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Calling All Conferences: Bold Baylor

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Moments before his team's 81-75 victory over Baylor on Wednesday, Kansas coach Bill Self looked down the Allen Fieldhouse sideline and noticed something was missing.

An opponent.

As the No. 3 Jayhawks were going through their pregame introductions – which includes a two-minute video chronicling Kansas' rich history – Bears coach Scott Drew led his team off the court and into a nearby tunnel.

Drew said he wanted to talk to his players to keep them focused, but that the noise from the JumboTron made it difficult for the Bears to hear him.

"That was highly unusual – highly," a noticeably-peeved Self said after the game. "We would never do that."

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LaceDarius Dunn of Baylor shoots over Tyshawn Taylor of Kansas.
(Orlin Wagner/AP Photo)

Self's players weren't too pleased, either.

"We took it as disrespectful," point guard Sherron Collins said. "It fired us up even more. If we weren't ready before, we were definitely ready after that."

Self and the Jayhawks should've kept those thoughts to themselves. Instead of being hailed for a well-played win against a Top 25 opponent, they came away looking snobbish and petty.

What Drew did wasn't disrespectful. It was brilliant. Instead of apologizing – which he did after the game – Drew should take a bow.

Very few times during their 53-game winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse have the Jayhawks been tested like they were against Baylor, which trailed by only two points with 73 seconds remaining.

At that point Collins hit a 3-pointer to give Kansas a 74-69 lead and a momentum it would never relinquish.

Still, as the Bears left the court after the final horn, a few hundred Kansas fans lined the pathway to their locker room and applauded them for their effort. Baylor became the first team in 91 games to shoot 50 percent or better against the Jayhawks. The Bears made 52.1 percent of their field goals.

Unfortunately, though, all of the talk after the game focused on Drew's actions before it.

"The last thing we wanted to do was be disrespectful to anybody," Drew said. "The reason we went into the hallway for that two-minute period was to communicate and talk about how we wanted to start the game.

"I never dreamed that people might take it as disrespectful. Obviously, had I known that might be the case, we'd have never done it."


Drew shouldn't express regret over his actions. His job wasn't to make sure his players got on their knees and paid homage to the high-and-mighty Jayhawks as their names were being read over the public address system. His job was to prepare the Bears to win a game in one of the toughest environments in college basketball.

Self should understand that. He should be above worrying about what opposing coaches are doing on their bench and focus on his own huddle – especially considering other Big 12 coaches may start adapting the same tactics the next time they visit Lawrence.

It's certainly not a bad idea.

There's a reason Kansas has won 53 straight games at Allen Fieldhouse – and it's not just because the Jayhawks trot out top-flight teams. It's intimidating to look into the rafters and see the retired jerseys of guys such as Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning and Paul Pierce.

The decibel level can be deafening at times. And the pregame video includes footage of James A. Naismith, Phog Allen and Larry Brown – as well as highlights of players such as Drew Gooden and Brandon Rush and Raef LaFrentz. By the time Mario Chalmers' clutch 3-pointer from the 2008 national title game flashes across the screen, you can almost feel the arena shake and vibrate.

Drew may not admit it, but the guess here is that he didn't want to subject his players to that experience and have them get butterflies in their stomachs just seconds before taking the court.

"Kansas does a great job [with its introductions]," Drew said. "They've got a lot of tradition and a lot of things to [showcase]. We wanted to talk to our guys at that point so we could start the game out right. We came out and executed what we wanted at the beginning of the game, so I thought it worked."

Indeed it did. Not just at the beginning of the game, but throughout it, as well.

Baylor's players never seemed timid or sped up, which is something most of the other 52 straight teams that have lost at Allen Fieldhouse can't say.

So good for the Bears, who deserved the applause they received as they headed toward their locker room. Even in a loss, the game will prove to be a big step in the rebuilding of their program.

As for Drew, he deserves a pat on the back, although he'll probably have to wait until he gets back to Waco to receive one.

Now, on to this week's conference power rankings. Last week's rank in parenthesis.


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Zack Peacock sparks Georgia Tech.
(James Amis/AP Photo)

1. Georgia Tech (14-4, 3-2) – Zack Peacock came up big again – this time against Clemson. (7)

2. Duke (15-3, 3-2) – An elite team wouldn't have lost to North Carolina State. (1)

3. Clemson (15-4, 3-2) – Terrible foul by Trevor Booker in the loss to Georgia Tech. (2)

4. Wake Forest (13-4, 3-2) – Al-Farouq Aminu is averaging a double-double. (4)

5. North Carolina (12-7, 1-3) – First Tyler Zeller, now Ed Davis; injuries are slowing down the struggling Tar Heels. (3)

6. Maryland (12-5, 2-1) – Greivis Vasquez has scored 20 or more points in seven of his last nine games. (5)

7. Virginia (12-4, 3-0) – Tony Bennett for ACC Coach of the Year? (10)

8. North Carolina State (13-6, 2-3) – Tracy Smith (23 points) and Dennis Horner (20) combined to take down Duke. (10)

9. Florida State (14-4, 2-2) – The next two games are against ranked foes Duke and Georgia Tech. (9)

10. Virginia Tech (14-3, 1-2) – Saturday's game at Boston College is a must-win. (6)

11. Boston College (11-8, 2-3) – Nice comeback against Miami on Tuesday. (12)

12. Miami (15-4, 1-4) – Could Frank Haith be on the hot seat following a gut-wrenching loss? (8)


Georgia Tech – Other than a stunning loss to Virginia on Jan. 13, the last few weeks couldn't have gone much better for the Yellow Jackets, who have knocked off three of the league's top teams in Duke, North Carolina and Clemson. One of the biggest differences for Georgia Tech has been the play of guard Iman Shumpert, who is averaging 14.5 points and 5.3 assists over his last four games.


Miami – The Hurricanes blew a 17-point second-half lead in Tuesday's 79-75 loss to Boston College. The loss was the third straight for a team that appears to have been ill-prepared by a soft non-conference schedule. Miami played just two teams (Minnesota and South Carolina) from BCS conferences prior to the start of ACC play.



Duke at Clemson – Winning at Clemson is no easy task. Just ask North Carolina.

Virginia at Wake Forest – The Cavaliers are the only ACC team with a spotless league record. Virginia, though, is just 1-2 in true road games.


Georgia Tech at Florida State – The Seminoles defeated Georgia Tech earlier this season – and that one was in Atlanta. A series sweep of the No. 19 Yellow Jackets would be huge.


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Andy Rautins is piling up the points.
(Mel Evans/AP Photo)

1. Syracuse (18-1, 5-1) – Andy Rautins is averaging 18.6 points over his last three games. (1)

2. Villanova (17-1, 6-0) – The Wildcats don't play an upper echelon Big East team until Feb. 6, when they travel to Georgetown. (2)

3. West Virginia (14-3, 4-2) – Ohio State and Evan Turner visit Morgantown on Saturday. (3)

4. Georgetown (14-3, 5-2) – The Hoyas ended Pitt's 31-game home winning streak. (5)

5. Pittsburgh (15-3, 5-1) – The Panthers' next three games are against Seton Hall, St. John's and South Florida. (4)

6. Louisville (12-6, 3-2) – The Cardinals squandered a five-point lead with a minute to go in last weekend's loss to Pittsburgh. (8)

7. Cincinnati (13-6, 4-3) – Defense and rebounding are keeping the Bearcats competitive. (11)

8. Connecticut (12-6, 3-3) – Expect an inspired performance against Texas on Saturday. (6)

9. Notre Dame (14-5, 3-3) – Saturday's game against DePaul will provide a nice pick-me-up for a team that's lost two straight. (7)

10. Marquette (11-7, 2-4) – A lack of size is the Golden Eagles' Achilles heel. (9)

11. St. John's (12-6, 2-4) – No. 4 Villanova and No. 9 Pittsburgh are next. (13)

12. Seton Hall (10-6, 1-4) – The Pirates have lost five of their last six games. (10)

13. Providence (11-7, 3-3) – Jamine Peterson is averaging a double-double. (12)

14. South Florida (11-7, 1-5) – Dominique Jones is the Bulls' only real scoring threat. (14)

15. DePaul (8-10, 1-5) – Mac Koshwal is injured again, which makes a victory over Marquette that much more phenomenal. (16)

