Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

March 20, 2013

NIT: Baylor faces Long Beach State in opener

WACO, Texas — When Baylor guard Gary Franklin first saw the NIT bracket, the California native got excited. He initially thought the Bears' matchup against Long Beach State meant a chance to go play only about a half-hour from home.

The 49ers (19-13), whose roster includes two of Franklin's teammates from a high school championship team, will instead be in Texas on Wednesday night for a first-round game.

"The only disappointing thing for Gary is he wanted the game back home,'' Bears coach Scott Drew said with a smile, adding that they were able to get an early scouting report from him.

Baylor (18-14) is back in the NIT four years after making it to Madison Square Garden, then losing to Penn State in the championship game.

The Bears, who since their NIT runner-up finish in 2009 have made it to two NCAA regional finals, had bigger aspirations this season than a No. 2 seed in the NIT.

"You want to be in the Big Dance. At the same time, it's something you can't control as of right now,'' said senior guard Pierre Jackson, the Big 12's top scorer (19.8 points per game). "At least we're still playing, still got a chance to play for a championship.''

Which is more than Kentucky can say. The Wildcats, the No. 1 seed on the Baylor side of the NIT bracket, were upset 59-57 by Robert Morris in their opener Tuesday night.

Within minutes after that game ended, Jackson tweeted one word: "Wow...''

After a school-record 30 wins last season, which ended with a loss to eventual national champ Kentucky in a regional final, the Bears had three players taken in the NBA draft last summer, including underclassmen Quincy Miller and Perry Jones III.

Still, with Jackson and 7-foot-1 standout freshman center Isaiah Austin, Baylor was 19th in the preseason AP Top 25 this season.

"I wish we were 19 right now,'' Drew said, when asked how he viewed this season. "I think one thing is you never really view things until things are over. You look at a couple of years ago when we went to the championship game of the NIT and how things finished out there. That year ended well, and hopefully we can do the same here.''

Long Beach State, which has lost four of its last six games, is playing in the postseason for the third consecutive season.

Along with former prep teammates Keala King and Tyler Lamb, Franklin also knows a lot of the other Long Beach State players since he plays a lot of pickup games there when at home.

The loss by the Wildcats eliminated the possibility of a rematch with Baylor. It also means that the Bears could play three consecutive games at home, if they keep winning, before the final two rounds in New York.

Baylor won 64-55 in December at Rupp Arena, its first-ever non-conference road win against a Top 25 team. That also ended the Wildcats' nation's-best 55-game home winning streak and was their first home loss under fourth-year coach John Calipari.

Baylor last played at home in the regular-season finale, an 81-58 victory over Big 12 champion Kansas, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

But the Bears lost five of six games before that. They were then the No. 3 seed at the Big 12 tournament, but they fell behind by 20 points in their opener against Oklahoma State and a valiant comeback attempt came up short when Jackson's potential game-winning 3-pointer bounced off the rim as time ran out.

As high school seniors, Franklin and 49ers junior guards King and Lamb led Mater Dei to a California Interscholastic Federation title. All three went to different Pac-12 schools, and have all since transferred.

Lamb joined the 49ers two months ago from UCLA, and is still sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules. King started playing for Long Beach State in December after 1 1/2 seasons at Arizona State.

Franklin started 11 of California's first 13 games as a freshman before transferring to Baylor, where he was able to start playing midway through last season.

"Keala and I, and Tyler and I, had been friends since like fifth grade, so being able to play with each other in high school made things even more fun,'' Franklin said. "There were things off the court that you can't replace. ... But obviously winning a CIF title there with them, it was a lot of fun.''

Now they are opposite sides trying to take the first step toward an NIT championship.

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0111web.jpg ‘Team behind the Team’

    For the second-straight year, the Claremore Zebra student training staff will be represented in the Oklahoma Coaches All-State games held in Tulsa.
    Meranda Golbek and Sarah Szcinski, a pair of 2014 Claremore High School graduates, earned All-State honors for their athletic training careers and will join two other student trainers from Jenks and Stillwater High School on the East squad.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • MLB: Rangers struggle in 9-3 loss to A's

    A rough month didn't get any better for Texas on Sunday night, even though the game-time temperature of 100 degrees would have seemed to be in the Rangers' favor against Oakland.

    However, they trailed 5-0 in the second inning en route to a 9-3 loss to the Athletics. Texas has lost 15 of its last 18 and dropped to 4-19 in July.

    July 28, 2014

  • Lost Red Sox title ring returned by Yankees fan

    A lost Red Sox World Series ring is back on the finger of its owner, thanks to a nifty pickup by an ardent New York Yankees fan.

    Manhattan restaurant owner Luigi Militello could hardly believe it when he found the shiny 2013 championship ring on a restroom sink at his Luke's Bar and Grill on Thursday night.

    July 28, 2014

  • MLB: First-place Dodgers complete sweep of Giants

    Manager Don Mattingly hardly considers a late-July sweep in San Francisco a turning point to put his Dodgers in the driver's seat atop the NL West.

    Yet coming off consecutive series losses at St. Louis and Pittsburgh, Los Angeles needed some sort of spark as August approaches. The Dodgers found it in the ballpark of their biggest rival, and left the Bay Area in first place following an emphatic three-game swing.

    Carl Crawford hit an RBI triple to back Hyun-Jin Ryu's third straight victory, and division-leading Los Angeles beat the Giants 4-3 Sunday night to establish some momentum behind their pitching and offense.

    July 28, 2014

  • NBA: Lakers set on hiring Byron Scott for new coach

    The Los Angeles Lakers have waited nearly three months to hire a new coach, and they're apparently making Byron Scott wait a few more days.

    Scott said this weekend that he has been hired by the Lakers, but the club insisted Sunday that no deal has been reached.

    July 28, 2014

  • NASCAR: Jeff Gordon claims fifth Brickyard 400 title

    With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again.

    Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight days before his 43rd birthday and on the weekend Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first Brickyard victory.

    July 28, 2014

  • MLB: Thomas, Torre highlight HOF class

    Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy.

    Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats.

    Thomas, pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and managers Bobby Cox, Torre and La Russa were inducted into the baseball shrine Sunday, and all paid special tribute to their families before an adoring crowd of nearly 50,000.

    July 28, 2014

  • Blackmon a 'big deal' for the wrong reasons

    The sports world is littered with gifted athletes whose self-destructive tendencies derailed what should have been promising careers. Ex-Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon appears to be on that well-worn path with his latest arrest.

    July 27, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Three Rivers Bandits notch 8th-straight win

    The Three Rivers Bandits seem to be getting hot when they need to be, heading into next week’s state tournament.

    The Bartlesville Indians were victims of the heat as the Bandits swept a doubleheader from them, 2-0 and then 9-2, on Saturday at Connors State College for their eighth straight win.

    July 27, 2014