Here is everything you need to know about the Kansas Jayhawks and the Baylor Bears in our Kansas vs. Baylor Big 12 men’s basketball preview.
7 p.m. Central Time, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, The Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas.
Records: Kansas: 23-4 (12-2 in Big 12); Baylor: 23-5 (11-4 in Big 12).
Last game: Kansas: def. Kansas State, 102-83 (Feb. 22); Baylor: def. Oklahoma State, 66-64 (Feb. 21).
Previous meeting: Kansas 83, Baylor 59 (Feb. 5).
Player to Watch
G Christian Braun: The development of Braun’s game over the last three years has put him on the radars of NBA scouts, but head coach Bill Self is hoping his second-leading scorer sticks around for one more year in Lawrence. Braun had 20 points against Kansas State, but it’s ‘everything else’ that makes him such an intriguing player. He had seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in that win. For the season, he’s averaging 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He does a little bit of everything as part of the Jayhawks’ ‘Dynamic Duo’ in the backcourt.
G Adam Flagler: Right now, Flagler is the Bears’ No. 1 scoring option, and that was never more evident than against Oklahoma State. He scored 29 points and made seven 3-pointers. It was a game in which guard LJ Cryer didn’t play and guard James Akinjo scored just six points. The Bears had to lean hard on Flagler, and until the Bears get healthy — if that’s possible at this point — they’ll keep leaning on the senior (who is also banged up). He’s averaging 13.7 points per game, and he’s hit double figures in each of his last nine games.
Did you hear the one about Ochai Agbaji passing Wilt Chamberlain? Agbaji scored 23 points against Kansas State, giving him 1,444 points for his career and allowing him to pass Chamberlain for No. 26 on the all-time list. Agbaji should be heading for the NBA after this season, so whatever he does the rest of the way is gravy. He admitted he didn’t know he passed Chamberlain on Tuesday night. He’s probably paying attention to the two wins the Jayhawks need to clinch the Big 12 regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. Kansas won’t shoot the 64 percent they shot against Kansas State on Tuesday night. Or, will they? No, probably not. But the Jayhawks are absolutely in a groove.
It’s a long shot, but the Bears still have a chance to defend their Big 12 regular-season crown. A lot has to go right to do that, but for it to happen it starts with the Bears beating Kansas on Saturday. The Bears were blown out in the first meeting, and that was with forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. Now that the forward is out, and the three guards are in various degrees of being banged up, the Bears are making it work with a rotation of seven, sometimes eight players. When they’re healthy, the Bears can compete with anyone in the conference. A player down, like they were against Oklahoma State, and it’s going to depend a lot on whether a player like Flagler can step up and have a big game. The Bears are relying more on their 1-3-1 zone, in part I believe to save the players some wear and tear with a short rotation.
Baylor is 7-30 all-time against Kansas. But, the Bears have split the last four games in Waco.
Kansas 79, Baylor 71. If Cryer plays, make this a closer game. Even if he plays, the Jayhawks are in such a groove right now that they’ll find a way to win and get a step closer to that Big 12 title.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.