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Daily Bears Report 12/20

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Bears earning more Big XII awards. Russell out for Senior Bowl?

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball

Montemayor’s selection marks Baylor’s first preseason All-American since 2009, when Aaron Miller and Kendal Volz were honored by Baseball America. Overall, he is the Bears’ 13th preseason All-American since 1998 and second overall named by Collegiate Baseball (Zane Carlson, 2001). Montemayor is one of 30 on the second team list, one of eight on the three-team, 81-man list representing the Big 12 and one of nine relief pitchers on the 81-man list.

Montemayor is coming off a sophomore season that earned him first-team 2016 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings Midwest All-Region and first-team All-Big 12 selections, while also being one of 43 semifinalists for the 2016 Gregg Olson Award (breakout player of the year).

Excelling in his first season as closer, the San Antonio native led the Big 12 and ranked tied for seventh in the country with 14 saves in 2016. Montemayor converted his first eight career save attempts and 14 of 15. In 24 appearances, he posted a 1-1 record and 0.78 ERA, giving up just four runs on 15 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts over 23 innings while holding hitters to a .188 batting average.

Montemayor is the ninth player in BU history to record 10 or more saves in a season (first since Josh Michalec set the single-season Baylor and Big 12 records with 21 saves in 2014) and his 2016 season ranks tied for third on BU's single-season saves list and he is already eighth on BU's career list.

Women’s Basketball

  • Senior Khadijiah Cave and freshman Lauren Cox were recognized by the Big 12 Conference office Monday. Cave earned the first Big 12 Co-Player of the Week award of her career, while Cox picked up her second Big 12 Freshman of the Week honor for their roles in Baylor’s 140-32 record-setting win over Winthrop. From Baylor Bears dot com.

Cave came off the bench to lead the Lady Bears in scoring with a career-high 25 points in 13 minutes on the floor. Her previous career-high was 23 points, which she accomplished against TCU on Feb. 21, 2015. It was the fifth 20-point game of her career and it is her seventh time leading Baylor in scoring.

Cave turned in a near-perfect shooting performance, netting a career-high 11 of a career-high 12 field goal attempts (.917) and all three free throw attempts. She also recorded two rebounds and one block in the game.

In the first start of her collegiate career, Cox set career-highs with 23 points and four blocks in 19 minutes of action. She sunk a career-high 10 of a career-high 16 field goal attempts (.625) and was a perfect 3-of-3 from the free throw line. It is the second 20-point game of her career and her fourth time in double figures as a Lady Bear.

Cox also set a career-high with two steals, matched her career-high with three assists and collected eight rebounds, one shy of her career-high of nine boards in Baylor’s record-setting victory.

No. 3/4 Baylor begins Big 12 Conference play on Dec. 29 against Kansas State. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. (CT) inside the Ferrell Center.

Men’s Basketball

  • Unbeaten defending national champion Villanova held on to the top spot for the third straight week in The Associated Press Top 25, released Monday. From Sporting News.

The Wildcats (11-0) received 56 of 65 first-place votes from the national media panel.

UCLA remained No. 2, garnering three first-place votes. No. 4 Baylor got the other six first-place votes but still trailed No. 3 Kansas, also of the Big 12.

  • Bracketology: Villanova, Baylor, UCLA, Kansas are No. 1 seeds; Duke, UK No. 2s. Baylor surges up to the top line and are just behind Villanova, the No. 1 overall seed. Story at CBSSports by Jerry Palm.

Now that we are a little more than a month into the season, it's time for a new bracket to see where everyone stands as conference play approaches.

It looks like the race for the top seeds in the bracket could last all season. It's easy to identify a dozen or more teams that are capable of the kind of season that gets rewarded with a No. 1 seed.

  • Baylor junior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. has been named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Men’s Basketball Newcomer of the Week, as voted on by a panel of media members and announced Monday by the conference office. From Baylor Bears dot com.

