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Daily Bears Report 1/10/17

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Bears at Muntaineers. MBB Ranked No. 1 in AP and Coach’s Polls. Johnathan Motley and Kalani Brown Named Big XII Players of the Week.

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s Events

No. 1 Men's Basketball, at No. 10 West Virginia, 6:00 PM CT, Listen, Watch ESPN2

  • It will be the second time in as many years the WVU Coliseum will play host to college basketball’s top-ranked team. From WVU Sports dot com.

Last year, WVU defeated No. 1 Kansas 74-63 in front of 12,097 fans.

“Isn’t this league something?” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We beat Kansas, which was No. 1 in the country last year, and then we went to Oklahoma when they were going to be No. 1 in the country the following week and they beat us on a tip-in at the buzzer. This league is just … we went a long time here and didn’t play the No. 1 team in the country until we beat Vegas (1983). Now all of a sudden, you get one like twice a year.”

The game will tip off at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

  • Here at the continental divide of the college basketball regular season – this week is the halfway mark – time to pause and take a look around. Not everything has gone quite as planned, has it? Story by Mike Lopresti from NCAA dot com.

All 10 teams in the Big XII conference have received votes in the polls at some point this season. This included TCU, who went 12-21 last season but started this one 12-2.

“As highly competitive a league as maybe we’ve ever had,” Kansas coach Bill Self said, and it certainly began that way. The first five games between Big 12 teams were settled by 11 total points.

Then there’s Baylor. The Bears’ unlikely journey to the top of the polls for the first time in their history has been fueled by a flair for the comeback. In starting 15-0, Baylor trailed at halftime in six of the wins and outscored the opponent by at least nine points in the second half each time.

On the cusp of being No. 1, the Bears slipped by unranked Iowa State and Oklahoma State by two and four points at home. With a trip to West Virginia – where the Mountaineers’ turnover margin was 13.7, which is nearly seven better than anyone else in the country – it’s a question of how long they will stay there.

Golf

Baylor’s Jimmy Walker was introduced as the defending champion each of the past two years at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Story By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange, from UPI dot com.

Pretty cool, but the experience this week figures to be even better.

When he reaches the first tee on Thursday at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, the on-course announcer will present Walker as the reigning PGA champion, having claimed his first major title last August at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J.

A few years ago, nobody would have thought it was possible for Walker to win a major because he was winless on the PGA Tour since turning pro out of Baylor in 2001.

Three months after claiming his first victory on the circuit at the 2013 Frys.com Open, in his 188th PGA Tour event, Walker came to Waialae and closed with a 7-under-par 63 to beat Chris Kirk by one stroke.

A year later, he played the weekend in 62-63 to beat Scott Piercy by a whopping nine strokes in the 2015 Sony.

"Love Hawaii, love playing here, love the golf course," said Walker, who also won three times on what is now the Web.com Tour and once on the PGA Canada Tour.

Track and Field

The Baylor women’s track and field team was ranked No. 13 in the preseason edition of the NCAA National Team Computer Rankings that the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released Monday. From Baylor Bears dot com.

The No. 13 preseason ranking is the second-highest in program history, behind only last year’s preseason ranking of No. 11. Baylor has now been ranked inside the top-20 at one point in each of the last eight seasons.

BU racked up a total of 54.99 points in the computer-generated rankings. The points are compiled by a mathematical formula based on national descending order lists from 2016 of returning athletes.

Meanwhile, the men’s squad will begin 2017 just outside the top 25 at No. 27.

Baylor will open the season with the Texas A&M Team Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 14 in College Station, Texas. Continue Reading . . .

Man Bears Basketball

Johnathan Motley is recognized as the Big XII Player of the Week for the second time this year. From WIBW News.

Posted double-doubles in both outings while leading Baylor to wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

Averaged 13.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.

Shot 66.7 percent (10-of-15) from the field in two contests.

Scored six straight points to start second half versus OSU, helping Bears take a 31-30 lead after trailing by five at the break.

  • Baylor men's basketball was ranked No. 1 nationally in both the Associated Press and coaches' top 25 polls released on Monday. From Baylor Bears dot com.

It's the first time in program history the Bears have been voted to the nation's top spot in the rankings.

Baylor made the fastest climb from unranked to No. 1 in AP poll history. The Bears were unranked -- and didn't receive a single vote -- in the week 1 AP poll released on Nov. 14. Just eight weeks later, Baylor claimed the No. 1 spot after starting the season 15-0. BU is the fourth team to go from preseason unranked to No. 1, joining 1978-79 Indiana State, 1989-90 Kansas and 2009-10 Syracuse.

Baylor broke into the AP poll at No. 20 on Nov. 21. The Bears then climbed to No. 9 a week later after winning the 2016 Battle 4 Atlantis. BU moved up to No. 4 on Dec. 5 after knocking off Xavier for its third top-10 win of the season, and the Bears remained in the No. 4 spot in the Dec. 12, Dec. 19 and Dec. 26 polls. Baylor moved to No. 2 last week and claimed the nation's top ranking on Monday.

