Top-5 slayers: No. 3 Kansas outlasts No. 4 Baylor, 67-65
WACO, Texas – Kansas basketball remained unbeaten against top-five teams this season (4-0) with a gutsy 67-65 victory over No. 4 Baylor on Saturday afternoon at Ferrell Center.
Senior center Landen Lucas, regularly lauded as KU’s “glue guy,” came up with a huge offensive rebound on KU’s last possession of the game and went up for a contested layup, drawing a foul. Lucas, a 59 percent shooter at the line this season, made both free throws to give Kansas a 67-65 lead with 11 seconds remaining, putting the final touches on an 8-0 KU run to end the game.
Lucas finished with eight points and seven rebounds, including six offensive boards. National Player of the Year front-runner Frank Mason III registered his 15th 20-point game of the season with a game-high 23 points, including a perfect 8-for-8 shooting mark at the free throw line, and eight assists. Freshman Josh Jackson scored 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting with four blocks.
Kansas (24-3, 12-2 Big 12) limited its turnovers to nine, including just two in the second half, and shot 80 percent (16-for-20) at the free throw line.
“One thing that we did do – we competed, we guarded, and we rebounded,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “The stats say Baylor had a 35-27 advantage in rebounding, but that is misleading because of their eight dead-ball rebounds. We didn’t have any dead-ball rebounds. To only turn it over nine times and to win despite shooting the ball so poorly against the No. 4 team in the country says a lot about the makeup of our team.”
Baylor falls to 22-5 and 9-5 in league play after starting the season 15-0 and elevating to its first-ever No. 1 ranking on Jan. 9. BU forward Johnathan Motley scored a team-high 19 points with nine rebounds.
The Bears led by 12 with just under a minute remaining the first half. KU’s eventual 12-point rally gives the Jayhawks three double-figure comeback victories in the last four games.
KU committed two of its near-season-low nine turnovers in its first two possessions during a slow offensive start to the contest. After being fouled on a drive, junior guard Devonte’ Graham went to the free throw line to score KU’s first points of the day, making it a 3-2 BU advantage.
In what would be his first of eight assists on the day, Mason drove across the lane, stopped in his tracks to find Carlton Bragg Jr., for a wide-open dunk before the first media timeout. Although Mason continued to drop dimes all day, it was Bragg’s first and only bucket of the game.
During the first media timeout, Baylor fans in attendance dawned their bright yellow give-away shirts to “neon-out” the Ferrell Center.
With Baylor leading, 15-6, at the 12:52 mark of the first half, Kansas turned up its swarming defense – forcing turnovers on back-to-back Baylor possession to spark a 9-0 run in the next three minutes of regulation.
Mason connected with Jackson for an alley-oop to bring KU within two points, 15-13, at the 11:10 mark. Mason then found a cutting Lucas in the lane for an easy layup to tie the game at 15 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
The first half proved to be a half of runs as Baylor responded with an 8-0 streak, including two 3-pointers by Manu Lecomte, which forced a KU timeout with 7:54 remaining before halftime.
Coming out of the KU timeout, junior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk slashed the lane and dished a pass to Lucas on the opposite block for a layup to stop BU’s 8-0 run. Later, Mason quickly turned a defensive rebound into a fast-break alley-oop opportunity for Jackson, which cut KU’s deficit to three.
Baylor’s Lecomte made a jumper with 55 seconds remaining in the first half to extend the Bears’ lead to 12 points, 35-23 – BU’s largest lead of the game.
Kansas ended the first half with back-to-back 3-pointers by Mason and Jackson. Mason drained his first 3-pointer of the day with 38 seconds remaining in the half. On the ensuing Baylor possession, Graham drew an offensive foul by Motley to give KU possession for the last shot of the half. Mason took the KU inbounds pass and charged downhill towards the basket, but dished it in reverse to Jackson at the top of the key for a 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer.
Baylor went into the locker room with a 35-29 lead after KU’s quick 6-0 run in less than a minute. Mason already had five assists at the break, while Jackson led KU with nine first-half points.
BU entered Saturday averaging 6.1 3-pointers made per game this season, but in the first half alone the Bears made five treys.
In many ways, Saturday’s game mirrored Kansas and Baylor’s first meeting of the season when BU went into halftime with a 34-28 lead over the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse. KU would recover to score 45 points in the second half on Feb. 1 – foreshadowing what was to come for KU during Saturday’s second half.
The second half began in a flurry as both teams traded baskets before Kansas went on an 11-0 run in a span of three minutes to take a 52-47 lead with nearly 10 minutes remaining.
