Big-time BasketballFeb. 28, 2008
By Jeff Brown
Baylor's men's basketball team broke into the Associated Press Top 25 at No. 25 for two weeks in January, the program's first national ranking since February 1969--almost exactly 18 months before head coach Scott Drew was born. It was the first time in school history that both the men's and women's basketball teams had been ranked at the same time.
In their first game as a Top 25 team, the Baylor men gained national attention with a program- and conference-record five-overtime victory in College Station over 18th-ranked Texas A&M. After the game, Drew was interviewed live on ESPN's SportsCenter, part of a tremendous barrage of national media coverage that also included features in Sports Illustrated, USA Today, ESPN.com, MSNBC.com, the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Kansas City Star, Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle.
The newfound success brought out the crowds, as well. Despite rain and near-freezing temperatures, about 200 fans, mostly students, gathered at the Ferrell Center around 1:45 a.m. to welcome the team back from College Station after the Bears' win. A couple of days later, hundreds of students waited outside the Ferrell Center in similar weather to get tickets to the team's next home game. After hosting just three sellouts in the Ferrell Center's first 19 years, the Baylor men have sold out three home games this season, including a program-record 10,521 vs. Texas on Feb. 16.
Through games of February 20, the Baylor men were off to a 17-8 start, the program's best since the 1981-82 season. Those 17 wins are the most since the 2000-01 Bears, who finished 19-12 and made the NIT (Baylor's most recent postseason experience). The Bears' 5-6 mark in Big 12 Conference play had the team in sixth place in the league.