16. Rutgers (9-9, 0-6) – The Scarlet Knights may not win a league game until their Feb. 16 showdown at DePaul. (15)


Georgetown – The Hoyas' victory over Pittsburgh marked their fourth win in five games. Chris Wright scored 27 points and Greg Monroe added 11 rebounds. Georgetown's only league losses are against Marquette (by three points) and Villanova (by five).


Connecticut – It's been a while since the Huskies have had a stretch this bad. The Huskies enter Saturday's showdown against top-ranked Texas having lost three of their last four games, including a shocking setback against Michigan. Making matters worse is that head coach Jim Calhoun has taken a medical leave of absence. It will be interesting to see how Connecticut responds.



Louisville at Seton Hall – The Cardinals will be in trouble if Jeremy Hazell catches fire and if Herb Pope can slow down Samardo Samuels.


Marquette at Syracuse – The Golden Eagles came within a basket of beating Villanova and West Virginia on the road. Will their fortunes change against the Orange?


Georgetown at Syracuse – The Orange have enough big bodies to slow down Monroe.


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Draymond Green has MSU on a roll.
(Michael Conroy/AP Photo)

1. Michigan State (16-3, 6-0) – Delvon Roe has underachieved. (1)

2. Ohio State (14-5, 4-3) – More famous: Evan Turner or Mark Titus? (2)

3. Purdue (15-3, 3-3) – The Boilermakers' victory over Illinois snapped a three-game skid. (3)

4. Wisconsin (15-4, 5-2) – The Badgers are 4-1 against Top 25 teams. (4)

5. Illinois (12-7, 4-2) – Not a whole lot of high-quality wins for the Illini (6)

6. Michigan (10-8, 3-3) – Manny Harris entered Wednesday's game with Wisconsin averaging 20 points over his last five games. (8)

7. Northwestern (13-5, 2-4) – The Wildcats' road loss to Ohio State marked their 27th straight defeat in Columbus. (7)

8. Minnesota (12-6, 3-3) – The Gophers are 2-6 away from home. (5)

9. Indiana (8-9, 2-3) – The Hoosiers have a great chance of winning two straight with upcoming games against Penn State and Iowa. (10)

10. Iowa (7-12, 1-5) – Congrats to the Hawkeyes for making it out of the cellar. (11)

11. Penn State (8-9, 0-5) – Tinkering with your starting lineup at this point in the season is never a good sign. (9)


Michigan State – A tough non-conference schedule is paying off for the Spartans, who have won six straight. Road games at Minnesota and Michigan are up next, and neither will be easy. But Tom Izzo's veteran, battle-tested squad has clearly been the class of the Big Ten thus far.


Minnesota – The Gophers have lost three of their last four games, but no defeat was as crushing as Sunday's at Indiana, a team Minnesota obviously felt it should've handled. The good news is that the Gophers’ next two games are at home, where they're 10-0 this season.



Michigan State at Minnesota – The Gophers will try to hand the Spartans their first Big Ten loss.

Michigan at Purdue – Manny Harris was kicked out of last year's game for elbowing Chris Kramer in the nose.

Illinois at Northwestern – The Wildcats must win home games like this if they want to make the NCAA tournament.

