Baylor scored a huge victory, winning 76-74 over No. 16 Texas A&M in overtime on Saturday afternoon.
Coming into the game, the Bears were only in the bubble conversation because, you know, they’re Baylor. They were supposed to be a contender in the Big XII. They were supposed to be good enough to be a potential Final Four team. You can’t write off a team like that simply because they lost a couple of games.
Which is exactly why this game was so important. The Bears didn’t have a big win coming in. Now they can ride back to Waco knowing that they have a win in the same arena that Washington and Missouri took a loss. Coming off of their own loss to Oklahoma earlier this week, there was a contingent of hoops scribes that were prepped to forget about the Bears.
Baylor’s work is far from done, however.
For starters, there is no guarantee that beating the Aggies on the road will be a marquee win come March. Texas A&M has now loss three in a row and four of five, including two embarrassing losses to Texas. They have done nothing of note on the road. This is a team that struggles to score the ball. They are a solid rebounding team and can defend, but when they aren’t rebounding or defending — as has been the case of late — they are going to struggle to win games.
A&M has come back to earth after their terrific start. If they continue to fall, Baylor will need another win on their resume. They certainly have the talent to do it. Perry Jones played like a top five pick this afternoon, going for 27 points and seven boards. LaceDarius Dunn is as dangerous as any scorer in the country. And there are few teams in the country that can put the size and athleticism on the floor to match Baylor.
The Bears biggest strength, when they are playing well, is their ability to get to the offensive glass. That strength is what eventually won this game. Perry Jones grabbed an offensive board and followed with an and-one layup with a minute left to give Baylor a 74-73 lead. After the Aggies tied the game up at the other end, Anthony Jones had a put back of his own with 3.1 seconds left that would end up being the game-winner.
Baylor will have their chances to make another statement. They still have to play Texas twice, travel to Missouri, and play a rematch against the Aggies at home. Even if the Aggies turn their season around, it would behoove the Bears to win at least one of those games.
But even if they don’t, at least Baylor can now say that they have beaten a ranked team on the road.
Not a bad way to start their late push for the tournament.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.