Baylor’s previously been a national contender under Scott Drew. They’ve held a No. 1 ranking and been on the precipice of a Final Four berth. In all 16 previous trips to Lawrence, Kansas, however, the result of every visit to Allen Fieldhouse remained the same. The Bears had never beaten Kansas on the road — or any top-5 team for that matter.
But Saturday’s trip to Lawrence was different. At least it felt different. Baylor (13-1 overall, 3-0 Big 12) didn’t just escape with a win. The Bears led for almost 31 minutes in a 67-55 win over the Jayhawks (12-3, 2-1). Coming into the matchup, Drew was 0-12 at Kansas. By comparison, Bill Self had lost 13 home games in the same timeframe (since the 2003-04 season).
Here’s how Baylor won at Kansas for the first time ever.
Dictate the tempo
Baylor’s starting lineup of Jared Butler, Mark Vital, MaCio Teague, Freddie Gillespie and Davion Mitchell lacked the height Kansas’ frontcourt pairing of David McCormack (6-foot-10) and Udoka Azubuike (7-foot) offers. What Baylor lacked in size it made up for in versatility.
The Bears’ offense settled in towards the end of the first half, outscoring Kansas 22-4 over the final 6:46 to take a 13-point lead into the break. During that time, KU had as many turnovers as it made shots (2). Baylor’s ability to space the floor and get out in transition (nine steals) disrupted the Jayhawks’ flow. But the small-ball lineup also played big, outrebounded by three.
Azubuike didn’t score until the 14:30 mark of the second half, while McCormack played 10 minutes and was held scoreless. Second-chance points were scarce while open looks were harder to come by as Kansas committed 14 turnovers and shot 39.2 percent.
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Weather the rally
You don’t go 256-13 at home under Self without a few comebacks. Kansas faced its largest deficit of the season by halftime but a second-half run seemed imminent. After an Azubuike field goal with 11:35 to go, Kansas trailed by 5. Ochai Ogbaji and Teague traded baskets before the Jayhawks were held without a field goal for nearly 3 minutes. Marcus Garrett snapped that streak, but the lead was back to double digits by that point.
Aside from a 5:20 scoreless stretch in the opening half, Baylor’s offense was unrelenting. Gillespie had 10 of his 13 points in the second half, including a pair of baskets during the game-clinching run. Teague had 13 in the first half and finished with 16 while Butler’s game-high 22 paced the attack.
Of Kansas’ nine-player rotation, seven were on the floor for at least 10 minutes. Of those players, five recorded at least two turnovers to finish with 14 as a team. The Jayhawks have had more giveaways than their opponents in all three losses this season.
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Baylor came into Saturday’s game ranking top-20 in steal percentage while boasting a top-10 interior defense. Kansas shot better than the Bears’ defensive average and won the battle on the boards, yet Baylor left Allen Fieldhouse with a double-digit win after registering nine steals and nine more shot attempts. Drew’s team turned the ball over only five times, including a 21-minute stretch between giveaways.