BIG 12

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Sherron Collins looks like an All-American.
(Orlin Wagner/AP Photo)

1. Kansas (17-1, 3-0) – Sherron Collins is playing like a first-team All-American. (2)

2. Kansas State (16-2, 3-1) – Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly are budding stars. (3)

3. Texas (17-1, 3-1) – Don't forget, three of Texas' top six players are freshmen. (1)

4. Baylor (14-3, 2-2) – The Bears earned a lot of respect in their loss at Kansas. (6)

5. Missouri (14-4, 2-1) – The Tigers have the nation's second-longest home winning streak. (5)

6. Texas A&M (13-5, 2-2) – Bryan Davis and Donald Sloan are among the league's most underrated players. (8)

7. Oklahoma State (14-4, 2-2) – Lack of size will hurt the Cowboys against good teams. (4)

8. Texas Tech (13-5, 1-3) – Mike Singletary scored 23 points in a win over Iowa State after a terrible performance against Kansas four days earlier. (7)

9. Oklahoma (11-7, 2-2) – Willie Warren is forcing too many shots. (10)

10. Iowa State (12-6, 1-2) – The Cyclones will need all the Hilton Magic they can get against Kansas on Saturday. (9)

11. Colorado (10-8, 1-3) – The Buffaloes are the Big 12's most-improved team. (11)

12. Nebraska (12-6, 0-3) – The Huskers' next two games are on the road. (12)


Kansas State – No one can question the Wildcats' legitimacy or place in the Top 10 following Monday's victory over top-ranked Texas. Frank Martin's squad boasts one of the top defenses in the country – as well as the kind of balanced attack that Kansas State has been missing for years.


Iowa State – Poor Greg McDermott. The Cyclones coach just can't catch a break. Whether it's Wesley Johnson transferring, Mike Davis getting kicked off the team or someone getting injured, the hits just keep on coming. The latest setback occurred Tuesday, when guard Lucca Staiger announced he was leaving Ames to pursue a professional career in his native Germany.



Texas at Connecticut – The Longhorns can't let one loss become two.


Missouri at Kansas – An underrated Missouri team will try to end its archrival's 53-game home winning streak.


Kansas State at Baylor – The Bears haven't faced a defense as good as Kansas State's.


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Quincy Pondexter is a constant for Washington.
(Kevin P. Casey/AP Photo)

1. Washington (12-5, 3-3) – It's not out of the question to think that Quincy Pondexter could earn second or third-team All-American honors. (6)

2. Cal (11-6, 3-2) – Two must-win home games are coming up against Oregon and Oregon State. (1)

3. USC (11-6, 3-2) – Mike Gerrity has a combined seven points on 3-of-17 shooting in his last three games. (2)

4. Arizona State (14-5, 4-2) – Rihards Kuksiks has made 12 of his last 24 3-pointers. (5)

5. Washington State (13-5, 3-3) – The Cougars' next three games are on the road. (7)

6. Arizona (9-9, 3-3) – Wildcats fans should be satisfied with a .500 record in this year of transition. (3)

7. Oregon State (8-9, 2-3) – Someone woke up the hibernating Beavers two months too late. (10)

8. Stanford (8-9, 2-3) – Landry Fields leads the Cardinal in points (21.5) and rebounds (8.7). (8)

9. UCLA (7-10, 2-3) – The Bruins' 21-point setback against USC marked its worst home loss since 1945. (9)

10. Oregon (10-7, 2-3) – The Ducks have lost their last three games by an average of 13.3 points. (4)


Washington – In what is easily the most unpredictable conference in college basketball, the Huskies are the flavor of the week after posting two straight wins. Granted, that means absolutely nothing, because it's highly possible that Lorenzo Romar's squad could lose its next two games at UCLA and USC. Hopefully, though, Washington will build on its impressive, 15-point victory over a decent Cal squad.


Oregon – The Ducks have dropped three straight after opening Pac-10 play with two straight wins. Even worse is that Oregon's next two games are on the road. Could we be witnessing the final stretch of a somewhat successful career for Ernie Kent in Eugene?



Washington State at USC – Two of the league's better teams square off in the Galen Center. The defensive-minded Trojans must find a way to stop Klay Thompson.


Arizona at Arizona State – The visiting Wildcats have better players than the Sun Devils, but the road crowd could keep them from winning.

Washington at USC – The Trojans have held 10 of their last 11 opponents to 56 points or less.