Mason made his eighth-straight free throw of the day to bring KU within one, 58-57, with 5:19 remaining. The pair of free throws put Mason above 20 points for the 15th time this season.
But BU’s King McClure made a trey on the opposite end, giving the Bears a 61-57 advantage with five minutes remaining. Motley put Kansas in a six-point hole after making a midrange jumper before the final media timeout.
But Baylor wouldn’t make a field goal for the remaining four minutes of regulation as Kansas rattled off a 10-2 run to notch its fourth win over a top-five team this season.
Coming out of the final media timeout, Mason make a jumper at the 3:55 mark to break a six-minute field goal drought for KU. After Baylor made a pair of free throws, Lucas pulled down a missed 3-pointer by Graham. The crucial offensive board allowed Mason to reset the offensive setup Jackson for a dunk to cut KU’s deficit to two, 65-63.
Despite a poor shooting day – 1-for-12 from the field – Graham made a pair of free throws when his team needed it the most to tie the contest at 65 with 2:16 remaining after being fouled on a drive.
Down the stretch, tension filled the air with 23.7 seconds remaining. Graham missed a perimeter shot from KU’s designed play drawn up by Coach Self, but Lucas came down with another huge offensive board and went right back up for a layup, but got fouled with 11.5 seconds remaining.
Lucas made both free throws to give KU the 67-65 go-ahead lead. The Bears called one last timeout to gather themselves for the last shot, but a jumper by Lecomte missed the mark to chalk-up the victory to the Jayhawks.
Kansas returns home to host TCU on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m., on ESPN2. KU will then play at Texas on Saturday, Feb. 25, on ESPN and host Oklahoma for Senior Night on ESPN Big Monday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. KU concludes the regular season at Oklahoma State on Saturday, March 4, at 5 p.m., on ESPN.
KU STARTERS (CONSECUTIVE / SEASON / CAREER STARTS):
Sr. G Frank Mason III (101 / 27 / 104)
Jr. G Devonte’ Graham (34 / 27 / 63)
Jr. G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (17 / 17 / 23)
Fr. G Josh Jackson (27 / 27 / 27)
Sr. C Landen Lucas (16 / 21 / 54)
- Kansas sweeps the regular-season series against Baylor, improving to 29-4 all-time against the Bears.
- Kansas is 12-2 against Baylor on the road in Ferrell Center.
- Kansas has won 10-striaght games over Baylor, a streak that started Jan. 20, 2014.
- KU is 25-2 against BU during Big 12 regular-season play.
- Baylor’s Scott Drew falls to 3-21 against the Jayhawks.
- Makes Kansas 24-3 overall, giving the Jayhawks 24 wins for the 12th-consecutive season, starting in 2005-06.
- Gives KU 12 league wins for the 17th-straight season, starting in 2000-01.
- Makes Kansas 8-1 in true road games and 12-2 in games not played in Allen Fieldhouse this season.
- Improves Bill Self to 409-86 at KU and 616-191 overall.
- Makes KU 2,210-839 all-time.
- TOP-FIVE WIN: Kansas improves to 4-0 against teams ranked in the top-five of the Associated Press (AP) poll this season. Kansas features a .900 winning percentage against top-five matchups (9-1) under Bill Self; it is the highest winning percentage against AP top-5 matchups of any coach at one school in NCAA Division I history.
- BIG 12 STANDINGS: First-place Kansas (12-2) now holds a three-game lead over Baylor (9-5) and West Virginia (9-5) in the Big 12 Conference standings. With four games remaining, Kansas is one win away from clinching at least a share of an NCAA-record 13th-straight regular-season conference title.
- REBOUNDING: While Baylor held a 35-27 advantage in rebounding, the Bears benefited from eight dead-ball rebounds while Kansas had zero. In live situations, Kansas and Baylor had an even 27-to-27 rebounding distribution.
- POOR SHOOTING: For the second-straight game, Kansas won despite a poor shooting percentage. Kansas defeated No. 9 West Virginia on Monday with a 34.4 shooting percentage, and defeated No. 4 Baylor on Saturday despite a 41.8 shooting percentage. Both marks were lower than their opponent’s, respectively. Kansas is now 4-1 (.800) this season when posting a lower shooting percentage than its opponent, which is an outlier to KU’s 25-51 (.352) record during the Bill Self era in those games.
- HALFTIME DEFICIT: Kansas trailed at halftime, 35-29, marking the seventh time in its last 11 outings it has gone into the intermission with a deficit. Kansas improves to 8-1 in games with a halftime deficit this season.
