Game 14: No. 6 Kansas at No. 2 Baylor – Preview and Prediction

The No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks look to get back on track on Big Monday as they gear up for a Big 12 showdown against the No. 2 Baylor Bears. The Jayhawks had the weekend off, as their game against Iowa State was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns within the Cyclone program. The last time we saw KU was last Tuesday, as they fell at Oklahoma State. Kansas has struggled shooting the ball over their last two games. They are a combined 11-41 from three over their last two games. Baylor, on the other hand, comes in as one of the hottest teams in the country and some regard them as the best team in the country. The Jayhawks head into this matchup as a nine-point underdog, the biggest spread in the Bill Self era. 

  • Monday, January 18, 2021, 8:00 PM CDT
  • Ferrell Center – Waco, Texas
  • ESPN
  • No. 6/7 Kansas (10-3, 4-2) plays its first of three ESPN Big Monday games of 2020-21 at No. 2/2 Baylor (12-0, 5-0) on Jan. 18. Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas will call the action.
  • Kansas is 4-2 against ranked foes this season. Including 2020-21, the Jayhawks play an average of 8.8 ranked opponents per season under 18thyear head coach Bill Self
  • Kansas leads the Big 12 in blocked shots per game at 4.6 and ranks in the upper half of 11 conference stat categories.
  • Junior Ochai Agbaji leads the Big 12 in 3FG% (42.7) and 3FGs made (2.7). Agbaji has made 22 threes in his last seven games.
  • Junior David McCormack is averaging 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game in his last three outings. He has two 20-point efforts in his last three games with 20 at TCU (1/5) and 24, with 12 rebounds, at Oklahoma State (1/12).
  • Kansas is 98-13 following a loss in the Bill Self era, which started in 2003-04, including 2-0 this season and 3-0 in 2019-20. Incredibly, KU has been even more efficient over the last six-plus seasons, amassing a record of 47-5 after losses. This includes an 8-1 mark in 2018-19.

Bears to Watch

Jared Butler – 6’3”, senior, guard

Butler leads the Bears at 15.6 PPG, 2.5 SPG and is second on the team in assists at 5.2 APG. He is coming off what was perhaps his worst game of the year against Texas Tech, as he scored just seven points on 2-11 shooting, but the game before he scored a season-high 28 points against TCU. Butler can fill it up from deep too, as he is shooting 41.5 percent from deep this season.

Davion Mitchell – 6’2”, junior, guard

Mitchell and Butler form perhaps the best backcourt in the Big 12. Mitchell is third on the team in scoring at 12.1 PPG and leads the Bears at 5.9 APG. He is also shooting over 40 percent from three-point land this year, a common theme among this Baylor team. 

Jayhawk Pick to Click

Jalen Wilson – 6’8”, RS freshman, guard

For much of the season Wilson has been KU’s best player, but the redshirt freshman has gone cold recently as he’s scored just four and nine points respectively over his last two games. Wilson is a very important part of what the Jayhawks do because he can score, shoot the three, rebound and defend. If Kansas stands a shot against this Baylor team, they are going to need Wilson to step up and play much better than his recent performance. 

Prediction

Outside of the rout of TCU on January 5, Kansas looked pretty underwhelming since 2021 started with the Texas blowout. This team seemed to be rolling, but that Texas game has put KU into a little bit of a funk. Baylor has been sizzling hot all season long and getting a lot of hype, which is fair because they were a great team last year and brought back most of that team.

It’s also fair to say that the Bears really haven’t been tested much this season. They have wins over Illinois and Texas Tech, but they had matchups against Gonzaga, Texas and West Virginia all cancelled. Obviously, this game is a huge one because it is two of the Big 12’s elite programs, but Kansas needs this game. With a loss, the Jayhawks would fall to 4-3 in league play, and they’d be even further behind Baylor and Texas in the standings. The Jayhawks undoubtedly will have to shoot the ball considerably better, which will be tough against a team as good defensively as Baylor. The Bears rank near the top nationally in almost every defensive category. Baylor is a very consistent three-point shooting team, so KU will need to make a good chunk of their attempts to keep up.

Kansas could have a matchup advantage in the post with David McCormack. The Bears don’t have anyone that plays more than 15 minutes per game that is over 6’8”, although Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua does sit at 245 lbs. Look for the Jayhawks to try and get McCormack involved early. \

Another thing Kansas has going for it is its historic dominance in Waco. Kansas is 11-2 both straight up and against the spread at Baylor in the Bill Self era. Amazingly, ranked Baylor teams are 0-5 against KU in the Ferrell Center. It’s not often that KU loses here, and the coaching advantage is definitely a huge part of that. If Kansas can shoot the ball well, get solid contributions from McCormack, and defend the three-point line better than they have in the last couple of weeks, they may be able to get the plays they need late to pull one out. But against a team as good on both ends as the Bears are, that’s a tall, tall task.

With all that said, I’m going to go with the Bears. They have looked great this year, and a team as strong defensively as Baylor is not a good recipe for a team struggling like Kansas. Bill Self does tend to be a difference in games like these, so I expect Kansas to keep it close for most of the night, but in the end I think Baylor is the better team. I’ll say they pull away late and cover the large spread.

Baylor 73, Kansas 62

Baylor -9

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK

Season Record: 10-3 (9-4 ATS)

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1.