The Big 12 tournament championship will come down to two teams who both spent a good chunk of the season in the Top Ten of the rankings. Unfortunately for many fans in the Kansas City area one of those teams happens to be the Baylor Bears and not the Kansas Jayhawks. The other high ranked squad who will be facing Baylor in the finals is the Missouri Tigers who easily dispatched the Texas Longhorns in the nightcap by a score of 81-67.
In a mild upset in the first semi-final game at the Sprint Center the Bears withstood a typical KU second half run to earn a trip to the finals. The final score of 81-72 would make some think that Baylor won in a fairly comfortable fashion but that is anything but true. Unlike a typical Bill Self led team the Jayhawks came out somewhat lackadaisical in the first half on both offense and defense which allowed Baylor to build an eight point lead at the half. In the second half the Bears immediately jumped out to a 13 point lead and it looked like Baylor might cruise to an easy victory.
At that point the Jayhawks immediately went on a run to not only pull to even but at one point in the second half KU pulled ahead by two points. The final nine minutes of the game though were dominated by Baylor and specifically Brady Heslip who nailed three clutch three pointers to make sure Baylor advanced to the finals.
While the top seeded Jayhawks did not hold up their end of the bargain the Missouri Tigers definitely did. The Tigers were led by a barrage of three pointers from Kim English and Phil Pressey who each scored 23 points while going 8-11 combined from behind the arc.
The main topic following the game for the Tigers is the possible availability or lack thereof of senior Kim English for the final against Baylor. In the second half he sustained a quad injury which took him out of the game for a short time even though he returned later. By the end of the game he was sitting on the bench with ice on his leg as the outcome of the game was already determined.
So now the Missouri Tigers and their fans are one game away from winning the Big 12 tournament before they depart for the SEC. The last chance for fans of the Big 12 conference comes down to a Baylor squad which looks like they finally be reaching their potential at exactly the right time.
With the win tonight combined with a KU loss, the Missouri Tigers might possibly have moved themselves into a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. While the atmosphere inside the Sprint Center on Saturday may not be as crazy with Baylor reaching the finals instead of Kansas, everyone should expect a heckuva game between two schools who look like they both could make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament.