Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Kansas 68, Baylor 54
By Carter Strickland
WACO, Texas -- Here are a few thoughts after a 68-54 victory by No. 10 Kansas at sixth-ranked Baylor ...
Overview: Baylor desperately wants to be considered a top-10 team. It has the players and the voter-supported ranking. What it doesn't have is the monumental victories it takes to legitimize the program. And that didn't change Wednesday night.
Tenth-ranked Kansas (19-5, 9-2 Big 12) came into the Ferrell Center and easily dispatched the No. 6 Bears. That's 17 consecutive home losses to top-10 teams over the past nine seasons for the Bears (21-3, 8-3). The last top-10 team the Bears beat at home? Yep, Kansas way back in 2001.
A repeat became out of the question quickly in the second half. After being down as many as 10 in the first, the Jayhawks went on a 21-4 run to start the second half. Baylor, plagued by a porous zone defense and a shoot-first, pass-second offense, never crawled within single digits. The Jayhawks dropped a heartbreaker at rival Missouri on Saturday, but have not had back-to-back losses since January 2006. They still don't.
Turning point: It went from bad to worse, quickly, for Baylor in the second half. After getting down eight points (40-32), Baylor coach Scott Drew called a timeout to try and turn things around. It didn't work. Baylor turned the ball over on the inbounds play, allowing Thomas Robinson to score as he was being fouled; he would make the free throw to put Kansas up 43-32. On the play, Baylor's Quincy Miller was called for a technical foul for throwing an elbow. Kansas hit one of two, got the ball back, knocked down a 3 and was up 47-32 with 16:10 left in the second half.
Star of the game: KU center Jeff Withey exceeded his career high in points (15) with 17 just in the first half. He finished with 25 points, five rebounds and three blocks. The 7-foot center was allowed to ram through the lane and receive passes from a cutting Tyshawn Taylor. Very few of the shots were contested, and on those that were, Withey still went strong to the rim and found himself at the foul line.
What the win means for Kansas: The Jayhawks have had a stranglehold on the Big 12 for most of the past decade. It doesn't appear as if they are ready to loosen their grip. The win over the Bears put Kansas back into a tie for first with Missouri. The victory also means that KU's chances at grabbing a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament are still alive.
What the loss means for Baylor: The Bears' run in the top 10 might be coming to an end. The No. 6 team still only has three losses, but two of the three have been by double-digits to Kansas, a team currently ranked four spots below the Bears. The loss also almost certainly knocks BU out of contention for the top seed in the Big 12 tournament. Kansas and Missouri will vie for that spot.
Up next: Baylor visits No. 4 Missouri (22-2, 9-2) on Saturday afternoon. The Bears dropped a one-point game to the Tigers at the Ferrell Center in January. Kansas has a slightly easier task as it hosts Oklahoma State (12-12, 5-6) on Saturday.