Head coach Scott Drew has had the Bears ranked at some point in each of the last 10 seasons, but BU's best ranking before this season was No. 3 on Jan. 16, 2012. That same poll was the only time Baylor received a single first-place vote in program history prior to this season, and this year's squad has earned a total of 86 first-place votes in the AP poll.

No change at the top: Baylor continues to have the best resume in the land after wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

(For those unfamiliar: The Bears are undefeated against the No. 19 schedule in the land, per Sagarin, and have beaten Oregon, Xavier, Michigan State, Louisville and Virginia Commonwealth, plus OSU and ISU.) Continue Reading . . .

Lady Bears Basketball

Baylor women’s basketball sophomore Kalani Brown earns her second Big 12 Conference Player of the Week honor of the season and her career. From Baylor Bears dot com.

Brown led the Lady Bears to a pair of Big 12 road wins at No. 17/16 West Virginia and at Oklahoma State, averaging a double-double with 16.5 points and 10.0 rebounds. She shot .714 (10-14) from the floor to pace the squad on the week and went .867 (13-15) from the charity stripe.

Against the Mountaineers, Brown registered her third double-double in four games with 16 points and 11 rebounds in the team’s sixth ranked win of the season. It was her fifth double-double of the season and the sixth of her career. She sunk 6-of-8 (.750) field goal attempts in the contest, playing 22 minutes of the game.

The Slidell, La., native posted a team-high 17 points and nine rebounds against the Cowgirls, finishing one board shy of another double-double. Brown was a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line, setting a career-high for free throws made in a game. She went 4-of-6 from the floor, while adding three assists, two blocks and one steal in 22 minutes played.

The Lady Bears are back in action inside the Ferrell Center against TCU on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CT).

Football

  • Barring any more changes in the days to come, Baylor head football coach Matt Rhule has managed to succeed in one of his first jobs at Baylor. From NBC Sports dot com.

That task is keeping the roster together. Consider that one mission accomplished following the announcement by one player confirming he will not be transferring to a new program in 2017.

Cornerback Jordan Tolbert, who had previously thought to be considering a transfer out of Waco, announced via Twitter he will in fact be staying put right where he is. The return of Tolbert will help keep the Baylor secondary with some solid depth in the new season even if he does not make a push for a starting job. Continue Reading . . .

  • Baylor may have a hot quarterback competition in the offseason to replace Seth Russell. From CBS Sports.

According to 247Sports, former Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon is transferring to the Bears' program as a graduate student. Solomon will likely compete with Zach Smith, who will be a sophomore, for the starting job. Smith started the final four games of the season, including the 31-12 Cactus Bowl win over Boise State, for the injured Russell and passed for 1,526 yards and 13 touchdowns. Continue Reading . . .

Quincy Acy

News Clippings

Newly minted No. 1 Bears face stern test against No. 10 Mountaineers - WacoTrib.com: Baylor Men's Basketball, The Baylor men’s basketball team was thrilled when it learned it’s ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history. Now the Bears have to go out and prove they can stay in that exalted spot. With a neon target on their backs, the Bears will face two tough road games this week beginning with No. 10 West Virginia at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Morgantown. Baylor will travel to Manhattan to play No. 25 Kansas State on Saturday.

Top-ranked Baylor in Morgantown this evening | Sports | bdtonline.com, The top-ranked men’s basketball team in the country is coming to Morgantown tonight.

Charleston Gazette-Mail | West Virginia men prepare to host top-ranked Baylor, MORGANTOWN — When the Big 12 coaches unveiled their preseason poll in October, Kansas was once again at the top, in search of a 13th straight regular-season conference title. West Virginia was the team considered most likely to block the path as the second-place pick. Iowa State received the lone first-place vote that didn’t go to the Jayhawks, meaning Kansas coach Bill Self, who couldn’t vote for his team, thought highly of the Cyclones.

Baylor about to experience good -- and bad -- of being No. 1 - ABC News, Baylor about to experience good -- and bad -- of being No. 1

Baylor soars to No. 1 in for first time in program history | The Baylor Lariat, Drake might be the best suited to describe the Baylor men’s basketball’s season thus far when he writes, "Started from the bottom, now we’re here."

No. 1 Baylor set for stern test vs. No. 10 W. Virginia (Jan 10, 2017) | FOX Sports, MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Baylor ascended to No. 1 in the The Associated Press poll Monday, quite a climb for a team that began the season unranked.

Undefeated Baylor takes over No. 1 spot in AP poll | College Sports | stltoday.com, A decades-long Baylor fan got emotional with coach Scott Drew after the Bears won their last game to remain one of two undefeated teams in the country.

High basketball rankings bring positive attention to Baylor - WacoTrib.com: Higher Education, Kim Mulkey remembers well the cloud that hung over the Baylor University men’s basketball program in 2003.