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Postgame Report Card: Kansas 78, Baylor 70

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Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) puts in a bucket over Baylor forward Flo Thamba (0) during the first half, Saturday, March 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) puts in a bucket over Baylor forward Flo Thamba (0) during the first half, Saturday, March 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 78-70 win over Baylor on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: B

Baylor’s zone and its players’ ability to get back in transition made it nearly impossible for KU to play with any pace in the first half. Still, the Jayhawks looked comfortable in the half court more often than not.

The problem in the first half was KU missed plenty of very makable shots.

The Jayhawks shot 41.4% in the first half, while knocking in 3 of 7 from 3-point range and 5 of 6 at the foul line.

A focused start to the second half set the stage for a KU victory, though, as the Jayhawks opened on an 8-0 run and scored three of their baskets off layups.

KU shot 47 percent in the second half, and scored 18 points in the paint.

Defense: B+

Baylor missed its first 10 attempts from 3-point range, but the Jayhawks weren’t able to put the visitors in any type of deficit early on, as the Bears never trailed by more than four during that stretch.

Still, KU hit the locker room at intermission with a slim 32-29 lead as the Bears had trouble both scoring in the paint (12 points) and hitting from downtown (2 for 15).

Other than Jared Butler’s 4-for-7 shooting in the half, the Bears were 6 for 21, and turned the ball over 8 times. But KU couldn’t keep Baylor from cashing in on offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes — 9 BU second-chance points on 7 offensive boards.

The Bears found more success from long range in the second half (4 for 16 on 3-pointers), but not enough to make a serious run.

They finished the loss shooting 35.8 percent from the field overall.

Frontcourt: A-

David McCormack came out killing the Baylor zone and its frontcourt defenders in the paint.

Oftentimes it was Dedric Lawson setting him up to do so, either with passing or spacing or screening or clearing space or a pass that led to another action. The two bigs working in tandem made the Bears’ defense far less effective.

McCormack scored 10 points in the first half and opened the second by making sure he was more involved on the glass and as a defender. The freshman registered his second consecutive double-figure performance for the first time all season, in contributing 12 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block.

After a 2-for-9 first half, Lawson was more impactful offensively in the second half, primarily by getting to the foul line, where he finished 11 for 12 en route to his 20th double-double of the year (23 points, 14 rebounds).

Backcourt: B-

Devon Dotson looked explosive in attacking the rim a couple of times in the first half, and on other occasions made determined drives into the teeth of BU’s zone to set up the passing KU needed to execute in the half court.

Although Dotson (15 points, 0 assists) didn’t do a ton of direct distributing for baskets, Quentin Grimes was most effective as a passer in the first half, when he dished 3 assists, including a perfectly placed lob for an Ochai Agbaji alley-oop jam.

Agbaji often asserted himself offensively, but his aggressiveness wasn’t paying off much of the afternoon, as he started 1 for 6 from the floor.

The energy and efforts of Agbaji (6 points, 3-for-10 shooting, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) on both ends of the floor kept made him a key contributor, though.

At times the same couldn’t be said of Grimes (9 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists). Fortunately for the freshman, who drew the ire of his head coach on a few occasions, he made up for that by knocking down 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

Bench: B-

Some Mitch Lightfoot (4 points, 4 boards) energy in the paint and some Marcus Garrett defense on the perimeter highlighted the efforts of KU’s substitutes.

As a major bonus for the Jayhawks, Garrett (7 points, 3 assists) knocked in a pair of 3-pointers.

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