By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
For those of you keeping track – and the folks in Waco are particularly keen on the record keeping - the football, women's basketball and men's basketball teams at Baylor University have combined to win their last 30 games.
For the men's team, reaching that number required another dramatic finish. No. 7 Baylor edged No. 14 Mississippi State, 54-52, Wednesday night in Game Two of the Showcase at American Airlines Center.
The Bears are 13-0, the best start in school history and the 13-game winning streak equals the best in school history. It's been that kind of run for those wearing the Green and Gold.
"Anytime you are a part of history it means a lot," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "I think for what the upperclassmen have done with leading this team from day one, they are a group that deserves this credit and deserves this honor. I am very proud of them to have the opportunity to do that and very pleased.
"If you start out 13-0 in college basketball with the parity today, that is going to get you in a lot of record books."
There are no four undefeated teams in men's basketball and two of them play in the Big 12. The other three teams with perfect records are Missouri, Syracuse and Murray State.
It was an accomplishment to beat the Bulldogs (12-2). While Baylor's roster is stocked with long and athletic players, Mississippi State was a mirror image. That equality meant that most shots were contested and any attempt to attack the basket required comprehensive medical insurance.
"Their big men are tough and physical," said Baylor freshman Quincy Miller, who had 12 points and six rebounds. "It was a very tough game."
Baylor finished with a 40-32 rebounding edge and outscored the Bulldogs 11-3 at the foul line. Otherwise the box score was balanced. Each team was 5-of-17 on 3-pointers. Baylor attempted 55 shots, Mississippi State 54.
The last shot was the game winner. Point guard Pierre Jackson used a screen by Quincy Acy to set up the Bulldogs' Dee Bost. From the right wing, Jackson blew past Bost and there was no help defense. His layup with 28 seconds remaining gave the Bears the lead.
Two minutes prior to that, Jackson had missed the front end of a one-and-one and then missed a layup after a steal. In victories over BYU and West Virginia, Baylor made the winning plays.
"Everybody's confident," said Baylor's Brady Heslip, who finished with 11 points. "We're not rattled in the final minute. We believe we're gonna come through."
After Jackson gave Baylor the lead, the Bears needed one final defensive stop.
"We said that we wanted to be aggressive rather than passive," Drew said. We didn't want to allow Mississippi State to dictate. We were aggressive in that last play and really did not allow them to settle into anything."
Baylor's A.J. Walton was scoreless in 19 minutes of action but on Mississippi State's final possession he locked up senior point guard Dee Bost. Freshman Rodney Hood wound up driving into the lane for the final shot but it was blocked by Acy. Jackson slapped the loose ball to the far end of the court and the horn sounded.
"We shot 21.4 percent in the second half and we beat a top 15 team," Drew said. "Both teams treated it like an NCAA Tournament game.
"The toughness we showed, the leadership from the upper classmen – without that you don't win the close games," said Drew, whose team's next game will be the Big 12 opener against Texas A&M on Monday in Waco.
Memo to Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and the Baylor team that faces Washington in Thursday night's Alamo Bowl: You're up.