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BYU, Baylor Fans Display Sportsmanship
December 23, 2011
Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 25 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

Last weekend in Provo, Utah and Waco, fans of both schools displayed class regarding the visitors.

Baylor's men's team played at BYU last Saturday. The Marriott Center in Provo, Utha, seats over 22,000 fans is regarded as one of the toughest places to win in college basketball. The Bears, though, found that it wasn't a hostile environment.

A group of BYU students had a banner they displayed before the game that read: "Congratulations Baylor University & Robert Griffin III, 2011 Heisman Winner."

"I want to give respect to the fan base here," Baylor sophomore forward Perry Jones III said. "That's one of the hardest places to play. They didn't use foul language. They stayed humbled. I respect them for that and for not cussing us out like other places."

The following night, Baylor's top-ranked women's team played host to No. 2 Connecticut, the sport's perennial power. The Ferrell Center was sold out two weeks prior to the game and the atmosphere was electric.

When the Huskies coaching staff, led by Geno Auriemma, walked onto the floor, Baylor fans responded with a standing ovation. (Last season, Baylor fans gave a similar welcome to Tennessee coach Pat Summitt).

"People say the people down south are a lot nicer, and it showed," said Auriemma, whose second-ranked Huskies lost to No. 1 Baylor, 66-61. "I've got to tell you, it really took me by surprise. I don't know if they do that to everybody whose butt they think they're going to kick. But it's a great environment to play basketball in."

Auriemma joked that the reaction from the Baylor crowd was similar to the receptions he receives for Big East Conference road games. Informed of that comment, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey chuckled at the joke.

"Nah, I don't think they cheer him and give him ovations in the Big East," she said.

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