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Baylor makes history, might see UT again

3/8/2010



What a reversal of seasons. No. 22 Baylor was picked by Big 12 coaches to finish 10th in the conference. No. 25 Texas, once upon a time the nation's No. 1 team, was picked to finish second.

After Baylor's second beat down of Texas on Saturday, 92-77, at a sold-out Ferrell Center in Waco, it was the Bears (24-6, 11-5 Big 12) securing their first-ever Big 12 Championship bye and earning the No. 3 seed, while it was those confounding Longhorns (23-8, 9-7), losers of eight of their last 14, settling for the No. 6 seed and a first-day matchup Wednesday against No. 11 Iowa State.

"Coming in [to this season] we knew that this team was capable of a lot," Baylor coach and Coach of the Year candidate Scott Drew said prior to Saturay's game. "I know the players believed in themselves and we thought the work ethic and chemistry was good so we expected a lot this year."

The surprising Bears, who lost in the NIT championship game last season, might be the most complete team of the Big 12 South entries. They're getting spectacular guard play from sharpshooters LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter, boast excellent interior defense with Newcomer of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Ekpe Udoh and other contributors such as Quincy Acywho know their roles and perform them perfectly.

It was just a year ago that the Bears dragged a 24-game losing streak to Texas into the Big 12 tournament. Baylor finally prevailed, 76-70, and now might get the chance to make it four in a row if the Horns defeat Iowa State. Baylor will sit back and await the winner of that matchup.

The other first-round byes belong to regular-season champion Kansas, No. 2 Kansas State and No. 4 Texas A&M, which won it's 11th conference game Saturday at Oklahoma.

The Aggies, led by determined senior guard Donald Sloan and senior post Bryan Davis, will face either Missouri or Nebraska. A&M ended Missouri's home winning streak at 32 games earlier this season.

The Big 12 remains poised to send seven teams to the NCAA Tournament. The only way that changes is if one of the Nos. 8-12 seeds wins the tournament championship. In 13 prior Big 12 Championships, no team lower than the No. 3 seed has won the title.

Here's a look at the matchups:

Wednesday's first round

8 Colorado vs. 9 Texas Tech, 11:30 a.m. (Big 12 Network - KTXA/Ch. 21)

5 Missouri vs. 12 Nebraska, 2 p.m. (Ch. 21)

7 Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma, 6 p.m. (Ch. 21)

6 Texas vs. 11 Iowa State, 8:30 p.m. (Ch. 21)

Thursday's Quarterfinals

1 Kansas vs. Colorado/Texas Tech winner, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)

4 Texas A&M vs. Missouri/Nebraska winner, 2 p.m. (Ch. 21)

2 Kansas State vs. Oklahoma/Oklahoma State winner, 6 p.m. (Ch. 21)

3 Baylor vs. Texas/Iowa State winner, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Friday's semifinals

6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (Ch. 21)

Saturday's championship

5 p.m. (ESPN)