Baylor Wins 1st of the Season

What might have been? That's a question Baylor fans are asking themselves after tonight's 72-70 overtime victory over Kansas State. What might have been had the NCAA not punished players and coaches that had nothing to do with the prior problems under the former basketball coach at Baylor? What might have been had the Bears had a chance to work out the kinks against non-Big XII opponents?

This clearly isn't the same Baylor team that started the season with 5 straight double digit losses. The extremely young Baylor squad is starting to figure out its identity, much like most teams do by the 6th and 7th games, and tonight it resulted in a much needed W.

After putting up 18 second half points at Texas A&M on Saturday in a 2 point loss, Henry Dugat put on a show tonight in the Ferrell Center. The athletic freshman put on a shooting clinic scoring 23 points including 17 in the first half. Dugat is gaining confidence with each game and showing why he was recruited by major programs like the University of Texas. Dugat was joined in the backcourt by another freshman and good friend, Curtis Jerrells, who put up 15 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds. The two sat together after the loss to A&M and remarked how they could do this – they could compete in the Big XII.

Sophomore guard Aaron Bruce has been hobbled with a stress reaction in his foot for most of the season. This week, the Australian native didn't help matters when he rolled his ankle in practice. Baylor's trainer commented Bruce was probably only at 50% strength going into the game; nonetheless, he gave it his all as he always does finishing in double digits. Bruce fouled out with 7:10 to go in regulation, which might have been a blessing in disguise. This young Bear team seemed to want to win the game for the injured Bruce and upped their intensity even more.

Bruce wasn't the only injured player – sparkplug Patrick Fields, who was the leading scorer in the Texas game, injured his wrist and had to sit the night out. Coach Scott Drew opted to only play 7 players on the night – and the shortened lineup seemed to promote chemistry as the game wore on.

The Bears got some help on the inside with solid performances from Tommy Swanson, Tim Bush, Mamadou Diene and Kevin Rogers. Mamadou crashed the offensive glass with 4 offensive rebounds and Kevin Rogers extreme athleticism helped him to pull down 9 boards on the night. After missing a point blank layup in traffic with a few minutes to go, Rogers redeemed himself with a steal and breakaway jam followed by a tip in on the next possession. Kansas State had the ball on the final possession of regulation with 13 seconds to go and the scored tied, but couldn't convert a jumper from the top of the key.

Tim Bush started off overtime with a 3 pointer to give the Bears a cushion. A few minutes later, after Jerrells hit a layup in traffic and drew a foul, Baylor looked to be in good shape.

However, Kansas State came back quickly taking a 70-69 lead with less than a minute to go. At the time, Baylor was playing 4 freshman and one junior and couldn't have looked more poised. After calmly working the ball around the perimeter, Jerrells found a soft spot and busted a 3 on Kansas State – it was easily the biggest shot of his college career thus far.

Kansas State had two looks at it on their last possession but ultimately came up short – sending the Baylor student section and more specifically the "Bear Pit" into a frenzy. They rushed the floor to celebrate Baylor's first victory of the year – jumping around with the 7 foot "Mayor" Mamadou Diene. It was a site Baylor fans, players and coaches had been waiting for, for a long time – and a site which they all hope becomes a regularity under Coach Drew.

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