Baylor defeats Kansas, 77-69

  • 8 p.m., Jan. 18, 2021
  • The Ferrell Center, Waco, TX

Monday, January 18, 2021

No. 9 Kansas can’t overcome slow start in 77-69 loss to No. 2 Baylor

Baylor guard Jared Butler, center, scores over Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot, left, and guard Marcus Garrett, right, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Waco, Texas. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP)

Baylor guard Jared Butler, center, scores over Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot, left, and guard Marcus Garrett, right, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Waco, Texas. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP)


In the kind of top-10 showdown that dozens of Kansas basketball teams have played and thrived in for years, the ninth-ranked Jayhawks never led on Monday night, falling to No. 2 Baylor 77-69 in Waco, Texas.

Behind a monster night from All-American candidate Jared Butler (30 points and eight assists on 10-of-14 shooting, including 7-of-9 from 3-point range), the Bears raced out to early leads of 11-2 and 16-5, making the game look easy for large stretches of the first half while making life miserable for Kansas.

“It’s hard to come back against a team like them when you start how we started,” KU sophomore Christian Braun said after the setback.

Monday’s loss, which snapped KU’s streak of 18 consecutive Big Monday victories, marked the first time since the 2012-13 season that Kansas has lost two consecutive conference games.

That team lost three in a row in February of 2013 before regrouping and winning 12 of its next 13 games to advance to the Sweet 16.

After a rough first half that saw KU shoot 38% and get outscored 20-10 in the paint, the Jayhawks (10-4 overall, 4-3 Big 12) showed signs of life early in the second half.

Junior guard Ochai Agbaji, who scored just three points in Monday’s first half, knocked in a pair of 3-pointers to open the second and then threw down a pair of monster dunks in transition to give the Jayhawks a lift.

Agbaji was denied a third dunk when BU guard Matthew Mayer rose to meet him high above the rim on another dunk attempt. Mayer was hit with the foul, Agbaji drained both free throws and Baylor’s lead was down to nine.

Agbaji’s aggressive play and added intensity did not stop there. He helped spark an 8-0 Kansas run that cut the Baylor lead to five (56-51) midway through the second half.

The Bears (13-0, 6-0) responded to the KU surge with a 9-0 run of their own to calmly reclaim control heading into the game’s final seven minutes.

Monday marked the second consecutive game in which Kansas found itself staring up at a sizable second-half double-digit deficit that required maximum effort to come back.

While that might have been manageable in last week’s road loss at Oklahoma State, coming all the way back against the nation’s No. 2-ranked team was a different story.

KU kept trying though, again cutting the Baylor lead to five (65-60) on a hammer dunk by Jalen Wilson with 3:18 to play, but, once again, it was Butler who calmed the waters for the Bears, draining his seventh 3-pointer of the night on the very next possession to put Baylor back up eight.

“That’s something we can walk out feeling better about,” Braun said of his team’s ability to fight back. “But that’s not a position we want to be familiar with.”

While KU’s 3-point shooting and an array of second-half dunks helped spark KU’s near-comeback, the Jayhawks’ second half defense may have played the biggest role.

Kansas forced Baylor into 12 second-half turnovers and several of them led directly to points for Kansas.

“We started to get some stops, some easy baskets (and got) it going in the right direction,” senior forward Mitch Lightfoot, who finished with eight points and four rebounds in 17 minutes on Monday.

Added KU coach Bill Self: “I’ll be honest, guys. I thought we played damn well in the second half. But they’re a bad, bad team to play from behind against.”

Self continued: "Let's not get this too twisted. Baylor's better than us right now. That doesn't mean that we can't beat anybody any night, but our margin for error isn't what their margin for error is right now. They've got a really good basketball team. And we've got a nice basketball team, a pretty good basketball team."

Braun (17 points) and Agbaji (16) combined to shoot 9-of-13 from 3-point range on Monday night, helping Kansas hit 58% in the second half.

