Friday, March 9, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Baylor 81, Kansas 72
By Jason King
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Thoughts from Baylor's 81-72 victory over Kansas.
Overview: Fans hoping to see one final showdown between Kansas and Missouri left the Sprint Center disappointed Friday after Baylor upset No. 1 seed Kansas in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Bears guard Brady Heslip in the game's final two minutes broke open a 67-64 contest and propelled Baylor to its first victory over Kansas since 2009.
Baylor advances to play either Missouri or Texas in Saturday's title game. Kansas, meanwhile, might have lost its shot at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks, who won the regular-season conference title, suffered just their second Big 12 tournament loss since 2005. Kansas had won five of the previous six league tournament titles.
Perry Jones III scored a team-high 18 points for Baylor and was one of six Bears in double figures. Point guard Pierre Jackson had 13 points and 7 assists.
Turning point: The noise level at the Sprint Center deafening after a pair of free throws by Robinson cut Baylor's lead to 67-64 with 2:25 remaining. But Heslip silenced the crowd with a 3-pointer on the other end. Taylor countered with a layup, but Heslip came up with another 3-pointer to make it 73-66 with 1:17 remaining. Kansas never threatened again. Heslip also swished a 3-pointer at the 9:05 mark that turned a 58-56 deficit into a 59-58 Baylor lead.
Key player: They were plentiful for Baylor, but the most encouraging sign was another banner performance from Jones. One night after scoring 31 points against Kansas State, Jones had 18 Friday along with seven rebounds. Jones missed his first six shots of the second half, but he didn't lose confidence. His runner in the lane put Baylor ahead 63-58 at a time when Kansas was threatening.
Key stat: Often criticized for being soft in the paint, Baylor couldn't have been any tougher Friday. The Bears outrebounded the Jayhawks 37-34. They also did an excellent job defensively in holding KU to 42.6 percent shooting. And Baylor kept its composure on offense by committing just nine turnovers.
Miscellaneous: Baylor lost its two regular-season games to Kansas by an average of 16 points ... If the Bears win the Big 12 tournament title it will mean they defeated Kansas State, Kansas and possibly Missouri in what is basically a road environment for each game.
What's ahead: Baylor gets second-seeded Missouri on Saturday. If Baylor wins, there's a chance the Bears could be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Kansas will wait until Selection Sunday to find out if Friday's loss costs it a No. 1 NCAA seed.