- FREE THROWS: The Jayhawks shot 80 percent (16-of-20) at the free throw line. KU is now shooting 70.8 percent at the charity stripe in Big 12 play. In nonconference games KU had a 58.9 free throw percentage.
Kansas head coach Bill Self
On designing the perfect team in a lab:
“I would have two 7-footers and a couple other things but as far as a mental toughness team, I would take this team and go to the house. Tonight I think we’re down six with 2:46 left coming out of the timeout and we’ve got to have a great possessions every time. These guys did it and of course we defended unbelievable down the stretch.”
On the second half’s defense:
“I thought rebounding in the first half was atrocious to start the game. In the second half I thought we did a lot of good things defensively. Even when they made some plays, I think it was more scouting report that allowed them to make the plays as opposed to us breaking down. I didn’t think we had a ton of breakdowns the second half. Offensively, we played really well in the second half. We shot 48 percent in the second half, which seemed to me we got a lot of open 3-pointers. It just goes to show you never know when other guys will make plays.”
On Josh Jackson’s defensive efforts:
“I thought Josh had another good complete game with the exception of rebounding. I didn’t think he rebounded the ball today, which is obvious by his stats, but he shoots 50 percent with 16 points, two assists, four blocks, I thought he did a little bit of everything. We asked him to guard a seven footer and he’s used to guarding guards, so I thought he did a really nice job.”
Freshman G Josh Jackson
On the difficulty of guarding Jonathan Motley:
“He’s a great rebounder so often times when the shot goes up, it’s hard to box him out. He’ll get a lot of easy points cleaning up offensive rebounds. It’s definitely a full time job guarding him, you can never take a break.”
On his team’s effort in the last two games:
“It just shows us what we can do. We’re really good and we’re even better when we’re at our best. The thing I like about us is that I think we have a bunch of winners on our team. Nobody’s a quitter, everyone keeps fighting and we all believe in each other.”
Senior G Frank Mason
On the impact of Monday’s game on today’s performance:
“We were down more than that last game against West Virginia and I think we just showed toughness and leadership as far as the older guys. The younger guys did a great job of following and executing down the stretch.”
On the key to the game:
“Defense was the key to the game. We weren’t sound in the first half and they out-rebounded us by a lot, so we wanted to change that in the second half.”
Baylor head coach Scott Drew
“I thought it was just another Big 12 game. It comes down to one possession. Our crowd was tremendous. The atmosphere was great. They made one more play than we did. In our last three close games with Kansas, Lucas has come up with the big rebounds in the last three minutes and we haven’t been able to keep him off the glass when we needed to do that, so he deserves a lot of credit. I thought our guys really competed. We put ourselves in position to win, fully expected to win, and they made one more play than us. Big 12 basketball.”
On Baylor’s turnovers:
“I think it was both [forced and unforced]. There are some things that we could’ve done different, definitely. They got some deflections. I think they got to a lot of loose balls. We got to do a better job of coming up with those 50-50 balls. Especially them going out of bounds. It seemed like every time it went out of bounds, they were able to save it when they threw it back in. So we got to do a better job of coming up with those balls, because at the end of the day one possession games, those all matter.”
On where they go from here:
“I think right now we’re all pretty upset. The thing is tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities. We’ve had great leadership all year long, and the upperclassmen make sure we’re ready to go. We control what we can control and that is we try to put ourselves in the best position. We all want a conference championship, but I think everybody on our team definitely wants an NCAA Final Four Championship even more. So that’s what we have to gear for, get better for. We look forward to that opportunity.”
Baylor junior F Johnathan Motley
On the defense they put on him:
“They did a good job coming with hot hands and just flooding the paint. I think I got a few charges too, so they did a good job of just making it tough on me. Just finishing and always having a body there when I drive is just one of those things you got to figure out. Just make better plays next time. Jump stop.”
On the outcome:
“It’s really disappointing, especially when you kind of have them on the ropes. We were up a couple points. Coach Drew stressed that offensive rebounds were their strength in this type of situation. We didn’t execute right. We didn’t put a body on them. He knocked down both free throws. We talked about it in film, but it’s just one of those things where you just got to go out and execute.”
Baylor sophomore Guard Jake Lindsey
On how they recovered from Kansas’ run:
“I think we just bucked down and got some stops. We made Frank take tough ones. He’s a good player, so he’s going to get pretty good shots, so you have to make them tough. I think JMot (Jonathan Motley) did a pretty good job. Manu (Lecomte) made a shot, and I know he had a big three when we took care of the defensive glass. But we didn’t sustain it when we really needed to.
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