2 Kansas @ 19 Baylor
February 23, 2016 · 7 p.m. (CT)
Entering this game with a seven game win streak, Kansas (23-4, 11-3) is looking to basically clinch at least a share of the Big 12 Championship for the 12th consecutive year. Meanwhile, Baylor is looking to stay in the running for the title by collecting a win over Kansas tonight in Waco. The Bears have had a decent season so far, sitting at no. 4 in the Big 12. Their best win this season was against Iowa State in overtime, and they have not suffered any significantly bad losses. Both teams are dynamic and versatile, giving us an interesting contest tonight.
Match-Up to Watch
The match-up to watch whenever the Jayhawks meet the Bears is Rico Gathers and Perry Ellis. It’s no secret that Ellis has been a true star for Kansas this season. Averaging 16.5 points per game (PPG), shooting 52.2% from the field and 76.2% from the line, and leading the team in rebounds as well, Ellis is a powerhouse for the Jayhawks and a key asset in nearly every game. Meanwhile, Rico Gathers, Baylor’s famed big man, is a massive presence in the paint averaging 10 rebounds per game and scoring around 12 ppg on put backs as well.
In the Jayhawks last game against Kansas State, Ellis was taken out of the game twice for injuries. He received 12 stitches behind his right ear and got scratched in the eye. At the same time, Gathers is recovering from the flu. It will be interesting to see how these two come off of their injuries and illnesses to fight for the win.
X-Factor for Kansas
In their last match-up, Kansas broke down Baylor’s infamous zone defense by knocking down threes left and right. Then, when Baylor started trying to black those outside shots, lanes began opening up and the Jayhawks didn’t hesitate to penetrate and score on drives and inside shots. I think this will be key for them again; first they need to sink shots from beyond the arc, and when the defense adjusts, they need to adapt in the same way they did before and use the efficient inside scoring (58%) they’ve demonstrated in their last six games.
X-Factor for Baylor
Baylor’s X-Factor will be one of two things. If they managed to adjust their defense to accommodate for Kansas’s outside shooters as well as the players who can drive to the rim, then Baylor might be very difficult to score on. However, if their defense is not up to par, then their X-Factor will be an aggressive offense. If Baylor gets the ball in the point as often as they can, and plays aggressively on offense, Kansas will respond with an aggressive defense and foul just like they did in the two teams’ last meeting.
I predict a slower start for the Jayhawks this time around versus the double-digit lead they accrued in Allen Fieldhouse when the Bears went to Lawrence in early January. I believe it will be a close game for most of the 40 minutes with perhaps a few lead swings by a margin of maximum 14 points. More or less, though, I’m looking forward to a tough, close game with, of course, a Jayhawk victory by four or six points in the end.
University of Kansas, 2019