Saturday, December 14, 2013

Huge night of basketball for Baylor!

Last weekend was a huge night for Baylor football, with the closing of the Case and Baylor's first Big 12 conference championship.  But lost behind that glory was one of the biggest nights of basketball Baylor has ever had.

Many of these seats did eventually fill . . .
As part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, the Baylor men's and women's teams played the men and women of the University of Kentucky at AT&T stadium on the night of December 6.  As D/FW locals know, that was in the middle of one of the iciest weekends this region has ever seen.  Many reasonable people living in D/FW stayed home, and many reasonable fans from Waco stayed home rather than drive into this mess.  Well, I never claimed to be reasonable, so Elliot and I, along with a thin crowd of other unreasonable people, saw two terrific games.

There weren't too many people there when we arrived, just before the women tipped off.  We weren't surprised by that, but we were surprised how few Baylor fans were there.  I would estimate that of the 10,000 or so fans, some 75% of them were wearing Kentucky blue.  Not only do their fans always travel well, I figure if they drove or flew hundreds of miles to see their teams play, a little ice wouldn't keep them trapped in a hotel room.

Configured for football games, AT&T can seat 80 or 90 thousand fans, so the crowd, which would have nicely filled the Ferrell Center, seemed even smaller.  Adding to that, the opposite seats weren't used, making it seem even emptier.
 I love watching Kim Mulkey coach her teams.  She brings so much passion, and shows so much love for her girls, that there is no question why she is one of the most successful coaches coaching today.  We particularly enjoyed seeing her get in the ref's face when her daughter Mackenzie ended up on the floor and no foul was called!
 Here the refs are consulting about something at the end of regulation.  The second half ended in a tie, so they played on, in not 1, not 2, not 3, but FOUR overtime periods!!  If Baylor's 3 point shot hadn't rimmed out at the end of the fourth overtime, we would have gone into #5!  As it was, it ended up being the highest-scoring women's basketball game in NCAA history.  Alas, the #9 Lady Bears came up short to #5 Kentucky, 133-130.
 As much fun as the women's game was, watching the men's and women's games back to back was an opportunity to see what a contrast the two games are.  Men's basketball is a whole different game than women's.  Both Baylor and Kentucky were both dunking, alley-ooping, and driving, in a very physical, powerful game.  These guys are good!  
Thankfully, for Baylor fans, the Bears were better on this night!  The Bears led throughout most of the first half, by as much as 11 early on.  Kentucky snatched the lead back with a 3 pointer at the end of the first, then led in the second half until a Kenny Chery-led run got the Bears back on top with 5 minutes left.  Kentucky kept it close the rest of the game, but Baylor never gave up the lead again and won 67-62.  After the game, they gathered for a mid-court prayer.  I'm sure that among other things they were praying for safe travel back to Waco on the icy roads!
It's too early in the season to tell if Baylor has what it takes to play at this stadium again.  I would love to see them her in the Final Four!  But this was a big step for Baylor.  This #3 Kentucky team is the highest-ranked team Baylor has ever beaten! 
It was fun running into Everett!  Even it it did make me feel old, seeing my Baylor friends' son now attending Baylor. . . .

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