But Baylor, which shot 54% from the game, had an answer for every KU run.

All of the things that Kansas was worried about with Baylor heading into the game showed up in the first five minutes.

Offensive rebounding, 3-point shooting, perimeter depth and BU’s tenacity inside helped the Bears come screaming out of the gate, continuing a trend of slow starts for the Jayhawks in recent weeks.

Adding to the rough start for the road team was the fact that junior forward David McCormack picked up his second foul at the 17:02 mark of the first half. That sent McCormack to the bench. Senior reserve Mitch Lightfoot checked into the game. And the Jayhawks’ challenge grew even tougher without the player who had led their offense in recent games and is their biggest body and best rebounder.

Predictably, things only got worse from there. A couple of careless KU turnovers led to easy baskets for Baylor, and the Bears built a lead of as many as 16 points (37-21) in the first half, with Butler leading the way with 15 first-half points.

KU opened the game 3-of-8 from the floor (1-of-4 from 3-point range) and turned it over four times in the game’s first eight minutes.

Baylor, meanwhile, made seven of its first 13 shots (54%) and scored 10 of its first 18 points in the paint.

Even with that, four first-half 3-pointers from Braun helped keep Kansas close and KU actually had a chance to cut Baylor’s lead to as few as six midway through the first half. But Baylor senior Mark Vital’s run-down block of a Dajuan Harris dunk attempt kept the BU lead at eight and sparked a 7-0 Baylor run that allowed the home team to regain complete control.

It was during that stretch that Braun got hot, hitting three of his four first-half triples and scoring 11 KU points in a row to help keep the Jayhawks alive.

Braun had 14 points at the half and KU’s next highest scorer to that point was Lightfoot, with four. Lightfoot nearly made it six while cutting the Baylor halftime lead to 11, but his turn-around hustle jumper as the halftime buzzer sounded was ruled a fraction of a second too late and BU led 41-28 at the break.

Up next for the Jayhawks is another lengthy break before heading to Norman, Okla., on Saturday for an 11 a.m. rematch with the Sooners, who played Kansas to a 63-59 game in Allen Fieldhouse 10 days ago.


Steve Zimmerman 10 months, 1 week ago

I love how guys just kept coming back fighting till the end. CB is money from downtown. I knew he'd find his ways. I'm really glad how we played together. Marcus' TOs were bad, but at least he found open men 8 times. This game has proven that modern bball played by athletic players beats centuries old high-low. We're able to neutralize their offense with our gritty defense. Can't do much about Butler.

I see more positives in this game, no matter what. I'm really really glad coach finally realize that Lightfoot can be useful more than just passing the ball from low post or setting high screen for the guards. That guy is a monster if you can design plays for him. Just like what we watched tonight. And Lightfoot, please don't stop, keep dunking like that, always move around to get open. You're better than just a passer or screener. You've shown Dave how to finish strong!! We saw in the first few minutes David's slip screen turned into a TO instead. That can be corrected in so many ways. Our bigs can be just as productive as Doke's low-post if coach designs the right plays for them, especially against more athletic team.

I like Agbaji's aggressiveness. First dunk for Wilson!! He'll have to figure out how to change pace to the basket against quicker defenders. Enaruna is ready!! Play him more! This is the best production from our bench so far!! Harris, better come ready to play harder than that!

Vital is nothing but a flopper. He's B12 best defender? What a joke!!! There were so many moving screens by BU not being called out. I think we can compete better, especially if the team can pass, move more, with or without ball, screen more... Here's to a better and better KUCMB!!!!!! Rock chalk!!!!!!

Jim Stauffer 10 months, 1 week ago

What I see is not necessarily a good sign if you consider how far this team will go. But as noted above, this is a gritty team that plays hard and that is the best thing about them. We are undersized, and lacking in the athleticism that the current game demands to be able to compete with the top 10 teams in the country. Even OSU is more athletic than we. We can improve our ball handling which would get the ball to the right guy at the right time. That will make us a better team, but as long as Marcus dribbles as excessively as he is now, that will not likely happen. This team could best offset the lack of athleticism by becoming a great passing team. That is more likely to happen with Harris at the point than Marcus.

