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Baylor Basketball Experiences The Good Kind of Bliss

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Baylor 72, Kansas State 70 (overtime)

After one of the most disgusting scandals to hit modern sports left Baylor basketball a barren wasteland, the team suited up against Kansas State and used 5 extra minutes to embarrass the Wildcats:

Curtis Jerrells ended Baylor’s losing streak with a clutch basket in the final seconds of overtime Wednesday night to give the Bears a 72-70 overtime win over Kansas State.

Jerrells, a freshman who had been around for only the last six of the 20 losses, took a kickback pass from Tim Bush, nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing with 22 seconds remaining to end the winless string that dated to Jan. 19, 2005, when the Bears defeated Colorado 67-59.

The team hadn’t won in over a year. Now that is a losing streak, people.

For those who missed Dave Bliss’ tenure at BU, the former basketball head coach resigned after one of his players murdered a teammate. Carlton Dotson pleaded guilty last year of the murder of Patrick Dennehy in 2003.

Coach Bliss was paying for Dennehy’s tuition — a major NCAA violation — and to keep his transgressions secret he told his players to cover up his own wrongdoings by creating a story that Dennehy paid for his tuition by selling drugs.

“Don’t portray an innocently murdered kid as a drug dealer” doesn’t appear in the Bible. It’s just understood.

After uncovering a few more violations at Baylor and at his previous stints at Southern Methodist University and the U. of New Mexico, Coach Bliss resigned. Baylor athletic director Tom Stanton followed suit. Players were allowed to transfer to other schools immediately (usually you have to sit out a year). The Baylor basketball program was thoroughly scrubbed clean.

Only two players decided to stay and one of those — Tommy Swanson — is still on the team.

Though the school put several penalties on itself, the NCAA added a few more, including the curious decision to ban Baylor from non-conference play this season.

The transformed Baylor basketball team — the archetype of a rebuilding program — didn’t play their first game until Jan. 11, a loss to Texas Tech.

The “no non-conference schedule” penalty seemed a little unusual harsh (“OK, I know none of you had anything to do with the scandal, but you can only play Big 12 opponents. Good luck winning 3 games!”) but Baylor can technically make a miraculous run in the conference tournament and make the NCAA tournament, since they’re not banned from postseason festivities. I guess it would have been like MLB saying the Rockies can’t play in the World Series.

So hats off to Baylor on their first win of the season. Neater still, they did it against a team with a winning record who also — going into the game against Baylor — had a .500 record in the Big XII. Here’s to a couple more wins this year.

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  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    This post was cross-posted to the BC Sports Weblog at Cleveland.com.