Lual-Acuil joins Manu Lecomte to give the Bears two different Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honorees in the same season for the fifth time in league history. Combined with Player of the Week honors earned by Lecomte on Dec. 5 and Johnathan Motley on Nov. 28, Baylor players have now won four Big 12 weekly awards in the season’s first six weeks.

Lual-Acuil is the 21st different Baylor player to be recognized as the league’s Newcomer of the Week in the conference’s 21-year history. Those players have won the award a combined 31 times, with 25 of those coming in the last 13 years under Scott Drew. BU players won the award six times in the league’s first eight years.

Lual-Acuil helped the Bears to a 3-0 record during the week, averaging 12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in 22.3 minutes per game. He shot .667 from the field, connecting on 16-of-24 field goal attempts to raise his season total to .618, which ranks second in the Big 12.

The Melbourne, Australia, native posted a career-high 17 points, six rebounds and five blocks in 25 minutes of Saturday’s win vs. Jackson State. He followed that up with 11 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 19 minutes Sunday against John Brown, and earlier in the week he recorded 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 23 minutes vs. Southern.

Lual-Acuil’s current season average of 4.18 blocks per game ranks second nationally and is on pace to break Brian Skinner’s Baylor single-season record of 3.83 blocks per game.

Iowa State’s Nazareth Mitrou-Long was named Big 12 Player of the Week after scoring 37 points in a win over Drake.

The Bears return to action by hosting Texas Southern at 6:30 p.m. CT Wednesday at the Ferrell Center in their final non-conference game before opening Big 12 play at Oklahoma on Dec. 30. Baylor’s first Big 12 home game is Jan. 4 vs. Iowa State.

Baylor’s Feb. 18 home game against Kansas is sold out, but tickets for all other home games are available at www.BaylorBears.com/tickets or by calling the Baylor Athletic Ticket Office at 254-710-1000. Follow @BaylorMBB on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat for updates throughout the season.

ODB Trivia

  • Our Daily Bears @OurDailyBears has almost twice as many Twitter followers at 16,679 as the Baylor Lariat @bulariat at 9,076.

Football

  • Baylor football is two weeks away from squaring up with Boise State in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl and is currently knee deep in preparation for the Broncos. From Baylor Lariat.

However, several Baylor seniors have added an additional game to their football schedule, as well as an additional opportunity to try and elevate their draft stock and impress scouts.

Senior quarterback Seth Russell and senior offensive lineman Kyle Fuller have accepted invitations to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, a game that pits senior players from universities in the Northern United States against senior players from the Southern United States. The game has been an annual tradition every year since its inception in 1950.

Russell, however, broke his ankle in a 45-25 loss to Oklahoma on Nov. 12. As a result, Russell has accepted the invitation to be a member of the team, but will not play in the game.

Russell will be joined by Fuller, who is often considered the anchor of the Baylor offensive line.

Having come in with only 1 commitment, the Baylor coaches have had to evaluate and offer quickly in order to start building relationships with kids and fill this 2017 class.

This past week showed that this coaching staff is up to the challenge, as the coaching staff extended a whopping 30 offers this past week.

With the dead period in full effect, the coaching staff hasn't been able to have anyone on campus, but they have been able to talk to and offer kids. This is important, as it shows Baylor's interests and allows the coaches to begin to build relationships with players as they had to the finish line that is signing day.

Big XII Bowl Predictions

  • How could the Big 12 bowl games go down over the next three weeks? From Fox Sports.

The college football regular season recently ended, but that brings us to the annual set of bowl games. This will see six Big 12 teams with a matchup: Baylor, West Virginia, TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Oklahoma. Texas, Texas Tech, Kansas, and Iowa State are on the outside looking in due to not reaching six wins.

On Tuesday, December 27, Baylor and Boise State will go to battle in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl. Each team had a fair amount of success in the 2016 season, but only one of them could sustain this....