1 Baylor’s 72-48 rout of Texas Tech in Big 12 tourney - The Washington Post
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Odyssey Sims and Brittney Griner made it easy for No. 1 Baylor to move into the semifinals of the Big 12 women’s tournament.
Texas Tech Lady Raiders vs. Baylor Lady Bears - Recap - March 08, 2012 - ESPN
NCAA Women's Basketball Recap: Final statistics from the Texas Tech Lady Raiders vs. Baylor Lady Bears game played on March 08, 2012
The way ahead:
In the other conference games played today, Oklahoma won over Missouri, Kansas State edged Iowa State, and Texas A&M, the biggest threat to Baylor winning the conference tournament, routed Kansas.
The semifinal matchups in the tournament now pit Baylor vs. Kansas State at noon followed by Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M at 2:30 PM. Both games will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest.