Thursday, February 20, 2020

Third-ranked Jayhawks well aware of what’s at stake this weekend at No. 1 Baylor

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) gets tangled with Baylor guard Jared Butler (12) and Baylor forward Tristan Clark (25) while competing for a rebound during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) gets tangled with Baylor guard Jared Butler (12) and Baylor forward Tristan Clark (25) while competing for a rebound during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has a checklist of things he’d like to see in Saturday’s matchup with No. 1 Baylor that are different from the 67-55 loss his team suffered at Allen Fieldhouse in mid-January.

“I would like to run good offense, I’d like to attack them better, I’d like to not have live-ball turnovers that lead to 20 points. There’s a lot of things we didn’t do in the first game,” Self explained on Thursday before KU’s practice. “But it wasn’t as much what we didn’t do as what they did do.”

The most glaring of all of Self’s memories from the first meeting was the turnovers.

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With the game of the year between No. 1 Baylor and No. 3 Kansas now right around the corner — 11 a.m. Saturday on ESPN in Waco, Texas — Matt Tait, Benton Smith and Shane Jackson dive into the matchup with keys for both teams, things to watch, a final ...

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In the January matchup between Big 12 powers, the Bears (24-1 overall, 13-0 Big 12) forced the Jayhawks (23-3, 12-1) into 14 turnovers and scored 21 points off of those KU miscues.

Many of them came on a 22-4 Baylor run to close the first half that put the Bears up by 13 at halftime and inspired Self to use the word “debacle” to describe his team’s play late in the first half.

“I think we had some unforced errors that led to some baskets,” Self said of the first matchup. “But I also think they guarded us well and took us out of any rhythm we had.”

The Jayhawks, meanwhile, forced just five Baylor turnovers and scored just 2 points off them.

Senior center Udoka Azubuike and sophomore point guard Devon Dotson also both pointed to their team’s turnovers in the first meeting, saying that Kansas had to take better care of the basketball this time around if it hoped to leave Waco, Texas, with a victory and its Big 12 title hopes in tact.

And while the Jayhawks have gone over all of the specifics of their modified game plan in meetings and practices this week, Self said his players did not need any kind of reminder about the magnitude of Saturday’s game.

“I don’t have to do that,” Self said. “They know. They know how many games are left in league, and I’m not approaching it like (it’s for the) league race. I’m approaching it like an opportunity to play a terrific team on a big stage away from home.”

Kansas is 0-2 against top-10 teams this season (Duke and Baylor), but the Jayhawks have won 20 of their last 24 regular-season games and eight of their last nine true road games against teams ranked in the AP top 10.

KU is 8-16 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25. But the Jayhawks are 6-5 against top-ranked foes since the 1989-90 season and are 3-2 versus No. 1 in the Self era.

Kansas has not played a No. 1-ranked team on the road since March 10, 1958, when the Jayhawks knocked off then-No. 1 Kansas State, 61-44 in Manhattan.

Baylor, meanwhile, enters this one riding a Big 12-record, 23-game winning streak. The Bears’ win Tuesday over Oklahoma moved them past the 1996-97 Kansas team that won 22 in a row for longest winning streak by a Big 12 team.

Azubuike and Dotson had slightly different opinions on what Saturday’s game meant and how they were preparing for it.

“We lost to them earlier in the season,” Dotson said. “So that has something to do with (adding) a little more edge and motivation.”

Both players said the general feeling inside the KU locker room was one of focus and excitement for what is being billed as one of the games of the year in college basketball this season.

“I guess you could say a lot’s on the line this game,” Dotson said. “But we’re going to prepare like it’s another game. We can’t let the emotion get the best of us. We have to just play our game, (do) what we like to do and just execute our game plan. … I feel like we’re all hungry in the locker room and competitive and want to win.”

Added Azubuike, who scored 6 points and grabbed 11 boards while blocking seven shots against the Bears in January: “I mean, for me it’s just a game. You just have to go out there and play. I’m not going to think about it much.”


Mike Riches 1 year, 2 months ago

For those planning to go to this game, any advice on what time to arrive? I know College Gameday is there right before the game. I'm assuming most tickets are general admission, so first come, first serve?

Dane Pratt 1 year, 2 months ago

We have lots of conference titles, Baylor does not. I think the game is way more important to them than it is to us. As long as we can compete with them for 40 minutes, even if it results in a loss, we are still in the scheme of things when it comes to the big picture.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 2 months ago

You can sense that this game is personal to HOF coach. Drew has figured out a way to beat him and his motion offense. I've been talking about it for some time. Let's see what this modified gameplan is going to be. It'll be a very interesting game. I expect a new kind of X and Os from HOF coach. A new gameplan. Because BU now has a perfect team that can destroy the infamous coach BS motion offense and feeding the post play. BU has athleticism and ball handlers. It's going to be an uphill task to beat them. NCAA trophy will surely be ours if we can win this game in their arena.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 2 months ago

should be an epic game, a real NCAA final four type game. Let's go Jayhawks!!

Steve Quatrocky 1 year, 2 months ago

Devon knows achieving his goal of winning a championship at KU is at stake and he wants a ring before the NBA. Not to mention Pride in not getting swept, and revenge for getting beat at home. Rock Chalk, we got this.

Blake Brown 1 year, 2 months ago

Defense will determine the outcome of this game. Also, taking the other team out of what they want to do and feel comfortable doing is a key. Obviously, making shots including free throws is a big part of the equation as well.

When can we lose that all turnovers are "forced". KU turned the ball over without any defensive pressure for at least half of the TOs in the game against Baylor.

I have a feeling. We win this game.

Rock Chalk!

Robert Robinson 1 year, 2 months ago

Dane, we as fans have lots of conference titles. 9 players on this team have 0. They better be hungry

Dane Pratt 1 year, 2 months ago

Ya, good point. I won't be too disappointed if we lose unless we a) get blown out or b) lose a close game in a painful sort of way like we did against Nova.

Gary McCullough 1 year, 2 months ago

A huge difference between Saturday's game and the previous encounter with the Bears in AFH was the absence of Dotson due to the hip pointer. I expect a healthy Dotson will be a game changer for this match-up.

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 2 months ago

It's not if we win or lose, we just need to try our best. In the end, we are all winners. What's most important is just feeling good about ourselves.

Dane Pratt 1 year, 2 months ago

Wonder how many times we are going to play Baylor this year. In 1988 we played K-State four times and the last game determined who would go to the final four. If we play Baylor four times this year the fourth game will likely be in the final four and possibly the title game.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm afraid without skillful players, no one could beat BU. What I mean is they are athletics, well trained, can defend any kinds of offense. A good match for them would be the same kind of team, with kids that know how to react and respond instinctively to any kind of situation on offense and defense. Players that know not only how to defend well, but also know when to pass, when to set screen for others - We've got only one: Garrett. Our players and coaches are all about X and O's - that's not enough to beat BU.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 2 months ago

Yep, agreed. And I did mention about pick and roll. But I'm glad we won. I'm glad I was wrong!

Rob Byrd 1 year, 2 months ago

Glad you weren't coaching the kids there, "Negative Nancy"! Just trolling ya Steve.😉 But, you are generally more optimistic in your posts.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 2 months ago

We're lucky to have Garrett & Dok & team! How about that, Rob?

Rob Byrd 1 year, 2 months ago

We are in agreement, Steve. 👍🏾😉 Rock Chalk!!😎

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