Barry Weiss 10 months, 1 week ago

As Steve and Jim mention, we really had some fight last night. I've never seen Ochai look P O'd and really take it to the rim like that. That junk yard dog attitude is the only way any team can get to the next level.

Carolyn Hunzicker 10 months, 1 week ago

Garrett is not what we need at point. He dribbles way too much and the team gets lost. He's a very good player, but not as point. Give it to Harris and let Garrett do his thing, Oh put Wilson or Braum on the bench Neither one knows anything about playing defense a big joke' .

Chad Smith 10 months, 1 week ago

I really thought we had a chance when we cut it to 5 with about 3 min left. Honestly, if we stop shooting ourselves in the foot, then we probably could have won the game. Too many silly turnovers and easy buckets for Baylor that supplemented Butler's great night. I mean, there wasn't much you could do about Butler, he's one of the best players in the nation and every time he shot it you just felt like it was going in. He made some difficult shots. Just have to tip your cap.

But the Garrett turnover issue is really starting to be a sore spot. I'm not interested in going into the dynamics of whether he's suited to be a PG or if they should play Harris more, etc because at this point it's clear that self is going to let him handle the ball a lot regardless. When he is asked to break down a decent defender at the top of the key his dribbling is not requisite to do so. He's not Dotson in that way. SO I'm not sure what the solution is other than him being more mindful and careful with the ball when he's asked to initiate the offense. That along with some questionable passes by the squad in general

I really do think it's a matter of limiting mistakes and keep forcing teams to play off schedule. We are close, but not quite there yet.

I did see some dog in KU and that gave me optimism. We just have to clean it up and finish at the rim better as well, especially on offensive rebounds.

Keep grinding.

Jeff Kallmeyer 10 months, 1 week ago

9 TO's from MG & DM is unacceptable & shows they're mind isn't totally in the game. Coincidentally, our biggest weaknesses are at PG & Center. We're also missing a couple bruisers with body mass who can get physical. We are a finesse team w/ very little physicality. We have 4 starters all about the same size...

G – Marcus Garrett, 6-5, 195, Sr.

G – Ochai Agbaji, 6-5, 210, Jr.

G – Christian Braun, 6-6, 205, Soph.

G – Jalen Wilson, 6-7, 190, RS-Fr.

We need a Mark Vital-type physical player on our team. Dang, I miss Doke & Dot!

Benjamin Shear 10 months, 1 week ago

Obiter Dictum:

*Can we safely assume that Garrett is no longer being "watched" for the pre-season Naismith watch list? He is a good player, but he's not the star many thought he could be this season. The box score makes him look better than it really was. Not only did he have 5 turnovers, but they came at really bad times and were mostly unforced. He needs to let the game come to him, and not force things.

*Braun came to play and you could see in his eyes that he wanted to compete and win. Let's give major credit to this team for fighting until the end. Baylor played National Championship caliber basketball in the first half, no one can compete with that level of play. But the team never gave up. I don' believe in moral victories in sports, but let's just appreciate the fight we saw.

*Ochai Agbaji is so athletic. He had a couple dunks where it looked like he was going to murder the rim. He had a terrible first half, and we won't win games if he doesn't show up for a half, but he has to be one of the most athletic players in D1 this year.

*Wilson also struggled, but he shows flashes of brilliance. I hope he continues to develop and get experience.

*Garrett and DMack had 9 turn overs between the two of them. Baylor is incredible at defense, but it looked like many of those TOs were just carelessness with the ball. I really hope HCBS continues to focus on taking care of the ball. Perhaps it was just the Baylor pressure that got to them, but that is what separates conference champs from chumps.

