Baylor hasn’t had much success against Texas A&M in recent years, but its only win in the last eight overall meetings went down in the record books.
The No. 21 Bears look to extend one of the program’s best starts as they visit Reed Arena on Wednesday for the first time since their five-overtime victory there last season.
Baylor (13-2, 1-0 Big 12) is 72-125 all-time against Texas A&M (14-2, 0-1), including a 28-72 mark at College Station, but it won an epic battle of wills last season, 116-110 on Jan. 23 in a game that went five overtimes. The victory was the Bears’ first against a ranked team in nearly 40 years, and they used it as a springboard to an eventual NCAA tournament appearance.
Leading scorer Curtis Jerrells scored 36 points while logging 53 minutes in that game—the longest in Big 12 history.
This season, Jerrells is averaging 16.5 points as the Bears are off to another good start this season and have been ranked for seven straight weeks. By comparison, Baylor had only been ranked five times in its previous 102-year history.
The Bears opened Big 12 play with a 73-61 win over Texas Tech on Saturday. LaceDarius Dunn scored 20 points to lead five players in double figures while Kevin Rogers added 14 and 14 rebounds. Dunn scored 11 consecutive points in the second half to give the Bears the lead for good.
“They were giving me the ball and I was just taking advantage of it,” said Dunn, who had been held to a season-low nine points in Baylor’s loss to South Carolina the week before. “The hardest thing is trying not to get too pumped up. I was just trying to keep my composure and not let other players get to me.”
While Baylor’s success last season came as a surprise, the Bears aren’t going to shock many teams anymore. That doesn’t bother coach Scott Drew, who appears to have turned a corner in rebuilding a program decimated following violations found under predecessor Dave Bliss and the murder of former player Patrick Dennehy.
“It’s easier to overcome adversity when you’ve been through adversity,” said Drew, who went 8-21 in his first season in 2003-04, and was restricted to playing only conference games in 2005-06 after the NCAA levied sanctions for Bliss’ violations. “When we go into games, we won’t sneak up on people. People are going to be excited to play us. We have to be ready.”
Texas A&M, meanwhile, looks to rebound after having its 10-game winning streak snapped with a 72-61 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Chinemelu Elonu scored 20 points and B.J. Holmes added a career-high 19. The Aggies shot 38.9 percent from the field and leading scorer Josh Carter was held scoreless for the first time in nearly two years.
“We do a lot to get Josh the ball, but Josh has to create his own shot,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “He’s got to get himself going, that’s what great players do.”
Carter, who came in averaging 13.9 points, was 0-for-7 from the field Saturday. He’s averaged 12.0 points in six career games against the Bears, and had 15 points and 10 rebounds while playing 57 minutes in the quintuple-overtime loss.
The Aggies, who started 1-3 in the Big 12 before finishing 8-8, are trying to avoid another slow start in Big 12 play, but open a difficult stretch with this game. They host No. 6 Oklahoma on Saturday before playing at Kansas and No. 11 Texas next week.
Six of the last seven games in this series were decided by 10 points or less. After the five-overtime loss last season, the Aggies won 71-57 in Waco.