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The Shootaround: Dream Big

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With a huge week that included wins over two ranked opponents, Baylor is still in the hunt for a Big 12 championship with #2 Kansas coming to town

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Week In Review

#25 Baylor 100 #13 Iowa State 91 (OT)
91
IOWA STATE
(18-8, 7-6)
1ST 2ND OT F
35 46 10 91
41 40 19

Box ScoreQuotesNotesUSATSI Gallery Photo Gallery

Waco, Texas • Attendance: 5,556

100
BAYLOR
(19-7, 8-5)

I mentioned in last week’s Shootaround that I thought this was the biggest game of the season to see how Baylor would bounce back from the drubbing they took at home against Texas Tech. It was crucial that the Bears not drop four consecutive conference home games. Consider mission accomplished. Baylor was able to pick up its second win in as many weeks without Rico Gathers and picked up a 100-91 OT win over Iowa State in what really was a fantastic basketball game. Johnathan Motley and Terry Maston stepped up HUGE in Gathers’ absence. Motley poured in 27 points, tying his season high, and Maston added 15 as the Bears were able to work over the Cyclones in the paint. Four other Baylor players were also in double figures and Baylor had one of its most productive offensive games of the season with 24 assists to just 8 turnovers. Lester Medford and Ish Wainright were the catalysts for this as the two of them combined for 15 assists and just 1 turnover. When you’re getting that kind of play from your guards and your big men are turning it into consistent buckets down low, you’re going to be very difficult to beat. But Iowa State is one of the best offensive teams in all of college basketball and they were not easy to put away on this night. Abdel Nader, Georges Niang and Monte Morris all scored 20+ for ISU and though the Bears had a lead throughout much of the game, it seemed as if the Cyclones always had an answer. The game turned into a back and forth affair in the final minutes of regulation, but the Bears dodged a bullet at the buzzer as a potential Monte Morris game winner was determined by replay to be after the buzzer and the game went into overtime. Baylor controlled the OT from the jump as a couple of transition baskets allowed the Bears to build a lead and a clutch 3 from Wainright essentially sealed it with a minute to go. The defense also got some key stops down the stretch, led again by Motley who contributed 10 rebounds and 4 blocks. This is Baylor’s fourth consecutive win over Iowa State, which is especially impressive when you consider that Iowa State has been ranked in the top 15 for all four of those games. You could really sense that the players went into this game with a must win mentality and it showed. And I’m still awestruck by this Taurean Prince dunk.

#25 Baylor 78 #24 Texas 64
78
BAYLOR
(20-7, 9-5)
1ST 2ND F
40 38 78
22 42 64

Box ScoreNotesUSATSI Gallery Photo Gallery

Austin, Texas • Attendance: 16,540

64
TEXAS
(17-10, 8-6)

The Bears went into Austin on Saturday and absolutely stomped the Longhorns, winning 78-64 for BU’s most lopsided win in Austin in over 30 years. And frankly, this game was not anywhere near as close as the final score would indicate. It started from the tip as Baylor scored the game’s first 6 points and just continued to put pressure on UT throughout the first half. Baylor was consistently able to attack the paint for easy baskets, controlled the glass with ease, and played as aggressive defensively as we’ve seen all season. The perimeter players at the top of the zone were putting persistent pressure on the Texas guards and the Bears regularly double teamed when the ball went inside. This forced Texas into a number of tough, contested shots and it showed in the stats as Baylor held UT to a mere 22 points on 38% shooting in the 1st half. And as the Longhorns were trying to get a comeback going in the 2nd half, the Bears just would not allow it to happen. Johnathan Motley had another monster game with 24 points on 12-13 shooting, with his only miss coming in the final minute of the game. I also need to point out just how well Ish Wainright is playing right now as he is beginning to fill the Royce O’Neale role from last season. Ish had just 4 points but he contributed in many other ways that helps the team succeed: 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 3 steals, and 0 turnovers. Baylor never trailed in this contest and at one point led by as many as 27 points before Texas closed the gap towards the end to the final margin of 14. It was arguably Baylor’s most impressive performance of the season to date when you consider how well Texas has been playing recently and that they were 6-0 in Big 12 home games going into Saturday. It’s also interesting to point out that Scott Drew lost his first 13 games against Texas from 2003-2009. Since then? Baylor is 10-7 in its last 17 games against the Horns. This game has to give you hope that this Baylor team is beginning to peak at the right time and could be setting up for a big stretch run with two weeks to go in the regular season before the Big 12 tournament.

Motley Wins Big 12 POW

For his efforts over the past two games, Johnathan Motley found out today that he has earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors for the first time in his Baylor career. Motley averaged 25.5 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in the two games against Iowa State and Texas. He was an impact player on both ends of the court but especially on the offensive end where he was effective on the block, in transition, and is even showing a much improved mid-range game. So congrats to J-Mot and a note to Baylor's recent opponents:

