Upsets, buzzer beaters, topsy-turvy standings.
Has this been the nuttiest Big-12 season ever?
“It is the best Big-12 season that I’ve been (a part of),” 11th-year Baylor head basketball coach Scott Drew said on The Damon Amendolara Show. “We’ve had a lot of great players (over the years). Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Michael Beasley – I mean, you (can) name a lot of players that are not only in the NBA, but are the best in the NBA, and this is (far) and away the most parity (we’ve had) in our league.
“Each and every night, it’s a grind, and it seems like every night comes down to one or two possessions. If you talk to other coaches, it’s frustrating too because you know your record would be a lot better if you were in a different league because the competition is so tough – but that’s what competitors want to do. They want to compete against the best and our players had the chance to do that this year.”
Baylor (20-10, 8-9) started the year 12-1 but lost eight of its first 10 conference games. After getting blown out by then-No. 21 Oklahoma on Feb. 8., the Bears were 14-9 – but they did not give up on their season.
“At the end of the day, we know we’re in a position where we’re playing in the No. 1 ranked conference in the country and each game we have a chance to get quality wins against quality opponents,” Drew said. “We knew our record wasn’t going to allow us to get in the tournament unless we started winning games.”
They have. The Bears have won six of their last seven games, including a double-overtime win against Kansas State, an overtime win against Oklahoma State and, most recently, a 74-61 win over No. 16 Iowa State on Tuesday.
Baylor, like many teams, has endured various injuries throughout the season. Asked what he attributes this recent hot streak to, Drew laughed and said, “Better coaching.”
“I think we all know as coaches that we’re only as good as our players,” Drew said. “I know it’s frustrating for fans because one night (their) team looks great and the next night they look terrible. But really, it’s because the margin of error is so thin.”
Baylor has eight players averaging at least 15 minutes per game, while its top scorers include Cory Jefferson (13.3), Brady Heslip (11.6), Kenny Chery (11.1) and Isaiah Austin (10.7).
Baylor closes the regular season at Kansas State on Saturday before heading to the Big 12 Tournament, which begins March 12 in Kansas City.
“I’m just hoping we’re (able to) make a good run and finish up strong because we need to do that,” Drew said. “I think we’ve tried to control what we can control – and that is each and every day get better as a team and make sure individually we’re as good as we can be and try to win each possession and not look too far ahead. We need to keep this hot string going because, as you know, you need to be peaking this time of year.”