Mark Vital is the Baylor Bears’ new all-time winner in Big 12 Conference action, as the Bears defeated the Kansas State Wildcats, 107-59, on Wednesday night.
The Bears remained undefeated on the season (15-0, 8-0 in Big 12), but Vital earned a singular distinction with the victory, as he won his 40th conference game as a Bear, putting him at the top of the program’s all-time win list in Big 12 games.
Vital was tied with A.J. Walton before Wednesday’s victory broke the tie. In fact, Vital’s overall winning percentage (40-21) is better than Walton’s (39-29). Vital finished the game with eight points, five rebounds, one assist, three steals and one blocked shot.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound guard is a senior from Lake Charles, Louisiana, and while he is not the Bears’ leading scorer, Vital is considered one of the most indispensable players in the Big 12, thanks to his ‘do-anything’ attitude, something he talked about with ESPN’s Holly Rowe on her Big 12 show on Tuesday on Sirus/XM College radio.
“I love being that guy who is a headache for you every game,” Vital told Rowe.
Vital plays on a team full of headaches, including guard Jared Butler, who is a Wooden Award Top 15 players and a Cousy Award Top 10 player. Plus, guard MaCio Teague is a Jerry West Award Top 10 player.
But Wednesday was Vital’s night. Well, from a CAREER standpoint. Guard Davion Mitchell did have the biggest scoring night of his career, 31 points, including seven 3-pointers.
Vital was a finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award last year, while earning All-Big 12 Defensive Team and Big 12 Honorable Mention honors. Vital doesn’t score many points, but he’s among the Big 12’s best rebounders, despite his height. If you watch one Baylor game you know who Vital is without seeing his number. He’s the one diving on the floor for loose balls, moving around guys how are bigger than him and doing the dirty work other players don’t like doing.
He’s gone as far as to create his own hoodie that says ‘Glue Guy’ across the front, something he created himself and showed to Rowe during their conversation. Vital even went so far as to put different definitions of ‘Glue Guy’ on the back.
“(Coaches say) I do 95 percent of the stuff that no one else wants to do,” Vital told Rowe. “They call me a glue guy and I looked it up. It stuck in my head. The definition of it is on the back of the hoodie. I wanted to create my own. This is who I am and this is how they know me. They’ll know me as the most relentless player in college basketball.”
And now he’s Baylor’s biggest winner in Big 12 play.
“That’s just me, Vital said to Rowe about the milestone. “I love winning. Stuff like that, nothing can beat that. That right there. I love winning. I’m excited about it. I might cry (Wednesday). The hard work, the sacrifice. I’m going to take that in.”
Vital’s milestone came on the same night that the Baylor program celebrated its ‘Immortal Ten,’ its annual tradition in which players wear jerseys with the names of 10 former Baylor players, coaches and fans who died in a bus crash on Jan. 22, 1927.
Baylor faces Auburn on Saturday in the Big 12-SEC Challenge.
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