The Jayhawks traveled to Waco last night to take on the Baylor Bears for the second time this season. Naadir Tharpe and company took care of business as they swept Baylor 69-52 and won their eighth conference game of the season. The Jayhawks currently sit in first place in the Big 12 with a record of 8-1, while the loss put Baylor in ninth place at 2-7.
Let’s take a look at how Kansas took care of business in Waco:
1. Making Heslip uncomfortable on offense: At the start of the game, it looked as if Brady Heslip was going to have a big night for the Bears as he hit four three-pointers in the first half. These shots kept Baylor in the game throughout most of the first 20 minutes, and once Heslip had hit three in a row, Self knew that Kansas needed to contain him. Fortunately, they were able to do that as Selden locked down on defense and held Heslip scoreless in the second half.
2. Handling Baylor’s interior size: As Brandon noted in the pre-game write up, Kansas has a hard time winning games when they get out rebounded. That was not the case last night as Kanas beat Baylor on the boards 45-31 which ultimately gave them the edge they needed to pull out a road win in Waco. Kansas snagged 35 defensive rebounds as opposed to Baylor’s 21, and both teams grabbed 10 offensive rebounds on the night as well. Kansas’ bigs did a great job boxing out and getting inside position on this physical Baylor squad as Kansas four-man Perry Ellis recorded 10 rebounds, while Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins both snagged seven each. If Kansas can continue to out rebound teams by such a large margin, their chances of winning their 10th straight Big 12 title is going to skyrocket.
3. Can KU recover from the loss at Texas and put Baylor away early: With a solid win over Baylor, it seems that Kansas’ loss to Texas last weekend was nothing but a bad game for the Jayhawks. While Baylor hung around in the first half because of Heslip’s four, three-pointers, Selden was able to shut him down in the second half which gave the Jayhawks a defensive advantage. Though Kansas was able to contain Heslip, the Bears continued to fight during the last twenty minutes as they found themselves down just three points with about 12 minutes to play. It was at that point that Kansas rammed their foot on the gas pedal as Naadir hit a shot from beyond the arc while Wiggins added another three-pointer along with two dunks to get the Jayhawks out to a 12 point lead. From here, the Jayhawks never looked back as they came out with a solid 69-52 victory in Waco. This was an important road win for the Jayhawks as they finally showed that they can recover from a loss instead of going on a two or three game losing skid. Once again, the Jayhawks are proving to the rest of the league that the Big 12 title is going to have to come through Lawrence for the 10th straight season.