1. What is the cost of an opportunity lost? It is almost impossible to answer, but the Baylor Bears missed a big one this weekend. By no means was this an easy opportunity, with the #1 team in the nation visiting Waco. Baylor had won 14-straight home games, and 5-straight Big 12 games. They had rebounded well from their conference opening loss on the road to Kansas. They were in 1st place in the Big 12, and had a chance to extend that lead against possibly the favorite at this point.
With a strong push to open the second half, the Bears tied the game at 41. It was a brand new game,the first tie of the game, and one where the Bears had momentum. Then the Sooners continued their 3-point assault hitting three in the next 66 seconds. Two by national player of the year candidate Buddy Hield and one from Isaiah Cousins. In the blink of an eye, the tie was gone and the Bears were in a bigger hole than when they started. The 9-0 spurt was the start of a 41-17 push by the Sooners over a 12-minute stretch.
2. With the lead at 24-points, the game was all but over. The Bears and Sooners just had to play out the string at that point. The ending made the score look nicer, a 14-0 run to close the last 5-minutes of action for the Bears. With a final score of 82-72, the Bears would lose by 10-points, but the defeat was much more emphatic than that. Some have complained about the title of my postgame article, "Bears Blown Out by Sooners". I can understand that. A 10-point loss is not a blow out. It just isn't. However, this was one of the most lopsided 10-point losses you will ever see.
A 41-17 run defined this game. Everything outside of that was window-dressing. When the Sooners wanted to hit the Bears, they did. Oklahoma made 17 of 26 shots in the second half, including 16-28 from 3-point rante in the game. That is just insane offense, with some bad defense thrown into help. This was a beating, and on the Bears home court. I stand by the title, and yes, it was an emotional one.
3. This loss will not define the Bears. They have proven themselves to be a Top-25 caliber team, and one worthy of NCAA tournament consideration. This is a good team in a lot of ways, with some dangerous flaws. When the opposition has great shooters to go along with an offensive system that passes the ball well, we see things like we saw Saturday. Oklahoma torched the Bears zone defense. They then torched the Bears man defense late in that big run. No defense the Bears put out there was doing anythign (outside of the zone for a lovely 3-4 minute stretch in the first half).
When the Bears get ppor play from their point guard, they will lose to most good teams. Lester Medford had an awful game, racking up 6 turnovers and shooting 2-6 from the floor. Not good enough, especially for a player that has shown to be one of the best in the college game at taking care of the ball.
The biggest loss the Bears had was one of perception. With the entire East Coast snowed in, and a weird 11am tipoff, most eyes were on this contest. What they saw was a confirmation to many baises and old thoughts on the Bears. It was a "same old Baylor" or "Baylor gonna Baylor" moment that made us shake our head. THAT was not Baylor basketball, but it was what some in the media continue to believe is true about Coach Drew. It is a shame that the opportunity was lost for the Bears. You don't get many chances to fully change the perception of your team.
4. With signing day right around the corner, the Bears have 20 verbal commitments, with 11 on the defensive side of the ball and 9 on offense. BearsIllustrated.com is the place to go for the latest news on recruiting. We have setup a 2016 Baylor Recruiting Headquarters page to bookmark for this class. This will have the latest commitment list, any breaking news, and of course the top prospects to keep an eye on. Our Recruiting Analyst Kevin Barrera will also be taking a look at all 20-commitments over the next 10-days and giving thoughts and scouting reports on all future Bears. Here is a sample of the first article (FOR MEMBERS ONLY), with analysis on JuCo's Branton Autry and Jeremy Faulk.
Autry is an offensive guard that comes to Baylor from Coffeyville (KS) CC. Autry is ranked the #40 overall JUCO prospect in the country, and is widely considered one of the top JUCO guard prospects in the country.
Autry is a 6'4, 320 lb prospect, who should come in and fill the shoes left by Blake Muir and Jarrell Broxton. Autry is a mauler whose strength lies in his run blocking and and overal strength. Autry is an athletic guard, but will need to work on getting off the ball at the snap. Being able to participate in spring drills should help him as he looks to take over the RG spot held by Muir.
Keep checking back for more of these updates on commitments, as well as the latest news of visitors (how did the #1 kicker in the 2016 class enjoy his visit to Baylor, or who do the Bears expect this coming weekend?).
5. The Bears are holding steady at 15th right now in the SCOUT team rankings, but have been past by Big 12 rival TCU. The Frogs picked up key commitments in athlete Camron Williams and running back Darius Anderson to pass the Bears and go into 14th place. Baylor is right behind them though, and with several key prospects still on the board, they have to be considered the favorite to finish with the top-ranked class in the Big 12. Ranking the Big 12 Recruiting Classes: