No. 2 Baylor looks to remain unbeaten vs. No. 6 Kansas
Few coaches ever want to see a schedule disrupted.
Yet with postponements becoming common because of COVID-19 protocol, No. 6 Kansas (10-3, 4-2 Big 12) could benefit from additional practices before its showdown Monday against No. 2 Baylor (12-0, 5-0) at Waco, Texas.
"It's the season we live in," Kansas coach Bill Self told the Kansas City Star. "Certainly, we don't want anybody to get sick. This gives us a couple more days to prepare for Baylor."
If the time helps Self with adjustments and messaging, following a Tuesday defeat at Oklahoma State, all the better.
Except for working the ball inside to David McCormack, who responded with a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds, the Jayhawks struggled with offensive execution against the unranked Cowboys. Defensively, Kansas looked flat-footed, allowing a whopping 37 fast-break points.
If the Jayhawks are to keep pace in the Big 12, beating the league-leading Bears is imperative.
While McCormack has averaged 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots in the last three games, inconsistency among other Jayhawks is a concern. Ochai Agbaji is the most dependable outside threat, making 22 3-pointers in the last seven games as the Big 12's most accurate shooter (42.7 percent) from deep.
"We didn't guard. We were slow," Self said. "We've got to play with a little bit more oomph without question, and toughness."
Self didn't blame a lack of athleticism for the inability to get back on defense, but rather a tendency to retrieve rebounds that hampers Kansas at preventing breakouts. Whatever the case, opponents have scored more points on fast breaks in five of the Jayhawks' last six games.
Any defense of the Jayhawks' athleticism will be adjudicated in the Baylor matchup.
The Bears' length and athleticism have caused fits for opponents all season, especially because of the depth coach Scott Drew can employ. That depth, which finds nine Bears averaging at least 14 minutes, leads to competitive practices that contribute to Baylor defeating every opponent by 10-plus points before topping No. 15 Texas Tech 68-60 on Saturday.
"It's like we're playing against the No. 1 defense in the country," Jared Butler said of the Bears' 5-on-5 practice sets. "That keeps us sharp, that keeps us humble. When you're going against the best players in the country on the best team, it's hard to score."
Baylor shot just 41.8 percent and was outrebounded in the win at Texas Tech, while limited to fewer than 70 points for the second straight game after averaging 91.2 points through their first 10 games.
"(Texas Tech) beat us to a lot of the 50-50 plays," said Drew, "but also credit us to how we played down the stretch and found a way to win the game."
Butler shot just 2-for-11 at Texas Tech but hit two key 3-pointers down the stretch. He averages 15.6 points and leads the Big 12 in steals (2.5). MaCio Teague chips in 15.5 points on average.
Davion Mitchell, who led the Bears with 19 points against Texas Tech, leads the Big 12 in assists (5.9).
--Field Level Media
Updated January 16, 2021