Monday, February 17, 2014

Another OT thriller in Waco!

Since Elliot and I had propelled Baylor to four wins in the four games we have attended, we felt compelled to head back to Waco tonight to see if we could help them get a fifth.  We felt confident, since they had beaten Oklahoma State in Stillwater, and tonight OSU was playing without their top scorer, the suspended Marcus not-so-Smart.  Even though it was an 8:00 tipoff, and even though I have to be at work at 7 tomorrow, and even though Elliot is 14 and needs his sleep, we decided the Bears needed us in Waco.
Bruiser gets some extra help cheering with these student bears.
So we ate a quick dinner and hit the road.  We didn't have tickets, and figured we'd just pick some up when we got there.  While we were on our way, Mark texted that his friend Bart had offered him some extras.  We were certainly pleased to hear that Mark had once again wrangled some free tickets for us, but when we got to our seats, we were even more pleased that we were on the second row, directly across from the Baylor bench!  Wow, thanks Bart!  I could get spoiled watching games from that vantage point!
We got to sit with Mark and Regina.  I hope we didn't embarrass them too much.
Baylor started out looking pretty good.  They were hitting 3 pointers, and jumped out to a 12-6 lead.  But OSU went on a run, took the lead, and kept it most of the rest of the game.  Baylor was down by 5 at the half, then trailed by as much as 10 early in the second half.  But they chipped away at OSU's lead, tying the games a few times and trading leads in the final minutes.
I'm always surprised at how many coaches they have.  I think it's about a 1:1 coach-player ratio.
When OSU missed a 3 pointer and knocked the ball out of bounds with 2 seconds left, it looked like Baylor had the game in the bag. All they had to do was inbound the ball, and hold on to it to run out the clock.  But, no, Baylor can't keep things simple, can they?  They botched the inbound pass, and some OSU joker who never makes 3 pointers grabbed it and made a 3 at the buzzer.  Overtime, for the second time in two games.
This was taken by Baylor photographer Matthew Minard, who was sitting a few feet to my left.
I couldn't get a good action pic with my iPhone.
Thankfully, Baylor scored first in OT and lead the whole time, winning by 6.  Now they are on a 3 game winning streak, and have 5 games left in Big 12 play, plus the Big 12 tournament.  Win out, and they would have a winning record in the Big 12.  I'm not giving up on the Bears' chances to play in the NCAA tournament.  I just hope they can find a way to win the next on the road without Elliot and me.
It was fun visiting with the always amiable Judge Starr.
If I heard him correctly, he may have encouraged Elliot to take a sick day from school tomorrow. . . . Surely not . . . .

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Two Baylor Basketball Games in a Week

This year, Baylor basketball fans have seen some highs and lows.  The Bears finished the non-conference season 12-1, their only loss coming against Syracuse, who is still undefeated and currently ranked #1 in the country.  Baylor climbed up the rankings to #7 before getting hit with the reality of Big 12 basketball, losing 8 of their first 10 Big 12 games.  Only TCU, who still has not won a Big 12 game,  is behind the Bears in the conference standings.

But Elliot and I still believe this is a great team with some great players!  I can't explain their losing streak, but we want to see it turn around.  We hadn't been to any games in Waco this season, but had seen the Bears win their season opener at the American Airlines Center in November (post), and braved the ice storm to see them upset Kentucky at AT&T Stadium in December (post).

Since the Bears were playing close to home once again, this time at TCU, we decided to see if we could see another win.  They did not disappoint.  Brady Heslip had a hot hand, shooting 8 of Baylor's season-high 16 3 pointers.  They dominated this game, start to finish.  It was not a big surprise, as TCU is just not very good this year.  It was great to see Baylor win, and nice to see that the home crowd was outnumbered by the Baylor faithful in attendance.
I know Elliot looks bored, but that's just his "I don't like my picture taken" face.
Now that the Bears were 3-0 in games Elliot and I have attended, we felt obligated to cheer them on in Waco Saturday night.  Thanks to Mark's Facebook post, we got some tickets from one of my favorite professors, Dr. Beaty, and his wife.  They couldn't make the game and let us use their tickets.  It was great visiting with him.  He still seems to remember me, even though it's been 25 years or so since I took a class with him!
Kansas State came into the game in 3rd in the Big 12, and earlier week defeated a powerful Kansas team.  For most of this game, it looked like KSU was going to take a victory home to Manhattan.  Baylor finished the first half with 21 points, having shot only 26%.  Heslip's hot hand from Wednesday night had cooled off; he couldn't hit a 3 pointer to save his life.

Isaiah Austin getting one of his 9 blocks
for the night.
 Things improved in the second half, and Baylor got within 1 a couple of times, but they never could get over the hump.  Finally, with the clock winding down, and Baylor within 3, Isaiah Austin somehow got the ball to Helsip and he nailed his first 3 pointer of the night, just before the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

Baylor and KSU traded leads through the first overtime, and, thanks to KSU missing a free throw at the end of the period, they were still tied.  However, in the second OT, Baylor dominated, and ended up winning by 14!

So now Baylor is 4-0 in the games Elliot and I have attended.  So my next task is convincing Kelly that it's OK to take Elliot to Monday's game, with an 8:00 start time, on a school night.  Baylor needs us to be there!
You gotta love a team that gathers for prayer at the end of every game.