Commentary

Bears blame themselves for Colorado's history-making win

Originally Published: March 13, 2008
By Tim Griffin | ESPN.com

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Curtis Jerrells says he's not worried, that he fully expects to celebrate with his Baylor teammates Sunday evening when the NCAA tournament pairings are announced.

Baylor coach Scott Drew isn't quite as confident, considering his team's struggles in Colorado's 91-84 history-making, double-overtime victory over the Bears in the Big 12 tournament on Thursday.

The Buffaloes' upset enabled them to become the first No. 12 seed in the Big 12's 12-season history to win at the tournament.

"We're in a position where all season we haven't had a bad loss," Drew said. "But in a conference tournament, a 5-seed shouldn't lose to a 12. Hopefully, the NCAA selection committee will look at the body of work for us this season and not just one game."

[+] EnlargeColorado Celebrate
AP Photo/Reed HoffmannColorado became the first 12-seed to win a Big 12 game when the Buffs upset Baylor in double overtime.

That's the quandary that will cause the Bears to toss and turn until Sunday evening. Their 21-10 record includes an RPI in the low 30s and more accomplishments this season than any in recent memory. The Bears appeared reasonably sure of their first NCAA tournament berth since 1988, considering the overall strength of the Big 12.

But that was before Thursday afternoon. And now they won't be absolutely certain until the brackets are announced.

"Even though we lost tonight, we still feel pretty confident," Jerrells said. "But it's out of our hands now. We just have to wait."

The Bears were blaming themselves after Colorado ran an offensive clinic in the first half, spurting to an early 14-point lead by shooting 72 percent from the field in the first half.

Senior standouts Richard Roby (game-high totals of 32 points and 12 rebounds) and Marcus Hall (25 points and 10 assists) helped the Buffaloes singe a Baylor defense that seemed flat-footed from the opening tip.

"They came out with a lot of intensity and just caught us," Baylor guard Tweety Carter said. "It was our own fault."

Baylor played like a team that expected to win just by showing up. Some of that might have been understandable, considering the Buffaloes limped into the game with 14 losses in their past 17 games.

Included in the Buffaloes' late skid were a two-point loss at Texas, a one-point loss at Oklahoma State and a six-point loss at Kansas State. Colorado players were telling anybody who would listen this past week that they were very confident coming to the tournament.

"We thought we matched up with them," Roby said. "We watched the film. We saw what we needed to do better, and we never felt like a 12-seed. We had a lot of tough losses throughout the year, a lot of close losses. So we knew we were better than our seed was."

And even after enduring a drought of more than nine minutes without a field goal in the second half, Colorado erupted in the second overtime to make the Bears look like the tournament patsy they traditionally have been.

Those on-court struggles were only part of the mess that Drew inherited when he took over the program in 2004.

The Baylor program had been staggered after the sordid death of former Baylor player Patrick Dennehy, who was found shot to death in a field not far from the campus. Teammate Carlton Dotson confessed to the crime. And an NCAA investigation turned up rules violations that ranged from coaches' payment of players' tuition to their concealment of failed drug tests.

Drew has done a nice job restoring the Baylor program. In light of the past few years, just having a Selection Sunday party ranks as among his biggest accomplishments.

"It's been great seeing our players work so hard and watching the fan support build," Drew said. "It's great watching that excitement -- a little like opening a Christmas present. And sometimes it's more exciting watching them open the gift than anything else. There's so much anticipation."

The Bears will find out Sunday evening if a shiny tournament appearance or a lump of coal awaits them in that package.

Tim Griffin covers college football and basketball for ESPN.com. He can be reached at espntimgriff@yahoo.com.

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