Baylor Fired Up by Remark

Tuesday, February 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WACO, Texas (AP) — The last time Baylor had beaten a ranked team, it came against a No. 25 squad and took two overtimes. It had been so long since the Bears had beaten a Top 10 team that the last victim was Arkansas, back when the schools were Southwest Conference rivals.

So maybe it wasn't so ridiculous that Kenny Gregory, star of No. 6 Kansas, said before his team played the Bears that he considered losing to Baylor something that just doesn't happen to the Jayhawks.

It did Monday night.

Fired up by Gregory's offhand remark, Baylor pounced on a Kansas squad that was taking the Bears lightly and went on to win 85-77.

``He pretty much dissed us, said we're not capable of beating them,'' Baylor guard DeMarcus Minor said. ``When they'd close to four or five, his statement would pop into your head.

``We didn't panic. But they have to panic because they just got beat by Baylor.''

Jayhawks coach Roy Williams actually began panicking long before tipoff because he sensed his team wasn't ready.

``I didn't like the feel they gave me,'' he said.

Baylor (16-6, 5-6 Big 12) ambushed Kansas (19-4, 8-3) from the start, taking a 10-0 lead. It had reached 25 by halftime, marking the largest deficit Kansas has faced after one half in the 13 years Williams has coached there.

``I don't know that I've ever been part of a more complete breakdown,'' he said.

The Jayhawks made several charges in the second half, but the Bears never gave in. They remained calm even after their 27-point lead was whittled to four.

Baylor coach Dave Bliss called time-out and asked the players how they would have felt if before tipoff he offered them the chance to be up by four with only a few minutes left. The obvious answer refocused and re-energized them as they grew the lead back to 10.

Baylor had never beaten Kansas in six previous tries. The Bears' last victory over a Top 10 team was in 1990 against the Razorbacks.

The Jayhawks lost on a Monday night for the third straight week. The previous losses were to Big 12 leader Iowa State and perennially strong Missouri.

In rationalizing those losses, Gregory said, ``It's not like we lost to (Texas A&M) and Baylor,'' teams Kansas had been 12-0 against all-time.

The star of this show was Terry Black, who scored 20 points while making 8-of-10 shots, most of them dunks and nearly all of those worthy of highlight films.

``It wasn't like we beat Duke or North Carolina. It was only Kansas,'' black said in a sarcastic retort to Gregory.

In less than two seasons, Bliss has Baylor headed in the right direction.

The Bears are assured of their first winning season since 1996-97. If they can get on a late-season roll, they can start thinking about their first postseason berth since the NIT in 1990 or even their first NCAA trip since 1988.

For now, Bliss and Baylor can celebrate one sweet victory.

``This isn't going to change the face of mankind, but it gives our players a lift,'' Bliss said. ``This vindicates our hard work.''

Fans felt their loyalty was vindicated, too. The largest crowd in four years at the Ferrell Center was treated to yellow T-shirts on their way in and before they left many of them celebrated the victory on the court.

``College basketball is meant to be fun. Baylor has gone through some periods where it hasn't been some fun,'' Bliss said. ``A lot of people enjoyed it tonight. Hopefully they enjoyed it enough that they'll keep those yellow shirts and wear them again.''