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Out of options, Baylor will have to pull off big surprise in Big 12 tournament to go dancing

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(USA Today Sports Images)

While the Baylor women are the toast of their side of college basketball, the Baylor men appear to have faded from any chance of an NCAA tournament appearance unless they win the Big 12 Conference tournament next week.

The latest setback came Monday when the Bears lost 79-70 to a mediocre Texas team knowing they needed a win to keep any slim at-large hopes they had alive.

[Also: Brittney Griner adds to legacy with 50 points, big dunk]

The Bears (17-12, 8-8) have lost eight of their past 11 games, never a formula for winning over the selection committee. The only three wins in that stretch have come against a struggling Texas Tech program and sweeping the season series with West Virginia. Maybe the worst loss in the group came Saturday when Baylor was tied with Kansas State with 1 second remaining and the ball but threw the ball out of bounds without using any time. Kansas State senrior Rodney McGruder nailed the game-winner when the Wildcats' best hope was overtime only moments earlier.

It doesn't appear the Bears have quit on coach Scott Drew. Most of the losses have been competitive games. Four were decided by five or fewer points and one went to overtime. But none of that changes the fact that Baylor isn't getting it done in the stretch drive of a season that seemed to have the potential to be special back in the fall.

Baylor began the season ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press poll and picked second in the Big 12 coaches' poll. After reaching the Elite Eight in two of the previous three seasons and having some quality pieces of the puzzle returning, there was reason to believe Baylor could contend again in the Big 12 and maybe make another push in March. But it lost a couple of head-scratchers early to Charleston and Northwestern.

[Forde Minutes: March begins with every team fighting for something]

Those losses foreshadowed problems ahead.

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