Good luck finding any team in the country that notches a better pair of road wins in the same week than Baylor, which followed up a victory at Texas Tech by invading Allen Fieldhouse and thumping Kansas on its home floor.
As a result? The Bears leapfrogged the Jayhawks and Duke into the second spot in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll on Monday. They finished with 1,567 points in voting by 65 media members who regularly cover the game, just seven back of top-ranked Gonzaga — even though Baylor had 31 first-place votes and the Bulldogs had 30.
“I think to have a special team you first need to have that work ethic, you need to have that character, but most of all you have to have guys that buy into roles and celebrate each other’s success,” Bears coach Scott Drew explained. “As the year has gone on we’ve done better and better at that. We call it ‘playing with joy.’ If you do that, good things happen.”
Great things, as a matter of fact. Baylor (13-1, 3-0 Big 12) hasn’t lost since playing Washington in Alaska in its second game of the season. Along the way, the boys from Waco, Texas, have notched nonconference wins over ranked teams Villanova, Arizona and Butler along with league wins over the Red Raiders, the Jayhawks and Texas.
The win over Kansas was the first for Baylor in 18 tries at Allen Fieldhouse and the first over a top-five team on the road.
“We came with the expectation to win, the expectation to do great things in the Big 12,” Baylor guard Jerad Butler said, “and it shows when you expect to win versus just trying to survive.”
The Blue Devils fell to third in the AP poll, followed by unbeaten Auburn and Butler. The Jayhawks were next with another unbeaten, San Diego State, staying at No. 7. Oregon, Florida State and Kentucky rounded out the top 10.
The Wildcats climbed four spots by squeezing out tougher-than-expected wins over Georgia and Alabama.
“I’m telling you, I believe in every one of these kids. I wouldn’t have recruited them here. But I’ll tell you, it’s really hard here,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “Every game we play is someone’s Super Bowl.”
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Source:: The Denver Post – Sports