WACO, Texas — Baylor students packed the Ferrell Center Friday night ahead of the Bears' Top 5 Showdown with Kansas. ESPN's College GameDay is in Waco to preview the Big 12 Battle.
Students arrived at the arena around 5 p.m. to reserve their front-row seats for the game. Those students took part in a lock-in, camping out in the Ferrell Center concourse.
"I'm excited," Baylor freshman Will Smith said. "To see No. 1 play No. 3, it's gonna be a good game. But, obviously, we're hoping for the Bears to pull it off and win the game. So, we're all excited."
The doors close to students at 3 a.m. Saturday morning and re-open for general admission at 9 a.m.
Head Coach Scott Drew came to visit with students at the Ferrell Center Friday night, along with the rest of the Baylor basketball team.
"If you're a sports fan," Drew said, "it doesn't get any bigger than College GameDay. So hopefully, they get a couple extra shots of coffee in the morning and let's go."
As Baylor looks ahead to one of the biggest matchups in program history against No. 3 Kansas, sophomore guard Jared Butler has emerged as a leader in the clutch.
The first time Baylor played Kansas this year, Butler scored 22 points to lead the Bears to a win in Allen Fieldhouse.
Butler has been a leader in several of Baylor's biggest games this season. In a tournament title game early in the year, Butler scored 22 against Villanova. Last week, he scored 21 against No. 14 West Virginia. Tuesday night, he scored 22 on the road against Oklahoma to lead Baylor to a Big 12 record 23rd straight win.
"Some people are better practice players," Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew said. "Some people are better when the game is not on the line, and others are better when it's the heat of the moment, and that's something you can't teach."
Drew said Butler has matured all season, asserting himself as a leader in clutch situations. Saturday, the Bears will likely look to him again as a key option in a big game.
"It's another game, a blockbuster, big-time TV," Butler said. "It's fun, but it's also just another game."
Baylor expects more than 25,000 fans to come to Waco for more than 10 different sporting events on Saturday, meaning parking and traffic could be a problem for Baylor fans.
The university will provide shuttles and campus garages to help alleviate the added fans.
"We have shuttles from the East Campus Garage," Baylor associate athletic director Henry Howard said. "Use the shuttle, come early: those would be my 2 biggest tips for getting to the game."
College GameDay starts at 10 a.m. Opening tip will follow just after 11 a.m.