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The Baylor Bears are your 2013 NIT Champions!

The Isaiah Austin Show put up a tent tonight in Madison Square Garden, demonstrating to the ESPN-watching world what a 7'1" shooter can do when he rebounds aggressively, blocks shots, and enforces his will on a B1G team too small to stop him.


It's hard to say that one player made all that much of a difference when you win by 20, but it'd be even harder to say Isaiah Austin didn't tonight. Look at this line: 15 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 5 blocks.

That is a Grown Man performance. If Isaiah Austin played his final game for Baylor tonight, it was his finest, as well. And I'm including that OU game where he had 19 and 20 in that. He was a defensive force, an offensive savant, a player that impacted the game every time up and every time down. He was everything everyone thought he could be the entire time. I'm not even going to mention (more than once) that he could come back next season, pair with Cory Jefferson, and form the best twin tower combo this side of Middle-Earth.

Of course, the entire team was that good tonight; everybody was playing that well. Cory Jefferson had 23 and 7, scoring 11 Baylor points in a row late in the second half and raining thunderous, Sportscenter-like dunks down on Iowan heads. Pierre Jackson was Pierre Jackson, floating for a bit and letting others play their games before turning it on and finishing with 17, 10, and 5. Oh, and along the way he set a new Baylor single-season record for points, breaking that of LaceDarius Dunn. Fellow senior A.J. Walton, carried off the floor after getting fouled hard on a hustle play up 20, got into the action, too, with 5 points, 5 assists, and 6 steals. The game ended with L.J. Rose, Deuce Bello, and senior Jacob Neubert doing their things because the game was in-hand and we had nothing to lose.

Nobody goes into the season hoping to win an NIT Championship. Nobody. But winning it is certainly better than losing it, and after the time came that Baylor knew the NIT was our place, they never looked back. I see a lot of people saying now that this Baylor team would have won games in the NCAA Tournament. That's probably true, but this Baylor team didn't exist until these specific events happened. Forged in the fire of unmet expectations, the NIT woke them up. And when all they could do was win the whole thing, they did it.

Very few teams end their season saying they won their last game in a tournament: only 3, as nearly as I can figure. And now Baylor is one of them. Congratulations, guys, you deserve it.