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Is John Wall spread too thin?
(James Crsip/AP Photo)

1. Kentucky (18-0, 3-0) – John Calipari is worried that John Wall is trying to do too much. (1)

2. Tennessee (15-2, 3-0) – Excellent coaching job by Bruce Pearl the last three weeks. (3)

3. Mississippi State (15-3, 3-0) – Beating Georgia and Arkansas at home shouldn't have been that hard. (2)

4. Vanderbilt (14-3, 3-0) – The Commodores are looking like an NCAA tournament team. (4)

5. Ole Miss (14-4, 2-2) – Terrico White has fizzled a bit. (5)

6. Florida (12-5, 1-2) – Are the Gators NIT-bound once again? (6)

7. Arkansas (8-9, 1-1) – Three players had double-doubles against Alabama. (9)

8. Georgia (8-8, 0-3) – The Bulldogs have lost three straight by single digits. (8)

9. Alabama (11-7, 1-3) – The Tide scored a season-low 56 points against Tennessee on Tuesday. (7)

10. South Carolina (11-7, 2-2) – Florida and Kentucky are next for the injury-riddled Gamecocks. (10)

11. Auburn (10-9, 1-3) – The Tigers are trying to stay out of the cellar. (11)

12. LSU (9-9, 0-4) – Trent Johnson's squad has lost seven of its last eight. (12)


Arkansas – The return of Courtney Fortson has given the Razorbacks new life. Fortson is averaging 17 points over three games since becoming eligible on Jan. 5, and his presence has been infectious. Arkansas nearly upset Mississippi State on the road before losing by two. On Saturday it defeated a solid Alabama squad 71-59.


Ole Miss – The Rebels have been the SEC's biggest disappointment since conference play began two weeks ago. Andy Kennedy's squad has dropped three of its last seven games, including a home loss to Mississippi State and a setback against a shorthanded Tennessee squad. The good news is that the next two games are against LSU and Auburn, so the Rebels can pick up some wins – and some confidence.



Florida at Arkansas – The Gators have their work cut out for them in Fayetteville.


Mississippi State at Alabama – The Bulldogs have barely been squeaking by at home. The road could be a different story.

Arkansas at Kentucky – The Wildcats struggled to beat Auburn and Georgia. Arkansas is better than both of them.


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Jimmer Fredette is feeling fine.
(Denis Poroy/AP Photo)

1. BYU (19-1, 4-0) – Jimmer Fredette said he's fully recovered from his bout with mononucleosis. (1)

2. Gonzaga (14-3, 3-0) – Is Elias Harris a one-and-done? (3)

3. Temple (16-3, 4-0) – Former walk-on Ryan Brooks has joined the Owls' 1,000-point club. (2)

4. Xavier (12-6, 4-1) – Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford is averaging 19.1 points. (4)

5. Butler (14-4, 7-0) – The Bulldogs' next four games are on the road. (9)

6. New Mexico (17-3, 3-2) – Obscure stat: The Lobos have made a 3-pointer in 608 straight games. (NR)

7. Wichita State (17-3, 6-2) – Toure Murry averages a team-high 12.6 points. (NR)

8. Northern Iowa (16-2, 7-1) – There's no shame in losing at Wichita State. (6)

9. Rhode Island (15-2, 3-1) – The Rams tout wins over Oklahoma State, Boston College and Providence. (NR)

10. UNLV (15-4, 3-2) – Tough loss at Utah. (5)


Gonzaga – The Zags have won six in a row since getting annihilated by Duke on Dec. 19, and don't expect them to slow down anytime soon. They've already won what figures to be their toughest conference road game at St. Mary's. Elias Harris (15.5 points) and Matt Bouldin (15.3) lead four players averaging double figures in scoring.


Dayton – The Flyers began the season with a promising win over Georgia Tech. But since that game, Dayton has lost all four of its games against top-flight opponents (Villanova, Kansas State, New Mexico and Xavier).



Xavier at Rhode Island – The Rams would become a major factor in the Atlantic 10 race with a victory over the red-hot Musketeers.

BYU at San Diego State – A road showdown with the Aztecs is one of the tougher games remaining on the Cougars' schedule.

Memphis at Houston – Two of Conference USA's top teams battle it out in the league's top arena.

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