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TULSA, Okla. – No means no.

When Baylor went on the road this season that was the go-to chant from opposing Big 12 crowds, for obvious – and cruel -- reasons. What the incantation lacked in taste, it made up for in timing.

The anti-rape slogan burrowed its way into the Baylor soul Jan. 10 at West Virginia. And not in a good way. That was a day after the Bears were ranked No. 1 in the country for the first time. 

They promptly lost by 21.

“We get that everywhere,” guard Ish Wainwright said. “Not even just at games. We’ll be out and about and hear it. Some people on campus, some people off campus That’s not who we are. We’re going to do everything we can to keep Baylor positive.”

That’s sort of a secondary quest here at Baylor’s opening-weekend East Region games. This particular segment of Baylor athletics is an oasis. No one in the Bears’ locker room this weekend had anything to do with what we seem to read about on a daily basis coming out of Waco.

“Not too many people have noticed [that],” Wainwright said. “That’s why we come out with a chip on our shoulder. We still have a lot to prove.”

But how to do you disprove something you haven’t done? The sexual assault scandal at Baylor is now in its ninth month. The negative news seems to keep flowing unabated.

If it’s not women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey with her “knock them right in the face” comment, it’s two members of Matt Rhule’s new football staff already being booted.

Whatever crisis management team Baylor has hired to turn off the faucet of bad news, it should be next to go. It certainly hasn’t done its job.

“Something [is] happening every day,” Wainwright said.

Playing Baylor basketball has become the ultimate guilt by association. The locker room has also been a sanctuary.

“We’re under a magnifying glass,” Wainwright, a senior, told his teammates one day. “Anywhere. Whatever you do will come to light.”

If the scandal has taught us anything, it’s never wise to fully buy-in to a feel-good sports story. If it feels too good to be true … well, you know the rest.

It’s a defense mechanism the media has built up, not just regarding Baylor. Everywhere. Today’s underdog could be on tomorrow’s police blotter.

But you have to take these basketball Bears at face value heading into a second-round game against USC. There’s a lot to like beyond coach Scott Drew, who at any given moment continues to be so gushingly pleasant he could be a greeter at Disney World.

“I want my kids to go to Baylor one day,” Drew said as he headed for the team bus during Saturday’s off day. “The goal [is] to be the safest campus in the country. That’s an admirable goal.”

Still, this team having the chance to be the best of the Drew era is probably not the first thing that jumps to mind these days. But at some level you need to know the 25 regular-season wins tied the program record.

In getting to No. 1, the Bears beat Oregon, Florida Gulf Coast, Michigan State, Louisville, Xavier and Oklahoma State in starting 15-0.

Drew has already led the Bears to two Elite Eights (2010, 2012). All that stands between him and a fourth Sweet 16 are the Trojans.

Gangly Johnathan Motley – a walking double-double – was a second-team All-American. Seven-foot Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. is probably the other future NBA pro on the roster.

Lual-Acuil arrived in Waco via Sudan, Uganda, Australia and Neosho County (Kan.) Community College. 

“When I left Australia it was during the summer. It was warm,” the African native said. “When I touched down in Kansas it was snowing. It was just a big shock. I didn’t want to get out of bed the next morning. I didn’t want to go outside.”

Gather ‘round the campfire, kids. There are more good stories. Junior guard Manu Lecomte was the Big 12 newcomer of the year. Guard Jake Lindsay’s dad is Utah Jazz GM Dennis Lindsay.

Motley is a Naismith semifinalist.

In public, this is Drew’s best defensive team – 14th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. In private, they had been molded a different way.

“If you run into any problems, call us. Call the coaching staff. We’ll come and get you. Don’t call anybody else.”

That’s how freshman guard Tyson Jolly recounted a lecture from his coach.

“Ain’t no way the school right now had anything to do with that,” Jolly continued. “A lot of people are using that [sexual scandal] to keep Baylor on the negative side.”

Drew was asked about the most curious recruiting question he’s gotten from parents since May 26, the day the scandal broke

Remember, this was an administrative/football failure that reflected on everything Baylor.

The coach held up one hand. There have been less than five questions from parents regarding the scandal.

The victims should always be in our thoughts. But as with any college athletic disgrace this pervasive, there are usually innocents involved.

A few of them have slogged through insults, innuendo and labels they absolutely do not deserve.

“It’s Baylor, Wainwright said. “To me it’s still is the best school in the country. Everybody has their flaws.”