Bear's Big 12 Championship Hopes End

With an early 10 point lead, the Bears could not hold on and win their 1st Big 12 championship.

There is a reason why it has never happened. A reason why no team has won 4 games in 4 days and emerged as the Big 12 champion. While the Bears would never use that as an excuse, you could sense a late game running coming, courtesy of the tired legs of the Bears. Baylor led for most of the game, until Iowa State hit a 3-pointer to go up 53-50 with just over six and half minutes to go in the second half.

Baylor would regain the laid, courtesy of a Brady Heslip three pointer with exactly four minutes remaining, but the fresher Cyclones would finish the game on a 18-7 and emerge as champions of the Big 12. It was a game of runs for both teams, with Baylor jumping out to a quick ten point lead, courtesy of a 0-13 shooting start from the Cyclones. However, from that point on, Iowa State would make 24 of their next 35 shots, and finish at 50% from the field on the day.

Baylor was paced by Kenny Chery, would led them with 16 points, but had to take 12 shots to get there. Brady Heslip made four of six 3-pointers to spark the Bears, but an off night from senior post Cory Jefferson left the Bears without some tough inside points.

The biggest area you could tell fatigue might be an issues was on the glass, as Baylor was out-rebounded by 10, and finished with just 9 offensive rebounds on the night. Gone were the quick put-backs and soaring dunks of Austin and Jefferson, instead replaced with tip-ins that were just not falling for most of the night.

The other area where you could sense tiredness was on the defensive end of the court. For the first 10 minutes of the game, the Bears were flying all over, disrupting and challenging not only every shot, but every dribble, pass, screen or general movement of a Cyclones player. Once that disappeared, the Cyclones started to make shots, led by 17 from their star point guard DeAndre Kane.

The Cyclones biggest contributor might have been their 6th man off of the bench, Naz Long. With Heslip raining down 3s to start the game, Coach Fred Hoiberg inserted Long to shadow the sharp-shooting Canadian. Long came in just before the 16 minute mark of the 1st half, and Heslip would only make 1 more three-pointer in the half, and that was off of a fast break where he stopped and just nailed a 3-pointer.

Long also matched Heslip's long-range shooting, with both players making 4 of 6 three pointers, with both hitting them from all over the court, and from well behind the 3-point line. In the end, the Cyclones survived a tough shooting start, wore down the Bears with a balanced attack (5 players in double figures scoring) and secured a Big 12 tournament title for the second time in school history.

With the loss, the Bears will now await their next destination in the NCAA tournament. Forgotten for most of 2014, the Bears recent run of wins has catapulted from back onto the bubble and then well off it, this time on the safe side. While a loss in the Big 12 championship game hurts, it will not end their season, one in which they hope to end up at a more Texas friendly location at the end of their journey.

Bears Illustrated Top Stories