Don’t hop off that Baylor bandwagon just yet

1 Comment

OK, now what to make of Baylor?

Are the Bears (17-2) a team that was unworthy of its Top 5 ranking? Or merely a team that came up short against two of the Big 12’s best teams, including one game on the road?

Let’s call it a little bit of both.

Many of Baylor’s known issues surfaced during Saturday’s 89-88 loss to No. 5 Missouri. Future NBA lottery pick Perry Jones III was largely ineffective (eight points in 29 minutes), guard Pierre Jackson was both brilliant (20 points, 15 assists) and maddening (six turnovers) and the occasionally soft perimeter defense had issues against the Tigers’ four-guard lineup.

Adding to the Bears’ issues was that Tigers forward Ricardo Ratliffe killing it inside, scoring a career-high 27 points and grabbing eight rebounds. He’s the lone Missouri post presence and he was more than enough. It wasn’t that Ratliffe was tearing up the Baylor defense, though. He was a delighted benefactor of numerous times when Missouri guards drove the lane, then found him for an easy score.

Sounds like reason to jump off the Baylor bandwagon, right? Maybe not. (If anything, jump on the Mizzou bandwagon.)

Perhaps the Bears’ ranking was always a little inflated because of its 17-0 start – which included plenty of solid road- and neutral-court wins, unlike most of the other Top 10 teams – but there’s no denying they played two of the nation’s best squads this week.

Kansas crushed Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse. That’s not an uncommon occurrence for any visitor to Lawrence. And Missouri (18-1) pulled off a win in Waco, but played superbly to do it. The Tigers boatsed a ridiculous eFG% of 61 percent, were demons in the passing lanes and on the ball (11 steals) and were clutch down the stretch, hitting 10 of 12 free throws in the final minute.

Losing at home always stinks. But losing at home to a Top 5 team that is clicking deserves a little context. (That Baylor defense isn’t escaping critique, but it’s obvious Missouri had as much to do with Baylor’s issues as the defense did.)

Baylor’s still got Top 10 talent and might even be a Top 10 team. At worst, it’s Top 15. And that means it’s a team capable of making a run in March. Nothing wrong with that.

Related stories:

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC