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Getting to know No. 23 Baylor before KU's Big 12 opener

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Baylor coach Scott Drew watches the Bears fall behind the Jayhawk’s in KU's 62-52 win over Baylor in the semi-final of the Big 12 Tournament Friday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.

Baylor coach Scott Drew watches the Bears fall behind the Jayhawk’s in KU's 62-52 win over Baylor in the semi-final of the Big 12 Tournament Friday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. by Richard Gwin

Currently ranked No. 2 in the nation, the Kansas basketball team opens Big 12 play knowing a win likely would push the Jayhawks to No. 1 in next week’s AP Top 25.

But coach Bill Self and his players also know No. 23 Baylor (10-2) is no pushover, and their sole focus Saturday (3 p.m. tip, CBS) is defeating the Bears, regardless of what that means for their ranking.

Although BU has never won at Allen Fieldhouse in 13 tries, coach Scott Drew’s team comes to Lawrence ranked No. 23 and boasting some enviable numbers:

  • No. 1 in assists per game (22.7)

  • No. 5 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.84)

  • No. 5 in offensive rebound percentage (42.2%)

  • No. 7 in steal percentage (12.4%)

Most of the Bears suiting up for this road challenge at KU (11-1) faced the Jayhawks last season — when Kansas swept BU, 3-0. Only Kenny Cherry and Royce O’Neale do not return from Baylor’s eight-man rotation a year ago.

Here are the Bears the Jayhawks will have to keep in check as they open their quest for a 12th consecutive Big 12 regular-season crown.

BAYLOR STARTERS

No. 21 — F Taurean Prince | 6-8, 220, sr.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene defends Baylor forward Taurean Prince (21) under the bucket during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene defends Baylor forward Taurean Prince (21) under the bucket during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

  • The Big 12’s No. 3 leading scorer, senior Taurean Prince (15.5 points per game this season, tied with West Virginia’s Devin Williams) has put up double figures in 26 of his past 30 games. Now the Bears’ top offensive player, he is 33 points shy of 1,000 career points.

  • Scored a career-high 30 points in Baylor’s best win of the season, Dec. 6 vs. Vanderbilt. Prince scored 16 of BU’s 18 points in a six-minute span of the first half.

  • Prince’s 6-foot-11.5 wingspan makes him difficult to deal with on both ends of the floor and helps him average 3.3 offensive rebounds per game (5.9 total) and 1.8 steals.

  • A 41.6% shooter on the season, Prince will be hungry to bounce back from a poor showing earlier this week: 2-for-12, 6 points vs. Texas Southern.

  • Prince doesn’t shy away from 3-point shots. He has made 19 of 51 (37.3%) from downtown.

No. 2 — C/F Rico Gathers | 6-8, 275, sr.

Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) gets to the bucket past Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) gets to the bucket past Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

  • A beast of a post player, senior Rico Gathers (14.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 56.1% FGs) is Baylor’s all-time leading rebounder (979) and has 30 career double-doubles.

  • In 3 BU losses to Kansas last season, Gathers averaged 12.7 points and 11.7 rebounds.

  • In one game last season, Gathers pulled down 28 rebounds. Twenty-eight! Even if they came against Houston-Tillotson, that’s still mighty impressive.

  • Gathers’ 10.5-inch-long, massive hands help him devour available rebounds. His 32 put-backs on the offensive glass lead Baylor. He ranks No. 3 in the nation in offensive rebounds per game (4.7).

  • Against a sizable Vandy front court, Gathers shot 5-for-15 but finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out.

  • With 13 blocks this season, Gathers leads the team.

No. 25 — G Al Freeman | 6-3, 200, soph.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is hounded by Baylor guard Al Freeman (25) during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is hounded by Baylor guard Al Freeman (25) during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

  • By far Baylor’s best 3-point shooter, sophomore Al Freeman averages 13.2 points, thanks in part to his 44.8% mark from downtown (26 of 58).

  • Playing a bigger role this season, Freeman has scored in double figures 9 times, compared to 7 total in 2014-15.

  • Freeman scored a career-high 22 points early in the season, when Baylor lost at Oregon.