Looking Ahead

#2 Kansas @ #19 Baylor
Ferrell Center (Waco, TX)
Feb. 23, 7:00 PM CT
ESPN2

The monster week that the Bears just had makes for a huge matchup in the Ferrell Center tomorrow night as Baylor hosts #2 Kansas with Big 12 championship implications on the line. Kansas has a two game lead on Baylor, Oklahoma and West Virginia with four games left in the regular season. So if Baylor has any hopes of winning its first Big 12 regular season championship, they must have a win in this game. This is a much different Baylor team than the one that got walloped 102-74 at Kansas in the conference opener way back on January 2nd. BU has really seemed to find a low post threat lately with Johnathan Motley and they remain a top 10 team nationally in terms of offensive efficiency. But this will be a different challenge against a Kansas team that is back to playing like its usual juggernaut self. The Jayhawks are honing in on their 12th (!!!) consecutive regular season conference championship and this year they seem to be peaking as March draws nearer. Bill Self’s squad has won seven consecutive games since a loss at Iowa State on January 25th and has been led by a group of upperclassmen in Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden, Frank Mason and Devonte Graham that have been through these battles time and time again. And the Jayhawks are extremely well rounded, one of six teams in the country to rank in the top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency according to KenPom. This game should be a battle and the Bears have a chance to pull off the win if they continue to play the way that they did over the past week. It’s a game that could come down to one possession which means Baylor can use all the help it can get. This means WE NEED YOU!!! If you have any capability of getting to the Ferrell Center at 7:00 tomorrow night, do your best to make it happen. This team is playing its best basketball of the season and they deserve fan support that reflects it. Let this video get you hype.

#19 Baylor @ TCU
Schollmaier Arena (Fort Worth, TX)
Feb. 27, 7:00 PM CT
ESPNU

Baylor makes its first appearance at TCU’s new Schollmaier Arena as the Bears look to sweep the Horned Frogs for the fourth consecutive season since TCU joined the Big 12 back in 2012. The Bears made quick work of the Frogs in Waco back on January 13th, clubbing TCU 82-54 with a 63.3% shooting performance. But like most other Big 12 teams, TCU has been much more formidable on their home court than they have elsewhere. The Frogs are just 2-12 in league play as of this writing but they have knocked off Texas and Oklahoma State in Fort Worth so this should not be looked at as a cakewalk for Baylor. It especially becomes a dangerous game for the Bears when you consider that it falls in between high profile matchups with Kansas and Oklahoma, so Coach Drew will need to make sure his team stays focused on the task at hand and doesn’t overlook TCU. Baylor has the best road record in the Big 12 this season at 5-2 so if the Bears come ready to work, this is a great opportunity to add another W to that ledger.

Big 12 Update

Kansas has a two game lead but a Baylor win tomorrow night would make things interesting in the final days of the regular season.

Standings

CONFERENCE OVERALL
W-L GB PCT W-L PCT STRK
Kansas 11-3 -- 0.786 23-4 0.852 W7
Oklahoma 9-5 2 0.643 21-5 0.808 W1
Baylor 9-5 2 0.643 20-7 0.741 W2
West Virginia 9-5 2 0.643 20-7 0.741 L2
Iowa State 8-6 3 0.571 19-8 0.704 W1
Texas 8-6 3 0.571 17-10 0.630 L1
Texas Tech 7-7 4 0.500 17-9 0.654 W4
Kansas State 4-10 7 0.286 15-12 0.556 L1
Oklahoma State 3-11 8 0.214 12-15 0.444 L2
TCU 2-12 9 0.143 11-16 0.407 L3

Big 12 Tournament

If the tournament were to start today, here's what the field would look like:

AP Top 25

The Bears jump back into the top 20 and are ranked for the 7th consecutive week. Given how tough the Big 12 is this year, that's an impressive accomplishment.

RK TEAM RECORD PTS
1 Villanova (45) 24-3 1,604
2 Kansas (20) 23-4 1,580
3 Virginia 21-5 1,393
3 Oklahoma 21-5 1,393
5 Xavier 24-3 1,368
6 Michigan State 22-5 1,346
7 North Carolina 22-5 1,241
8 Iowa 20-6 1,144
9 Arizona 22-5 1,028
10 Maryland 23-5 976
11 Louisville 21-6 902
12 Miami (FL) 21-5 851
13 Oregon 21-6 842
14 West Virginia 20-7 772
15 Duke 20-7 674
16 Kentucky 20-7 627
17 Iowa State 19-8 616
18 Indiana 22-6 571
19 Baylor 20-7 521
20 Purdue 21-7 357
21 Texas A&M 20-7 283
22 Utah 21-7 253
23 Notre Dame 18-8 185
24 SMU 22-4 154
25 Texas 17-10 104
Others receiving votes: Dayton 80, Providence 48, California 34, Wichita St 33, Texas Tech 31, Wisconsin 27, Saint Joseph's 20, VCU 19, South Carolina 12, Hawaii 12, Saint Mary's 10, Valparaiso 3, Cincinnati 3, USC 2, San Diego State 2, UAB 1, Connecticut 1, Arkansas-Little Rock 1, Stephen F. Austin 1
Dropped from rankings: Dayton 15, Providence 23

Bracket Projections

Baylor *will* be a part of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. That's pretty much a given with the Bears' resume at this point. Now BU is playing for seeding and to get as favorable a draw as possible. I'd have Baylor as a 5 seed right now, but if we could move up to a top 4 seed, the Bears could potentially grab a spot the Oklahoma City regional, which would be fantastic for Baylor fans that are within driving distance of OKC. Here are some of the new brackets I've seen today:
ESPN: 6 seed vs Temple (Brooklyn, NY)
CBS: 4 seed vs Akron (Denver, CO)
USA Today: 5 seed vs San Diego State (Denver, CO)
Yahoo!: 5 seed