• Culture of JOY leads Baylor men’s basketball to first Big 12 title

    Head coach Scott Drew jumps on Mark Vital's back as the team celebrates

    Shout it from the rafters — Baylor men’s basketball is the 2020-21 Big 12 Conference champion!

    The Bears beat No. 6-ranked West Virginia on the road Tuesday — in overtime — 94-89 to clinch the program’s first conference title in 71 years. Some stories about the game focused on the rust head coach Scott Drew’s team is still shaking off after a three-week stoppage due to COVID-19 issues. Others looked back on the job Drew has done at Baylor since 2003, when he took a job few coaches wanted in the wake of the Dave Bliss scandal. Yet others predicted Baylor has locked up a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament.

    But the best stories? They focused on the #Joy that surrounds this Baylor team — as seen in Drew jumping on senior Mark Vital’s back after the buzzer sounded, and racing to the locker room so he could be the one to douse the players in water during the celebration.

    Joy” has been a buzzword for the team this season — an intentional part of the program’s culture. National player of the year candidate Jared Butler explained it this way: “A culture of JOY is Jesus, Others, and then Yourself, so it’s a hierarchy of the way of thinking… For me, it’s [also] the fact that I get to be here with this group of guys, and it’s joy, it’s fun.”

    “One thing a lot of people have said when they watch our team play, is that you can tell there’s genuine love for one another,” adds Drew. “You can’t fake that… The love and joy they have for each other is definitely a key to our success.”

    After such a momentous win — what’s next? For the No. 2-ranked Bears, two more home games against top-25 teams — Thursday vs. No. 17 Oklahoma State, and Sunday vs. No. 18 Texas Tech — and then the Big 12 Championship in Kansas City before Selection Sunday on March 14. In other words — lots of chances to lock down that No. 1 overall seed and prepare the best possible postseason path with an eye toward the Final Four in Indianapolis.

    Sic ’em, Baylor basketball!