By Chris Derrett
After a nightmare-ish bus ride home following a 73-66 loss to Oklahoma, the Bears are glad to be back in Waco. Unfortunately, there’s no time to enjoy home sweet home.
Scott Drew takes Baylor to College Station for a 1 p.m. matchup with Texas A&M Saturday, hardly a reward for a team that faced a whirlwind schedule earlier this week.
The Bears rolled into Waco Thursday at 12:10 a.m., more than seven hours after they departed Norman, Okla.
“When you’ve got McDonalds and places like that closed, you know it’s still pretty bad,” Drew said about the wintry conditions on the road.
Thursday was supposed to be an off day, but because the game against the Sooners was moved from Tuesday to Wednesday, Drew’s team used Thursday to practice.
Much of Thursday’s agenda addressed the problems that turned a 50-43 lead at the 15:57 mark into a 24-3 Sooner run that buried the Bears. Oklahoma also held Baylor scoreless for 6:41 to seize a 53-50 lead.
The run included eight Baylor turnovers that added to a second half total of 14, a stark contrast from the Bears’ two in the first half.
“In that whole segment where we didn’t score, I don’t think we got the ball to the paint,” sophomore A.J. Walton said. “We weren’t making the extra pass, doing the things that we were doing to get the lead.”
The Bears were down as much as 14 but did pull to within 69-66 with 31 seconds remaining. But on a missed Oklahoma free throw, the Sooners snagged the rebound and sealed the game.
“To be able to come back 14 points down and give yourself a chance shows a lot of grit and a lot of heart,” Drew said.
Senior LaceDarius Dunn was the only player absent from the court during Thursday’s practice. Dunn drew a charging foul on Cade Davis with 8:21 left in the first half, but in the process Dunn suffered what team trainer David Chandler called a hip contusion. Dunn finished with 15 points and is expected to play Saturday.
Texas A&M enters Saturday after a 69-49 loss to Texas on Monday and a 57-48 loss at Nebraska Saturday.
If the Bears want a victory, they must stop several key players. Leading the Aggies in conference scoring is forward Khris Middleton at 14.1 points a game, and forwards Nathan Walkup and David Lombeau notch an average of 9.3 and 8.9 points respectively.
Point guard B.J. Holmes also tallies 9.4 points on average and boasts a 1.9 assist to turnover ration against conference opponents.
Saturday’s game could be one of the Bears’ toughest road tests of the year, as Texas A&M’s official athletics website reports a near sellout for the game. The Aggies have also won 30 of their last 32 game in Reed Arena.
“It’s going to be crazy. Fans are going to be loud and hyped. We’ve got to, like at Oklahoma, communicate with each other. We’ve got to be our own fans,” freshman Perry Jones III said.