The Upshaw brothers were the difference for Baylor Saturday night.
Playing against arch-rival McCallie in a packed Jimmy Duke Arena, older brother Reggie made a triumphant return from a broken foot to score 31 points.
However, it was younger brother Gage who had the biggest rebound and made the two biggest free throws of his life as the host Red Raiders rallied for a 57-56 victory.
Baylor is now 9-7 overall and 2-2 in region play while McCallie falls to 9-10 overall and 1-4 in the region.
Reggie scored on a short jumper off an inbounds play with 37 seconds to give Baylor a 55-53 lead.
McCallie worked patiently for a late shot, but Baylor's man-to-man defense smothered Jamaal Calvin as he drove the baseline, forcing the talented senior to dish off to teammate Jorden Williams in the corner.
Williams is equally good as a shooter, but his shot was off the mark and Gage Upshaw was in the right place at the right time to claim the rebound. He was fouled in the process and went to the charity stripe with five seconds remaining.
The muscular freshman never flinched as he calmly swished both ends of a one-and-one to give his team a seemingly-safe four-point lead.
Calvin hit a long 3 at the buzzer to make the final score 57-56.
"I'm exhausted, but I'm happy we won," said Reggie after exiting a subdued Baylor dressing room.
"I'm not really happy with the way I played as I'm still not in good shape, but I wanted to get my teammates more involved. When Gage went to the free throw line, I knew he could make them as I was totally confident in his ability," the 6-7 senior added.
Baylor coach Austin Clark knew from the start that his star player would be a difference maker.
"I felt like he'd play well because he's a competitor. That wasn't too bad, considering he's practiced with us for two days, but it was such an emotional game.
"It's a big win, first because it's a league game and second it's McCallie. We were very impatient at times on offense as we took some bad shots, but we shifted to a man defense at the end because we didn't want to get beat by a long shot.
"I'm really proud of the way these guys bounced back after getting totally whipped at Bradley earlier this week. Of course, it helped that we were playing our biggest rival," Clark added.
McCallie coach Dan Wadley was certain that Upshaw would play. The Blue Tornado used several different players in an attempt to be more physical in an attempt to slow him down, but nothing seemed to work.
"You just saw a heck of a game. We knew that Reggie would be playing and we tried to be more physical with him, but he did an outstanding job for them," the veteran McCallie coach praised.
"They went to a man defense at the end and that sort of confused us. We were wanting Jamaal to take the last shot, but he was covered and it went to Jorden. He's a good shooter too, but it just didn't fall.
"Just a typical Baylor-McCallie basketball game. Sometimes they go our way and sometimes they don't, but I was really proud of our effort," Wadley added.
While the Upshaws were the two biggest heroes for Baylor, it was a dorm student from Switzerland named Amedgo Giussanni who also nailed a couple of critical 3s at the end.
Calvin had nailed a 3 to give McCallie a 49-45 lead with 3:31 to play before Giussani nailed a 3 of his own to answer on Baylor's next possession. Then with McCallie holding a 51-50 lead with just over two minutes to play, the slender forward nailed another to give Baylor the lead.
"I can hit those long shots when I'm open, but we're so glad to have Reggie back. It gave our entire team a huge lift tonight," Giussani added.
Williams scored on a drive with 1:23 to play as McCallie tied the score once again at 53-53, setting up the frantic finish for the Upshaw brothers.
While the older Upshaw had 31 points to lead both teams, teammate Matt Clendenen hit some key buckets along the way to finish with 10 points.
Clay Born and Giussani both followed with six points apiece.
Calvin had 20 points to lead the Blue Tornado, including 17 in the second half.
Nick Jacobs was next with 14 while C.J. Fritz and Williams added 10 each.
McCallie had a 19-13 rebounding edge in the first half and finished with 29 while Baylor claimed 26.
Jacobs was tops for McCallie with eight while Calvin snagged six. Clendenen had seven for Baylor while Reggie Upshaw had six and Gage Upshaw five.
McCallie 13 11 16 16 -- 56
Baylor 14 15 14 14 -- 57
McCALLIE (56) -- Fritz 10, Williams 10, Moxey 1, Jacobs 14, Whitener, Calvin 20, Clark, Hobbs, Wolf 1, Couch.
BAYLOR (57) -- Born 6, Bowens, Clendenen 10, Maum, G. Upshaw 2, Lupas 2,. R. Upshaw 31, Giussanni 6.
3-POINT GOALS: McCallie 5 (Calvin 5); Baylor 6 (Born 2, R. Upshaw 2, Giussani 2).
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)