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Monday, March 29, 2010

Baylor comes up short

Bears exit tourney in bittersweet fashion

Members of the Baylor basketball team wave to fans as they walk off the court following the South Regional final. The Bears fell to Duke, 78-71, on Sunday in Houston.

Members of the Baylor basketball team wave to fans as they walk off the court following the South Regional final. The Bears fell to Duke, 78-71, on Sunday in Houston.

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Duke vs. Baylor

Box Score

Maybe Baylor finally can escape its past, even if the Bears couldn’t cap their breakthrough season with a perfect ending.

Baylor’s long road to recovery stalled one victory shy of the Final Four on Sunday, when the Bears lost, 78-71, to Duke in the South Regional final. It was a disappointing, emotional end to a great NCAA Tournament run for a program shattered by murder and scandal seven years ago.

“Can’t put into words what they’ve done for the school, what they’ve done for the team, what they’ve done for the program,” said coach Scott Drew, who took over the ravaged program in August 2003. “Coaches coach a lifetime and might not have a team like that.”

Baylor (28-8) led, 61-60, after Ekpe Udoh’s floater in the lane with 3:53 left. Duke’s Lance Thomas grabbed an offensive rebound and passed to Nolan Smith for a three-pointer after that, and the Blue Devils never trailed again.

The Bears won’t be at next week’s Final Four, but what a journey they took to get so close.

The program was in shambles after the summer of 2003, when a player was killed by a teammate and former coach Dave Bliss was caught in a web of lies and illegal payments.

Drew took on the challenge of rebuilding Baylor and used Duke as the model for what he wanted the program to be, from the victories to the clean-cut image.

The Bears are obviously getting there, but they’re still not the Blue Devils, who’ll make their 11th Final Four appearance under Mike Krzyzewski.

LaceDarius Dunn scored 22 points, Udoh added 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, and Carter added 12 points and four assists for the Bears, picked to finish near the bottom of the Big 12 last fall by the league’s coaches.

Carter couldn’t hold back tears on the podium after the game, breaking down as Udoh was answering a reporter’s question.

“It all started in the summer,” Udoh said. “Nobody thought we had something special coming together. You know, we all just came together and we loved each other.”

Carter and center Josh Lomers are the only seniors in this group, so the Bears certainly won’t be underestimated next season.

“It’s not over for this program,” Carter said. “You hate for it to end, as far as you not playing this year. We worked to make it to the Final Four and win the national championship, but it didn’t go that way.”

Comments

minnhawk84 9 years, 6 months ago

Let's go Baylor, Let's go Baylor! Great season guys, sorry you couldn't get past Dook. Way to represent the Big XII in the tourney.

BeakofLight 9 years, 6 months ago

its hard enough to beat duke on a level playing field

its virtually impossible to beat duke + the officials + the ncaa

baylor nearly pulled it off

as great as kryzewski is, one can only wonder how a level playing field would affect his gaudy numbers

must be great to only have to play one quality team to earn a final 4 birth

86finalfour 9 years, 6 months ago

I can't believe Duke pulled that one out. I thought Baylor didn't hold its poise down the stretch. I was very disappointed that the Big 12 couldn't get at least one team in the F4.

Danny Hernandez 9 years, 6 months ago

Well, the fifth foul against Lomars by the uncalled charge against Singler sure hurt....Really, can't believe they called that a blocking foul when Lomars never moved, his hands straight up and singler barreling into him trying to draw the 5th foul...That's all that move was for....no possible shot

Darsves 9 years, 6 months ago

I didn't really see bad calls made only for the benefit to help Duke. I saw bad calls on both teams and that usually happens in all basketball games. While Baylor may be the more athletic team of the two, Duke just outperformed them down the stretch and out-coached them. It's as simple as that. While Duke may not have been all that impressive at the beginning of the season, they have improved a lot, particularly with their inside game, and the game against Baylor showed that one of their big three (Singler) doesn't have to make a basket in order for them to beat a very good team such as Baylor. What a terrible looking final four though. I have to say I'm more excited for the Duke/West Virginia game than I am for Michigan St. And Butler or even for the national championship probably. I'm so sick of Michigan St. getting to the Final Four at least once every four years (now two in a row), so I definitely hope Butler beats them and it will be like homecourt for them. Since I can't move up really in my bracket standings anyways (had Duke/WVU, but had WVU losing to KU) with the teams that made it, I'm pulling more for a Butler/Duke championship. I'm just so sick of hearing about Big East dominance.

hawk316 9 years, 6 months ago

The Baylor loss hurt. It hurt because it was the last Big XII team with a chance to reach the Final Four. It hurt because Duke now goes to the Final Four. It hurts my brackets because I had Baylor in the Final Four (facing WV). It hurt because it put an abrupt end to what would have been a wonderful Cinderella story. Oh well, I guess it's time to root for Butler...

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