Baylor men’s basketball overcomes injury after injury to win second straight Big 12 title
Since Baylor men’s basketball won the national championship last spring, graduation and injuries have hit the Bears hard:
- Four title-team starters graduated (three went to the NBA, one to the NFL).
- A national top-30 signee lost the entire season to an ACL tear in October.
- The team’s leading scorer has played only 15 minutes in the last six weeks due to a foot injury, and might not play again this season.
- The team’s leading rebounder (and Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year) suffered a gruesome knee injury almost a month ago that ended his season early.
- Three other All-Big 12 players — James Akinjo, Adam Flagler and Jeremy Sochan — have also missed significant time due to injury.
“You look at the beginning of the year, and we said that with everything we lost, what’s impossible with man is possible with God,” said head coach Scott Drew, now the back-to-back Big 12 Coach of the Year. “That’s been our theme. And with all the injuries and things we’ve had to overcome this year… You’ve got to really credit our guys for remaining calm and executing and really down the stretch being very efficient and helping pull out a win.”
The Baylor team that now rolls into March Madness is very different from the squad that won the national title a year ago. Only three active players (Flagler, Flo Thamba and Matthew Mayer) saw significant time in the national championship game. But the Bears are making it work — and they know the season isn’t over yet.
Next up for Drew’s Bears: The Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, where the Bears will face Oklahoma Thursday at 6 p.m. One day later, Nicki Collen’s Baylor women’s team — who also got another Big 12 trophy for the mantel — will start their Big 12 tournament run, battling either Texas Tech or Oklahoma State at 1:30 p.m. Then it’s on to the NCAA tournament, starting the following week.
Sic ’em, Baylor basketball!