Everything has gone Kansas’ way this week. Can the Big 12-leading Jayhawks keep the good fortune going on Saturday against Baylor?
It’s amazing that just one game (and one win) can change the outlook on a season. That’s exactly what KU’s come from behind victory at West Virginia did on Monday night. The Jayhawks are now alone atop the Big 12 standings.
About Baylor: The Bears might be near the bottom of the Big 12 standings, but as we’ve found out this season there is no easy out in the Big 12. Everybody is going to be tough and Baylor is no exception. The Bears have some tight losses to West Virginia, TCU and Wichita State, but also have wins over Texas and Creighton. Despite losing Johnathan Motley and Al Freeman, there are still some familiar faces on Scott Drew’s club. Manu Lecomte leads the Bears in scoring and is in the upper echelon of point guards in the Big 12. Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. is also back as one of the best post players in the conference.
Game Info and Notes:
- Monday, January 20th, 2018 at 5:00 pm CT
- Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan.
- ESPN or WatchESPN App
- Though Kansas leads the overall series with Baylor, 29-4, and has won 10 straight against the Bears. However, each of the last four meetings have been decided by six points or less.
- One-third of the way through the league schedule, Kansas finds itself atop the Big 12 standings with a 5-1 record. In Kansas’ 17 Big 12 regular season championships, the Jayhawks were 5-1 or better in all but two of those title runs (4-2 in both 2006 and 2016).
- Kansas’ win at No. 6 West Virginia on Jan. 15 marked KU’s seventh-straight win over an Associated Press top-10 team in a true road game. Kansas’ last loss to a top-10 squad on the road came at No. 4 Missouri on Feb. 2, 2012.
- Sophomore C Udoka Azubuike leads the NCAA in field goal percentage at 78.1 percent. He is 23-for-25 (92.0 percent) in his last four games. Azubuike is one of only two players nationally to shoot 70 percent or better.
- In Kansas’ last eight games, senior guards Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk have combined to average 37.7 points per game, including 59 of Kansas’ 88 3-pointers. The Jayhawks are averaging 83.0 points in that span.
Bears to Watch
Manu Lecomte – 5’11″ senior, point guard
Lecomte is coming off one of his biggest games of the year, in which he poured in a season-high 30 points on 11-17 shooting from the field. He also tied a season-high of seven made threes. Lecomte is shooting 40% from beyond the arc this season, which is leads the team. KU will need to take the outside shot away from him, as 66% of his shots come from there. If the Jayhawks force him to drive, it will take Lecomte out of his comfort zone.
Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. – 7’0″ senior, forward
Lual-Acuil reminds me of a poorman’s Mo Bamba, as he’s tall and long, but not quite as athletic or agile. This season he’s nearly averaging a double-double of 15.4 PPG and 9.5 RPG. For how big he is, you’d think he’d get most of his shots at the rim, but that is not the case. Only 30% of his shots come at the basket this season (he’s made 80% of them), Lual-Acuil will settle for the mid-range shot, and as you could guess his shooting percentage from mid-range is drastically lower than at the rim at 39%.
Terry Maston – 6’8″ senior, forward
Rico Gathers, Quincy Acy, Cory Jefferson…Maston fits the mold of those guys. Big bodies, who can mix it up down low and grab some rebounds and score a few points. Maston might not be as offensively gifted as those players, but still can be an effective player.
Kansas 83 – Baylor 75
AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK (go to 66:45 mark)
I said something similar last week in the Kansas State preview and it is worth saying this week. If Scott Drew beats Bill Self in Allen Fieldhouse, then the streak is in serious danger. Kansas is the better team. They will win this one. It will be close one, as most Big 12 games have been. KU is riding the high of the big win at West Virginia. Expect the momentum to carry over to Saturday night. Devonte’ Graham had a huge second half against the Mountaineers. He’ll come up big again for the Jayhawks in this one. With the win, it will set up another massive showdown on Tuesday night against OU.