Viewers get to see Baylor-Texas A&M five-overtime game at last

Updated: March 4, 2008, 8:21 PM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- The first Baylor-Texas A&M meeting was the best game of the season that nobody saw on TV.

Baylor outlasted Texas A&M on Jan. 23, winning 116-110 in five overtimes behind a career-high 36 points from Curtis Jerrells. But if you weren't there, you didn't see it, thanks to an unlikely set of circumstances that left the game with no television coverage.

The rematch Wednesday night will be on national TV, and finally, so will the original. ESPN Classic has pieced together a complete game telecast using footage from Texas A&M's in-arena cameras that the school uses to show games on its Jumbotron. The network then matched the game footage with play-by-play and commentary from the Aggies' radio broadcasters.

The original game will air on ESPN Classic at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the rematch at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon might want to change the channel, but Baylor coach Scott Drew said he is encouraging everyone he knows "to Tivo it or record it and check it out."

"The best part for Baylor fans is they don't have to chew their nails because they know how it ends," Drew said.

The teams set or tied six conference records, including points by a team and combined points. Other records set included Baylor's 70 rebounds, 97 field-goal attempts, 39 made free throws and Jerrells' 20 made free throws.

Perhaps the only thing more unusual than a game with five overtimes was a Big 12 game with no television coverage.

Under the Big 12 television deal, the big national networks get first crack at games. After that, the conference's syndicate package gets to choose which games to air regionally on ESPN. If the syndicate passes on televising a game, local channels, in this case Fox Sports Southwest, get to televise the game.

For the first game, everyone passed. It could have aired locally had both schools agreed to move the game from Wednesday night to Tuesday night. But that was held up because Reed Arena was booked with, of all things, an engineering job fair.

Odder still, both teams were ranked at the time. Baylor (20-8, 8-6 Big 12) was No. 25 and the Aggies (21-8, 7-7) were 18th. The schools have been playing since 1914, and it was the first time both were ranked, Drew said.

"I'm disappointed for our fans that didn't get a chance to see it," Drew said. "And I'm disappointed for the Big 12 conference from the standpoint that we would have gotten a lot more national attention."

ESPN Classic has pieced together telecasts of old games before, "but never on a modern-day game," said Brian Kweder, senior director of programming and acquisitions for the network. A production team used footage from a center-court camera and cameras under each basket to create what Kweder said looks "almost like a typically college basketball game."

Drew said he is pleased that what he calls "the game of the year" will get to a national audience.

"A lot of people were talking about it," Drew said. "I think after it is televised, the buzz really will hit."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press