A few times during the first three games of the season, a referee approached Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn near the sideline and made a peculiar request.
"Coach," the official said, "please sit down."
Dunn is Baylor's standout shooting guard, but the confusion was easy to understand. Instead of wearing a green-and-gold uniform, Dunn donned a suit and tie as he stood near the Bears' bench. A senior, Dunn was accused by Waco police of felony assault following an altercation with his longtime girlfriend in September.
Dunn's girlfriend issued a statement saying the incident was an accident and that she didn't want to pursue charges. Even though the case is expected to be dropped, Baylor coach Scott Drew suspended Dunn for the Bears' two exhibition games and first three regular-season games.
When Dunn finally took the court against Lipscomb on Monday, the Ferrell Center erupted in cheers.
"Everyone loves Lace," Drew said by phone Wednesday. "Whether it's a 2-year-old, a 10-year-old or a grown adult, Lace gets along with everyone. On Monday he even had a former professor who teaches at another school now make a long, long drive back to Baylor just to support him.
"That tells you a lot about what kind of person he is."
Drew said he wouldn't comment on Dunn's legal matters until the case has been resolved, although he noted that the university lifted its suspension of Dunn after conducting an investigation and hearing the details surrounding the night in question.
"It's a non-issue with us," Drew said.
Dunn's return is certainly a big boost for Baylor, which entered the season with legitimate Final Four hopes after advancing to the Elite Eight last season. A 3-point specialist, Dunn averaged 19.6 points as a junior last season and is on pace to become the school's all-time leading scorer.
The All-American candidate also has a chance at the Big 12 record, although that was the farthest thing from Dunn's mind Monday when he put on his uniform for the first time this season.
Dunn scored 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the Bears' 72-60 victory and was 7-of-11 from beyond the arc. Four of Dunn's 3-pointers came in the first two minutes of the second half.
"I know a lot of people still have butterflies," he told reporters after the game. "But I'm a senior now, so my butterflies should be gone. I was just anxious to get out there and have fun and do what I love to do."
Drew is hoping Dunn's presence leads to better ball security for a squad that averaged 23.7 turnovers prior to his return. Baylor managed to go 3-0 with Dunn out of the lineup, and now the No. 12 Bears are 4-0 overall with loads of momentum as they approach what promises to be a difficult December.
Dunn vows he and his teammates will be ready.
"The suit felt good," he said Monday. "But this jersey feels a whole lot better."
(Last week's rank in parenthesis.)
1. Kansas (4-0) – Five games remain on the Josh Selby countdown. (1)
2. Kansas State (4-1) – Jacob Pullen needs help in the backcourt. (2)
3. Baylor (4-0) – Fred Ellis has been a pleasant surprise. (3)
4. Texas (4-1) – The Longhorns turned some heads in New York. (5)
5. Missouri (4-0) – Ricardo Ratliffe appears to be the real deal. (4)
7. Oklahoma State (3-0) – Three-point specialist Keaton Page is shooting just 25 percent from beyond the arc. (7)
8. Colorado (2-2) – Alec Burks and Cory Higgins are averaging a combined 41.8 points. (8)
9. Texas Tech (4-1) – D'Walyn Roberts has missed four straight games with a back injury. (9)
10. Iowa State (5-0) – The Cyclones are the league's biggest surprise thus far. (12)
12. Oklahoma (3-3) – Maui was anything but paradise for the Sooners. (11)
Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse – Tuesday's 82-41 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was the school-record 63rd straight for the Jayhawks in their home gym. The previous mark of 62 was set by Jacque Vaughn, Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz and Co. from 1994-98. The last time Kansas lost in Lawrence was in February of 2007, when Billy Gillispie's Texas A&M squad beat the Jayhawks in the final minute. Bill Self is 117-6 in seven-plus seasons at Allen Fieldhouse.
Fred Hoiberg – The former Iowa State star couldn't be doing a better job during his first season as the coach of his alma mater. The Cyclones are off to a fast start despite losing 10 players from last year's squad. Iowa State's biggest win to date was a 91-88 victory over Creighton on Sunday. The Bluejays are coached by Greg McDermott, who was Hoiberg's predecessor in Ames.
Nebraska’s depth – The Cornhuskers have 11 players averaging 10 minutes or more per game. Forward Christian Standhardinger leads Nebraska in scoring with an 11-point average despite playing just 17 minutes a contest.
Nathan Walkup, Texas A&M – The Aggies senior forward is off to a great start. The 6-foot-7 Houston native enters this weekend's Old Spice Classic averaging team-highs in points (14.7) and rebounds (6.0). Walkup scored just 5.1 points per game as a junior last season.
Oklahoma – The Sooners' 68-64 loss to Division II Chaminade in Maui on Wednesday was one of the worst setbacks by a Division I school so far this season. Oklahoma shot just 28 percent from 3-point range and was outscored 38-26 in the paint by the undersized Silverswords. Less than two years removed from an Elite Eight appearance, the Sooners are officially the worst team in the Big 12.
Kansas State at the free-throw line – The Wildcats are shooting just 50.8 percent (62-of-122) from the line this season. Included in that tally is an 11-of-23 performance in Tuesday's 82-68 setback against No. 1 Duke.
Missouri – The Tigers haven't exactly lived up to their No. 11 national ranking. Although Mike Anderson's squad posted a 10-point win over Wyoming on Tuesday, Missouri allowed the Cowboys to whittle a 15-deficit all the way down to two late in the second half. The Tigers also struggled in their season-opener against Western Illinois and couldn't close out a win against North Florida until the final eight minutes.
Mike Singletary, Texas Tech – There was a time when the Texas Tech forward was one of the most-promising players in the league, but that's hardly the case these days. Singletary is averaging just 9.3 points In the Red Raiders' past three games. Texas Tech won't have any shot at the postseason if Singletary, a senior, doesn't step up.
Texas' victory over Sam Houston State on Tuesday marked the 500th career win for Longhorns coach Rick Barnes … Baylor forward J'Mison Morgan played just five minutes against Lipscomb on Monday after being undercut early in the first half. Bears coach Scott Drew said Morgan should be fine … Kansas' four victories have come by an average of 36.8 points … Oklahoma's Cade Davis had 24 points in Wednesday's loss to Chaminade, but he air-balled a 3-pointer In the closing seconds that would've tied the game … Missouri opened the season in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time since 2003 … Even though they have problems defensively, Texas Tech ranks among the country's top 30 teams in assists per game (18.4, which ranks 22nd), points per game (84.2, 25th) and field-goal percentage (49.8, 26th) … Nebraska had halftime leads against Davidson and Vanderbilt in last week's Puerto Rico Tipoff but ended up losing both games … Oklahoma State plays DePaul in the first round of the 76 Classic on Thursday in Anaheim. Other teams in the field include Virginia Tech, UNLV and Stanford.
THREE TO WATCH
Texas Tech vs. St. Mary's, Friday – The Red Raiders can't afford one of the slow starts that have defined their season thus far. The Gaels are a poised, well-coached team that reached the Sweet 16 last season. Believe it or not, a victory over St. Mary's in Corpus Christi would rank as one of the best wins of Pat Knight's career.
Kansas vs. Arizona, Saturday – This will be the first real test of the season for the Jayhawks, whose depth and experience will likely be too much for a talented but young Wildcats squad. In Las Vegas the Marcus Morris-Derrick Williams matchup should be interesting.
Georgetown vs. Missouri, Tuesday – The Tigers' strength is its guards, but that's also the case at Georgetown, where Austin Freeman, Jason Clark and Chris Wright form one of the nation's top backcourts. This should be a great game in Kansas City.