  • He enters the meeting with KU on a hot streak from behind the arc, hitting 7 of 13 in BU’s last 2 games.

No. 11 — PG Lester Medford | 5-10, 175, sr.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) looks for a steal as he defends Baylor guard Lester Medford (11) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) looks for a steal as he defends Baylor guard Lester Medford (11) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

  • Baylor couldn’t have asked for a much smoother transition for senior Lester Medford, who became the new starting point guard this season.

  • Twelve of Medford’s 18 career starts at PG have come in the past two months, and he enters Big 12 play averaging 6.8 assists per game.

  • Medford is the only player in the nation who ranks in the top 20 in assists (10th), steals (10th, 2.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (12th, 3.9).

  • In Baylor’s previous 10 games, Medford has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 6.5. In that span he has 28 steals, compared to 11 turnovers.

  • Swiped 5 steals, scored 16 points and dished 5 assists in a BU loss at Texas A&M.

  • Not a strong shooter, Medford has only made 12 of 39 3-pointers (30.8%) and averages 8.3 points per game.

No. 24 — G/F Ishmail Wainright | 6-5, 230, jr.

Baylor guard Ishmail Wainright (24) scores over New Mexico State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, in Waco, Texas. (AP/Rod Aydelotte)

Baylor guard Ishmail Wainright (24) scores over New Mexico State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, in Waco, Texas. (AP/Rod Aydelotte)

  • Baylor’s glue guy in the starting five, junior Ishmail Wainright averages 6.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists (7th in Big 12).

  • In his first 2 seasons at Baylor, Wainright only made 5 of 20 from 3-point range. He’s slightly improved this year: 9-for-26 (35%).

  • Another Bear to watch on the offensive glass, Wainright has 22 offensive boards in 12 games.

BAYLOR BENCH

No. 5 — F Johnathan Motley | 6-9, 230, soph.

Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (35) bowls over Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) on a dunk during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. The dunk was called back and Motley was whistled for an offensive foul on the play.

Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (35) bowls over Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) on a dunk during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. The dunk was called back and Motley was whistled for an offensive foul on the play. by Nick Krug

  • A starter in all 34 games as a red-shirt freshman last season, sophomore Johnathan Motley has thrived off the bench this year, contributing 10.6 points and 4.4 rebounds in only 16.7 minutes.

  • Long and athletic, Motley’s 7-3.5 wingspan makes him Baylor’s most effective inside scorer, and he shoots 70% on shots at the rim.

  • Of course, he’s another interior player who likes to attack the glass on offense — 21 offensive rebounds in 12 appearances off the bench.

  • Motley’s 9 blocked shots are second-most on the team.

No. 3 — PG Jake Lindsey | 6-5, 190, fr.

None by Baylor Basketball

  • Medford’s backup, freshman Jake Lindsey only plays 13.2 minutes a game, but does a nice job of filling in (3.3 points, 2.8 assists).

  • Lindsey has 34 assists and only 7 turnovers this season, giving him a team-best average of 22.6 minutes per turnover.

  • The young PG has a 4.86 assist-to-turnover ratio.

No. 31 — F Terry Maston | 6-7, 215, soph.

None by Baylor Basketball

  • A non-factor as a freshman last season, sophomore Terry Maston has tripled his points and minutes totals from a year ago, and is averaging 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in just 11.7 minutes.

  • Maston scored a career-high 14 points in BU’s last game, shooting 5-for-8 from the floor.

  • He’s converting on 56.8% of his shot attempts this year, and thrives at getting to the free-throw line: 28-for-33 (84.8%).

No. 22 — G King McClure | 6-3, 200, fr.

None by Baylor Basketball

  • A young backup guard, freshman King McClure is averaging 4.1 points in 13.2 minutes.

  • King has only played 27 total minutes in Baylor’s past 3 games, but earlier in the season scored 11 points on two occasions, making 3 from downtown in each of those outings.

  • He’s 11 of 30 (36.7%) from 3-point range this season.

Comments

Jim Knight 6 years, 11 months ago

If I'm not mistaken, Scott Drew will have the same number of losses in Allan Fieldhouse as Bill Self if Baylor loses on Saturday.

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