Setting up Baylor-Missouri

March, 14, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Something has to give tonight in the Baylor-Missouri Big 12 championship game.

The Bears are making their first trip to the Big 12 championship game after an improbable run of three straight victories in the last three days.

They will be attempting to make history as the first Big 12 team to emerge from the first round and win a championship. Three teams -- Missouri in 2003, Oklahoma State in 1999 and Missouri in 1997 -- unsuccessfully failed in that quest.

Fatigue played a role in all of those teams' struggles in the championship game. That trio averaged only 48 points per game in their championship outing and lost the game by a combined average of 15 points. More telling, those three teams hit a combined 29.4 percent from the field (55 for 187) and 20.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc (14 for 69). Baylor will have to do a better job than that tonight.

It would appear that it will be very tough for the Bears to hold up against Missouri's frenetic style of defense, particularly because of the fatigue of the previous three games. But Scott Drew's team has largely played zone defenses and his players have claimed they haven't been tired in any of the games. We'll see later tonight.

Missouri also will be gunning for its first Big 12 men's basketball championship title in school history. The Tigers finished second in 2003 under Quin Snyder and 1997 under Norm Stewart.

Many teams on the bubble will be rooting against the Bears tonight, something they said they relish.

"That doesn't bother us," Baylor guard Henry Dugat said. "This is about us now and trying to win our own way in. We can't worry about anybody but else."



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