Baylor Bears

Three Thoughts on Baylor’s 75-69 Win over Kansas

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Baylor

The Baylor Bears beat the Kansas Jayhawks, 75-69, at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, on Monday. Here are three thoughts on this Big 12 Conference game.

No. 17 Baylor (15-5, 5-3) has won five straight since starting Big 12 play 0-3 and beat Kansas in back-to-back games for the first time ever.

No. 9 Kansas (16-4, 5-3 in Big 12) has lost three straight games to ranked teams and three straight games for just the fourth time under Coach Bill Self.

 

How Baylor Won

Well, in the first half, it was basically all LJ Cryer. The guard has been up and down this season, but in the first half, he was all the offense the Bears needed, scoring 19 points and making five 3-pointers, which matched his career high for a game.

Basically, everything was working for the Bears. Adam Flagler had 10 points by halftime. Baylor’s switching defense — the Bears toggled from man to zone — frustrated the Jayhawks. The only difficult thing was forward Flo Thamba getting into foul trouble.

Well, in the second half much of that changed. Kansas’ switching man defense started giving the Bears trouble. They started settling for outside shots and stopped driving. Cryer cooled off. That gave Kansas a chance to chip away. Briefly, Kansas had a lead with about 14 minutes left. But a 6-0 run, thanks to a Flagler 3-pointer and a Jalen Bridges 3-point play put the Bears back up six points.

Kansas never made it a one-possession game after that. Baylor took advantage of the fact that it got in the bonus halfway through the second half and kept driving to the basket, drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line (20-for-25).

Cryer finished with 22 points. Flagler had 17 points. Bridges had 11 points and nine rebounds. Langston Love had 11 points. Baylor did a great job on the offensive glass, winning that battle, 17-8. That helped Baylor to 16 second-chance points to Kansas’ four.

 

How Kansas Lost

This is a game where Kansas’ lack of size really hurt them. Along with the lack of offensive rebounds, Kansas fell behind by double digits due to turnovers and players like Gradey Dick and Jalen Wilson got into foul trouble (neither fouled out).

Kansas ratcheted up its defense in the second half, did a better job of cutting down on dribble penetration, and finally hit shots consistently. They trimmed Baylor’s seven-point halftime lead quickly. When Kansas grabbed that lead, it looked like the game was going to turn.

But Kansas didn’t hold the lead, the defense started to falter and the game was called much tighter in the second half than in the first. Kansas didn’t adjust. Even a Bill Self technical didn’t spur the Jayhawks into another gear.

Dick finished with 24 points while Wilson had 23 (he had scored at least 30 points in each of the previous two games). Kevin McCullar had 14 points and 12 rebounds. But the bench was unable to help Kansas again. The only Kansas bench player that scored was MJ Rice, who had two points.

Kansas should be alarmed. There’s plenty to fix.

 

Langston Love’s Big Night

He only scored 11 points, but Langston Love’s evening was critical to Baylor’s win. When Baylor got the lead back for good it was Love’s three-point play that did the job. He did it again to push the Bears’ lead to 61-53 with about nine minutes left. He also hit a 3-pointer.

Most notably, down the stretch, the Bears put the ball in his hands and let him drive. He drew a foul that led to two free throws with 1:26 left gave Baylor a 72-65 lead.

The Bears are like Kansas in that they’re not terribly deep right now. But, if a player like Love can give them more production like Monday, that’s going to help the Bears not just in Big 12 play, but also in the NCAA Tournament in March. People forget that he was the Bears’ top recruit for 2021-22 before he blew out the ACL in his knee.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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