ATLANTA -- When your basketball uniforms can best be described as "highlight marker yellow," it's hard to imagine your level of play becoming brighter than your threads.
But for the fourth straight postseason game that they've worn the Adidas experimental unis, the Baylor Bears may have accomplished just that in knocking off Xavier 75-70 in an NCAA South Regional semifinal Friday night in the Georgia Dome.
"When I first put them on, I thought they were kind of loud," freshman forward Quincy Miller said last week. "But now I think we look pretty good in them."
The Bears looked great at the start of this one in moving to a regional final for the second time in three years. Jumping to a 22-4 lead in the first eight minutes, they were up 36-29 at halftime.
Xavier never seriously threatened until the final minute when the Musketeers twice closed within three, but never with the ball.
"We've been through it a lot this year," said Xavier point guard Tu Holloway, who led all scorers with 22 points but missed a crucial one-and-one in the final 33 seconds. "We've gotten down and come back and won. But you can't get that far down on them and come back. Baylor's too good."
No one was better for the Bears than point guard Pierre Jackson, the 5-foot-10 junior college transfer who totaled 16 points, 10 assists and two steals in at least neutralizing Holloway, if not outplaying him.
Throw in 20 points and 15 rebounds from center Quincy Acy and 14 more from Perry Jones III and it's easy to see why losing coach Chris Mack said of the Bears, "They are more talented than us."
But now standing 30-7 on the season, are they talented enough to reach the school's first Final Four since 1950?
To do that they'll have to defeat the Indiana-Kentucky winner Sunday afternoon in the Georgia Dome. But Baylor also reached a South Regional final in 2010 against Duke, barely losing to the eventual national champs.
"This is number one for me right now," said Acy, a senior. "Because it's win No. 100 for my class, and not a lot of classes can say they won 100 games. The next game's going to be tough, but we'll be well-prepared."
Before the tournament began, in addition to the neon yellow uniforms, the Bears began wearing T-shirts that read: "One Team, One God, One Goal."
"It's helped us stay grounded, stay focused and try to get to a situation where we can cut [the regional] nets down and go to the Final Four," winning coach Scott Drew said.
They could now add to that shirt: One Game.
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...