Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Baylor, Kansas Try to Set Tone Early

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Baylor, Kansas Try to Set Tone Early

Article excerpt

For the all the stressing over this year's 18-game gantlet of a Big 12 basketball schedule, the thing could be over before anybody breaks a sweat.

If Baylor conquers Kansas on Monday, the Bears will have survived the second of what's shaping up to be its three most difficult tests of the season: battles at Kansas State, Kansas and Missouri. Go 2-0 in that triumvirate, and the race for the Jayhawks, Tigers, Wildcats and others could become a lot of hoping that undefeated and fourth- ranked Baylor, off to a school-record 16-0 start, is simply a mirage and will vanish upon closer inspection.

But with every game, Baylor seems more real, and Tuesday's victory in Manhattan was a major statement. The Wildcats' physical brand gets amplified in Bramlage Coliseum. Missouri went home bruised last Saturday, just as Kansas did the last time it played there. Baylor took the punishment and delivered its own.

The Bears have been pieced together ideally, with long, lean athletes led by Perry Jones III stretching across the back line of their zone defense, and the additions of guard Pierre Jackson to operate the offense and Brady Heslip as the distance specialist.

In previous seasons under coach Scott Drew, the Bears have had parts of both groups. This is the most complete package, seasoned with veterans in role positions.

The Bears already had overcome one of college basketball's best home-court advantages, winning at Brigham Young. They made clutch plays to escape West Virginia and emerged from a street fight with Mississippi State.

But standing up to the Wildcats in the purple haze stands as the greatest accomplishment, one that can be topped on Monday.

And if Baylor wants to dream a little, Missouri visits Waco Saturday.

The Bears could put everybody in catch-up mode when the league race reaches six games, the one-third juncture.

And if you saw national prominence as the end game when Drew was hired as the head coach, consult a financial advisor immediately, and provide advice. …

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