Kansas defeats Baylor, 71-58

  • 7 p.m., Feb. 27, 2021
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, February 27, 2021

No. 17 Kansas knocks off No. 2 Baylor, 71-58, to end Big 12 play with big win

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) celebrates the Jayhawks' 71-58 win over Baylor on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) celebrates the Jayhawks' 71-58 win over Baylor on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.


When the 2020-21 men’s basketball schedule was finalized, Saturday’s home showdown with Baylor was a game that every Kansas fan circled immediately.

At the time, most thought the game could determine the Big 12 champion and be in the running for game of the year in college basketball.

It wasn’t quite that, but for No. 17 Kansas, the 71-58 win over the second-ranked and previously unbeaten Bears might have been even more meaningful. Because it came as the result of elite defense and all-out effort.

“That was a connected team out there tonight,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the victory. “We weren’t good tonight defensively; we were terrific.”

Energy had a lot to do with that. And it came from a number of places.

Self said that senior guard Marcus Garrett could have played all 40 minutes without even thinking about it because of how locked in he was on getting another crack at Baylor. And Garrett himself, who was the only Jayhawk to deliver a senior speech after KU’s 38th consecutive win on senior night, said he and his teammates talked about the energy in the building as they warmed up and dressed in the locker room.

“They were ready for today’s game,” Garrett said of the 2,500 fans who Self said made it feel like the place had reached its capacity of 16,300.

The Jayhawks were ready, too. And Self knew it from the jump.

“I think we were going to be turned up tonight if there were no fans there,” Self said. “We were excited to play Baylor.”

That showed during a blazing start that featured the Jayhawks (18-8 overall, 12-6 Big 12) jumping out to a 13-6 lead in the game’s first five or so minutes.

KU dictated play on both ends and set the tone for what would turn out to be a pretty miserable shooting night for the visitors. Baylor finished 23-of-66 overall (34.8%) and made just six of 26 3-pointers.

Had the Jayhawks made more, this one might have been a double-digit runaway much earlier. Instead, Kansas hit just three of 16 3-point shots of its own, which ensured that the game would be the grind-it-out battle that many expected most of the way.

“To think we can shoot the ball that poorly and still beat a team of that caliber by 13 speaks volumes about how we guarded and rebounded,” Self said.

Jalen Wilson finished with 14 rebounds. Garrett added seven. And the Jayhawks out-rebounded Baylor 48-28 as a team.

That led to fewer second-chance points for the Bears (18-1, 10-1), who, with the exception of a couple of mini-runs in both halves, never really found any kind of rhythm against the Jayhawks.

BU leading scorer Jared Butler fouled out and finished with just five points on 2-of-9 shooting, most of that the result of the way Garrett hounded him all night.

Stepping into Butler’s place as the game’s marquee scorer was Kansas junior David McCormack, who finished with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and showed from the opening possession that he was ready and willing to be a steadying influence for the Kansas offense in its biggest game of the season.

“He gave us an option when nothing was there offensively,” Garrett said of McCormack inside. “We could just throw it to him and he got us a bucket.”

Asked how he was able to find such success against one of the nation’s top defensive teams, McCormack again pointed to his mental approach.

“When you catch the ball, take a breath, see what's going on around you and then proceed to do what you need to do,” he said. “Everything becomes easier when you just kind of relax and let the game come to you.”

McCormack did plenty of that. And so did senior reserve Mitch Lightfoot when the KU starter sat because of foul trouble. Self said after the game that the Jayhawks all “played their tails off” and that everybody contributed to the massive win.

Lightfoot’s contributions came during a crucial stretch when McCormack went to the bench with four fouls and 6:33 to play. He scored twice in the post, blocked a shot and fought for rebounds with anyone who wanted to tangle.

Reserve guards Dajuan Harris and Bryce Thompson also came up big in big moments. Thompson hit KU’s lone 3-pointer of the first half to help the Jayhawks establish an early lead. And Harris’ 3-pointer from the wing put Kansas ahead 50-42 after Baylor had trimmed a 10-point Kansas lead to just three in around two minutes.

The punctuation mark to Saturday’s signature victory came on one of Baylor’s final possessions. After watching the Bears misfire from all over the floor all night long, McCormack made sure to leave no doubts about a hard driving floater shot by BU’s MaCio Teague in the final 90 seconds.

As Teague got to the paint, McCormack came from the weakside and volleyball-spiked the shot into the third row behind Teague. The block set off a celebration in the Allen Fieldhouse stands and inspired McCormack to flex and roar in the paint before slapping the hands of his teammates as hard as he slapped the ball.

“I was like, ‘This is the moment that I need to send it to the third row,” McCormack recalled. “The exclamation point was the stare down to tell him to get out of here. I mean, nothing was coming easy even at the end of the game.”

Saturday’s win continues a late-season resurgence for the Jayhawks, who now have won six of seven, including three over ranked teams.

“There was a lot of doubts, a lot of naysayers saying whatever they would like and we had our ebbs and flows,” McCormack said. “But now we're on the rise and we’re going to continue to rise going into March.”

The victory likely locks up a spot in the top three of the Big 12 standings and may even put Kansas in the conversation for a top three seed in the NCAA Tournament.

All of that will be determined in due time, though. On Saturday, the only thing that mattered was that the Jayhawks played the way they wanted to play and got the type of outcome they’ve been looking for all season long as a result.

“I think it’s a huge win for us,” Self said. “It’s not going to get you a ring on your finger or anything like that, but it’s a big win.”

KU will close out the regular season at 7 p.m. Thursday against UTEP at Allen Fieldhouse.


Bryce Landon 1 year, 7 months ago

I credit the win to the red uniforms! Those were some sweet looking red jerseys, I gotta say. I honestly wish Coach Self would have his team dress in red more often than he does, since crimson is one of the school colors.

I'm truly impressed with the progress KU has made to get to the point where they could beat Baylor. After that awful stretch where we went 4-6, I was sure KU was going to lose this game. But after the way we've been playing lately, and capped off by tonight's win, I am confident that we can compete with and beat any team in America. We can make a deep run in March and April if we play like we played tonight!

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 7 months ago

Great D, great rebounding efforts, but most importantly, we sought contacts to get FTs and 50% shooting night! Great team effort, the best bench production ever! It's not a perfect game, with a bunch of TOs and missing 3s, but kudos to team & coaches - this is the best win ever so far.

This team is just getting better and better, let's hope they'll find a way to march deeper. Rock chalk!

Dale Rogers 1 year, 7 months ago

I agree. Those, to me, were the biggest positive factors in winning this game, more so than the offensive production. I am perplexed, though, why so many pundits are talking about Baylor losing because they were rusty. They played ISU just four days ago! Can't these guys see what great defense can do? And out-rebounding by 20?

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 7 months ago

Let's see what they have to say when the Mountaineers beat them.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 7 months ago

I am moderately red-green color blind, so watching this game was tough for me. More than once I realized I was rooting for the guy with the ball who was not a Jayhawk. I like the red uniform but not when the opponent is wearing green!

Bryce Landon 1 year, 7 months ago

From the pictures, it looked like Baylor was wearing charcoal gray with green trim.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 7 months ago

You couldn't prove it by me. I had a lot of trouble with it. Enchroma makes glasses that will filter so that I see pretty much what those with normal vision see but they are quite pricey. I do have filters on my laptop, ipad, and phone so maybe next time I have trouble I should watch the game on my laptop. I do like the red uniforms, normally, so long as the opponent's colors stand out to me!

Brett McCabe 1 year, 7 months ago

Great win by the players, and a great comeback after a heartbreaker vs the Horns. These young Jayhawks have dealt admirably with a lot of distractions, and they have lifted themselves up after a really rough slump mid-season. They deserve all of the credit.

Congratulations too to Coach Williams, the youngest guy to get to 900. Hard to believe that he’s been back at UNC longer than he was in Lawrence. 900 wins. That is an astonishing number.

It’s also interesting to see what’s happening at Illinois under Underwood. This is the guy that KSU let get away and the guy many questioned when he made what was considered a lateral career move. Illinois made a great hire and Underwood saw a great opportunity. I look for Illinois to become a perennial powerhouse going forward.

Bryce Landon 1 year, 7 months ago

North Carolina? Illinois? Maybe those are teams you should cheer for instead of Kansas since you think the Jayhawk program is so dirty and corrupt.

Larry Knzas 1 year, 7 months ago

I have to agree with Bryce here. Spot-on.

Keith Gellar 1 year, 7 months ago

Baylor was exposed last night. They are no way the #2 team. We beat em but let's not get too over confident. We had one good game against a over hyped team.

I'd really like to see how we fare against Gonzaga now.

Micky Baker 1 year, 7 months ago

I would like to see that. I want to be in Gonzaga's bracket. I want to see them in the Sweet 16. I want to take them out early.

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 7 months ago

That game was about Jayhawk pride . Period ! Although it wasnt a traditional senior night it has become a night that we have sent the seniors out with a win . And we did....UTEP game aside . we hustled we competed and didnt back down from Almighty Baylor . NOT IN OUR HOUSE !!!!! We still have work ahead of us but i will savor this victory and thank the guys and coaches for standing up last night . Hearing the ROCK CHALK CHANT was ever so sweet last night ....if only it were 16,300 in the house to put a stamp on it to let Baylor know youre just renting the championship this year .............we still own it ! And we'll be back .


Dan Leftwich 1 year, 7 months ago

Pride definitely showed up in the entire team. Marcus was flat out phenomenal. That guy has some serious pride and will power. He locked his man up on D, blew up screens, and drove the lane mercilessly. The rebounding numbers were ridiculous, mostly because of the defense and Jalen's effort. David was focused and calmly took advantage of the single coverage. And, I gotta give some props to Mitch. He showed some serious confidence and fought like hell in the second half. Scott Drew tried to disrespect Kansas with those lame Covid is our Kryponite comments. They got beat by a better team on this night. I am proud of this team. ROCK CHALK

Tony Bandle 1 year, 7 months ago

Random Thoughts:

1] Great win for the Hawks for many reasons, seeding, another lap on Kentucky, another Senior Night victory, maybe another 20 win season, etc., but, most importantly, it gives this team a look at what they can be potentially if they play with the attitude that the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts.