Nick Kramer 10 months, 1 week ago

I suppose it's advantageous to switch all the ball screens, but it does frequently result in Braun or Wilson matched up against a smaller, quicker guard who beats them off the dribble. David Mac is just not able to hedge/recover or block shots well enough to compensate. Hopefully Harris and Thompson will eventually become penetrators that pose the same problem for other teams.

On a minor pet peeve note, I've heard Bilas gripe about 'flopping' numerous times now. Someone remind him that the post defender is entitled to his place on the floor and shouldn't have to weigh 265 to hold his spot from the offensive players 'banging'. When the offense initiates hard contact, the only way to draw the correct call of charging is to fall straight backward. He doesn't seem to take issue with a charge call when someone steps in the path of a driving guard.

Bryce Landon 10 months, 1 week ago

Aside from the Gonzaga loss, things were going so well for the first part of the season. We had a comeback win over Kentucky and a hard-fought battle with Creighton where we came out on top in an all-time college basketball classic.

Then came the Texas game, where the Longhorns nuked us at home. And now nothing feels right. We've now lost three of our last five games, and in that stretch we've only looked good against Texas Christian when we thumped them by 29. It's almost as if that loss to UT broke the Jayhawks' spirit and killed their love of playing basketball. These Jayhawks don't learn from their previous failings, they don't play defense with any consistency or desire to make the other team play poorly, and they are not getting better as the season continues.

I could very easily see this KU team going 9-9 in Big 12 play if they continue in their present course. And I could very easily see KU missing out on the Sweet 16 for the second NCAA Tournament in a row.

Tony Bandle 10 months, 1 week ago

Bryce, my friend, do you honestly see this team as having a strong chance at a Sweet Sixteen berth? I think it will boil down more to the match-ups than the ability of this year's Hawks....weak to fairly competitive opponents, they go...very competitive to strong opponents, they don't.

I do agree with Steve and Jim, however, in that while playing in their gym with Butler going "All-World", KU kept them under their average and finished closer than anybody else and, with some luck, could have actually won!!

Benjamin Shear 10 months, 1 week ago

It's also the first time, since 2008 I believe, where KU lost two conference games in a row. For the NCAA tournament, KU will be a scary team for many. The reason they will be scary is you just don't know which team will show up. It could be the UK killing team, or the team that played Texas. Right now, we don't know which team it is and I think HCBS is still figuring out what works as well.

Sean Doherty 10 months, 1 week ago

Bill Self has reached the point where he can't keep KU relevant anymore. It's time for new blood and move away from the Adidas scandal. He's lost his edge and he is done. He has no incentive to produce at 100 percent. He's set too many records, won a national championship, and gets paid millions and millions a year. He can't catch coach K records. He might as well help himself and KU bball. Go to the NBA make more money for himself and let KU hire some really good new blood who has all the talent and ambition Bill Self had 20 years ago. KU needs new talent at all coaching positions.

Sean Doherty 10 months, 1 week ago

Bill Self has reached the point where he can't keep KU relevant anymore. It's time for new blood and move away from the Adidas scandal. He's lost his edge and he is done. He has no incentive to produce at 100 percent. He's set too many records, won a national championship, is already in the hall of fame,, and gets paid millions and millions a year. He can't catch coach K records. He might as well help himself and KU bball. Go to the NBA make more money for himself and let KU hire some really good new blood who has all the talent and ambition Bill Self had 20 years ago. KU needs new talent at all coaching positions.

Joe Baker 10 months, 1 week ago

All credit once again to a very good BU team.
We’ve all seen this before many times from Baylor. The question isn’t are they good but can they go the distance? They always sprint early and run out around the conference tourney. We’ll see if they have stamina and consistency.

Allin Herring 10 months, 1 week ago

We saw last night the real D Mack when he plays against a team with a talented center. He is great against lesser centers. Please tell Self thatmHarrett is NOT a Point Guard. Not even close. We need a leader and go to guy on this,team and Harrett is not the one.

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