By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
Given No. 17 Baylor men’s basketball’s success over the last few years, it has now built some big expectations to live up to. After back-to-back Big 12 championships and a national title in 2021, many fans of the program have high hopes.
Despite some big wins early in the season, the Bears (15-5, 5-3 Big 12) started off conference play 0-3, resulting in some raised eyebrows along with questions being asked. However, since this mark, Baylor has won five-straight, including a big win over No. 9 University of Kansas. With momentum on its side, some fans believe their team is back on track to madness.
Gibbsboro, N.J., senior Michael Carrington said he expected the team to respond well to its poor performances that opened conference play. But with three of the next five games being on the road, Carrington didn’t expect five-straight wins. He said he believes the team has proven its in the running to not only win the conference, but do some damage in March.
“Beating Kansas signified that this wasn’t just a bounce back streak,” Carrington said. “We are now confidently back in the Big 12 race and in my eyes, there is no better conference for preparing a team for March Madness.”
Memphis, Tenn., senior Timi Tope-Ojo said when the losing streak commenced, he wasn’t convinced the team had what it took for a deep push. However, with the team’s resurgence, he is more confident in the green and gold.
“To be honest, I was telling my friends the season was over. I was very disappointed after the start because I talked up the team so much,” Tope-Ojo said. “I am optimistic that we can bring this season back around if we learn from our mistakes. They are a very talented team so I think they can make a very deep push.”
The next opponent standing in the way for the Bears is the University of Arkansas, a historically good program that is 14-6 overall and is looking for its first road win of the season.
“I think the Bears ride the hype and pull out this win. I’m more worried and hoping we can win the Texas game [on Monday],” Tope-Ojo said. “Arkansas has done a lot better than I expected this season but I think the Bears take the ‘W.’”
Carrington said he has a good feel for how Saturday’s game is going to go.
“Arkansas is probably the most inconsistent team in college basketball, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t play with everyone in the country. However, I think the starting 5 gets us out to an early lead and kills their confidence early,” Carrington said.