2] Who was that big guy in the middle for us????? :).

3] In my humble opinion, this entire team should come back next year, seniors included, and kick some major a@@.

4] Brett and Bryce, I guess I will forever get you two guys confused but I'd love to take you both to lunch and debate all things Jayhawk.

5] Baylor played as bad as their uniforms looked, although, to be honest, the long layoff really hurt them down the stretch plus having Scott Drew as their coach whom they can overcome with their talent when they are at !00%.

6] He may not be much of an offensive threat but, WOW, can Mitch block shots or what!!!

7] Jay Bilas is such an upgrade over Dick Vitale. It's like going on a blind date and expecting Jennifer Lawrence and you open the door and it's Roseanne Barr!!

Tony Bandle 1 year, 7 months ago

P.S. 8] Yes...the Red Uniforms are AWESOME!!!!

Benjamin Shear 1 year, 7 months ago

+1 on Jay Bilas. His commentary truly is informative and relevant, the best in the business I believe.

Bryce Landon 1 year, 7 months ago

4) I would have to come down from Iowa to do so, but I'd gladly take you up on that any day!

5) In all fairness, Baylor wouldn't be in position to be #2 or have a near-perfect season if it weren't for Scott Drew. He came to Baylor in the wake of the Patrick Dennehy-Carlton Dotson-Dave Bliss scandal and had to rebuild the program from scratch. What he has done there in the past 18 seasons is comparable to what Bill Snyder did with the Kansas State football program. Baylor was nothing before Drew got there, and he built the Bears into a consistent force to be reckoned with in the Big 12 and a frequent NCAA Tournament participant, including Elite Eight appearances in 2010 and 2012. That said, his behavior during the game last night should have gotten him whistled for at least one technical foul.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 7 months ago

SD sets up a higher bar in B12, that's a good thing. KU is no longer a dominant force in B12, which is also a good thing: our coaching staff has to work harder and eventually we'll have a stronger & better team & better recruitment.

Benjamin Shear 1 year, 7 months ago

Obitur Dictum:

-The numbers of the game are; 19, 37, and 20.

-KU made just 19% of 3s for the game. If you had told me on Friday that KU would win, and only make 3-16 3-point shots, I would not have believed you. Winning against a quality opponent without relying on the 3 is the best news of the game. If our guards can attack the rim, draw fouls, and make layups, we might be reaching new heights.

-Baylor made only 37% of FTs. It's hard to comprehend how poorly they shot. I suppose this is the rust from having their schedule messed up due to COVID. But it's not an excuse. KU beat Baylor.

-KU had a +20 rebound margin over Baylor. Wilson, our top rebounder for the season, had 14 rebounds this game! I'm not sure I ever realized how good he is on the boards. This stat shows they team wanted it, and they played with energy and force.

-Looks like we need to stick with the throwback uniforms the rest of the season.

Kit Duncan 1 year, 7 months ago

This quote comes from a KUSports article from a couple of years ago:

"Kansas basketball coach Bill Self did not even attempt to hide his true feelings when asked after Monday's 80-70 victory over Texas how he felt about his team's unusual red uniforms.

“I'm not a fan of red,” Self said matter-of-factly, before adding, “at all,” for emphasis."

"But Monday night was not about Self and his superstitious nature. It was about seniors Devonte' Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Clay Young. And at least one of those Jayhawks really wanted to wear red before his career was finished."

“Yeah, that was me,” Graham said after tallying 10 points and 11 assists in his final performance at Allen Fieldhouse. “I think I saw a highlight of them wearing red and it just looked good. And I just asked coach if we could get them. I had to go through a little process. Go here, go here, ask here, ask here — and they said, 'Yeah, he would do it.'”


After the quality of play by his team last night, maybe Coach Self will change his mind about wearing red in the future.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 7 months ago

DMac continued to shine! and JW is a rebound machine! What D!!

Micky Baker 1 year, 7 months ago

This team has so much upside for next season even with the departure of Garrett. Improve the perimeter shooting where you can make 8 or 9 3's on just 20 attempts and get the rim for some free throw opportunities at the same time. Who is going to step the defense up next season for Garrett? Braun and Thompson I predict. I like our young guards and I think we've got an All-American Guard in the making. For now, let's focus on UTEP and get a big run away win, decide the game by half time and let the young guys get some experience where they can just have some fun and improve at the same time. Then get ready for the Big 12 tourney... win it! Then let's set a realistic goal for these guys. Elite 8 is doable, it's not easy, but it's doable. If we do better than that, then these guys can all call me whatever names they want to because if they get further they'll deserve it.

Kit Duncan 1 year, 7 months ago

Watching the game again on ESPNU and when looking at closeup camera shots, Baylor wore a midnight green color uniform with yellow(gold) trim.

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