You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

breaking news

Travis County D.A. pursuing charges in 2013 officer-involved shooting

Unexpectedly, NCAA Tournament may bring together SMU, Baylor

Holy moly, this isn’t how the men’s basketball season was supposed to play out in Texas.

The state’s only teams in the final national rankings come from two private schools, and neither one received a single vote in the AP preseason poll. And in a cruel twist of fate, just one of them can reach the Sweet 16.

Eleventh-ranked SMU and No. 12 Baylor were lumped into the same four-team pod in Tulsa, Okla. If they win their NCAA Tournament openers on Friday, they will meet in the second round Sunday.

“At least we’ll be close to home,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose third-seeded team will open against Western Athletic Conference Tournament champ New Mexico State. “The last two years, we were sent to Jacksonville, Fla., and Providence, R.I., so this is a treat for us and our fans.”

Yet SMU’s designation as a No. 6 seed, which was universally panned by analysts who saw the Mustangs as a third or fourth seed, creates the possibility of a second-round matchup between the Ponies and Bears that shouldn’t happen until the Sweet 16.

“I really could start whining; I certainly think we deserved better,” said SMU coach Tim Jankovich, whose team will begin play against the Providence-USC winner, “but the truth is, they’re just numbers. It’s like the preseason rankings. Just silly numbers.”

SMU’s numbers are quite stunning. The Mustangs (30-4) have reeled off 16 victories in a row, the nation’s third-longest winning streak behind Vermont (21) and Princeton (19). After starting 4-3, SMU is 26-1 and swept the American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships.

“Our confidence is sky high,” said senior guard Sterling Brown, who scored 18 points in the American Athletic Conference title game. “We’ve gelled, and it shows. I feel like we’ll make a good run in the (NCAA) Tournament.”

SMU has pulled this off with a roster of three-star recruits and one blue-chipper, junior forward Semi Ojeleye, a transfer from Duke.

“Our chemistry is as good as any team in the country,” said Ojeleye, the AAC player of the year who averages 18.9 points and 6.8 rebounds.

The Mustangs have an unusual makeup. They start five almost interchangeable players, each between 6 feet, 6 inches and 6-8. They only go six deep, but they don’t foul. They are in the NCAA top 10 in scoring margin, rebounding margin, 3-point shooting, field-goal percentage defense and fewest fouls.

“I just keep being amazed by what they do night after night,” Jankovich said.

Baylor wants a shot at SMU to settle who’s the best in Texas. The former Southwest Conference rivals haven’t met in 13 years.

But the Bears are taking nothing for granted, not after being ousted from the NCAAs in each of the past two seasons by double-digit seeds Yale and Georgia State.

“That’s all we’re hearing about this week: ‘Don’t get bounced in the first round,’” said senior guard Ish Wainright, who will become the first Baylor player to participate in four NCAA Tournaments. “I’m pretty sure we’re properly motivated.”

Drew said New Mexico State (28-5), which had a 20-game winning streak at one point this season, doesn’t look like a mid-major squad.

“Sometimes when you play teams from other conferences, they might not have the size and athleticism, but these guys do,” he said. “They are long, like to press and are led by a fifth-year point guard.”

Baylor (25-7) has been on a different track than SMU. The Bears started 15-0, reached No. 1 in the country for the first time ever but finished 5-6 and as a banged-up team.

All-America power forward Johnathan Motley is playing with a dislocated finger. Point guard Manu Lecomte, the Big 12 newcomer of the year, has dealt with a sprained right ankle.

“If there’s a silver lining about losing early in the Big 12 Tournament, it’s having time to get healthy,” Drew said. “We’re in better shape than we’ve been for quite some time.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Bohls: Near end of his career, Ginobili is more heart than spare part
Bohls: Near end of his career, Ginobili is more heart than spare part

The tributes came pouring in, unsolicited but totally accurate. Pau Gasol spoke of his teammate’s “intensity and willingness to sacrifice his body.” Kawhi Leonard raved about his friend’s “competitive nature.” Patty Mills? He referred to the “grandpa juice” that his elderly teammate brings to the floor...
NFL draft capsules for NFC teams 
NFL draft capsules for NFC teams 

LAST SEASON: 49ers tied franchise record for losses, leading to organizational overhaul. Longtime GM Trent Baalke was fired, along with first-year coach Chip Kelly, and replaced by first-time GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Team struggled just about everywhere in 2016. Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick failed to provide strong quarterback play...
Distracting or dirty, NHL agitators can provide spark in playoffs
Distracting or dirty, NHL agitators can provide spark in playoffs

Late in the second period of a scoreless Game 3 of his first-round playoff series at Madison Square Garden, Montreal Canadiens forward Steve Ott went to work. With New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello hovering around Montreal goaltender Carey Price, Ott stepped in front of Zuccarello and without warning began tousling his long locks. Zuccarello...
The NFL draft's fastest rising QB chose football over baseball
The NFL draft's fastest rising QB chose football over baseball

At some point in the NFL draft, probably in Thursday night's first round, a team will formalize an improbable outcome and select Patrick Mahomes II. The improbability would not stem from Mahomes reaching the highest level of football. He posted astonishing statistics at Texas Tech, got all As in high school, stands a sturdy 6-foot-3 and possesses enough...
NFL draft capsules for AFC teams 
NFL draft capsules for AFC teams 

LAST SEASON: Following 0-14 start under first-year coach Hue Jackson, Browns barely avoided becoming only second team to lose all 16 games. Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam vowed to be patient with new front office and coaching staff and were mostly true to word as team underwent minimal offseason changes. Cleveland's biggest issue remains as it has been...
More Stories