Another week, another chance for the Bears to secure an elite home win over a Top-5 ranked team. The Kansas Jayhawks, ranked 2nd in the nation and leading the Big 12 Title race by 2 full games, come to town Tuesday night. It has been almost a month since Kansas lost their last game. In fact, they lost three straight Big 12 road games to fall to 5-3. Wins at Oklahoma, TCU and Kansas State though have righted the ship and put the back the driver's seat for another Big 12 title.
No. 2 Kansas (23-4, 11-3) at No. 16 Baylor (20-7, 9-5)
Date - Feb. 23, 2016 | 8:00 p.m. CT
Location - Waco, Texas | Ferrell Center (10,284)
TV - ESPN2 and WatchESPN
Radio - ESPN Central Texas
Online Audio - Listen Online
Linve Stats - Gametracker
Twitter - @BaylorMBB
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Hope They Miss - The Jayhawks own one of the best offenses in college basketball, ranking 6th in offensive effeciency according to KenPom. They don't really have a weakness at all. They are a tremendous shooting time, owning a 55.2% effective field goal rate (18th in the nation) and are absolutely deadly from 3-point range (41.7%, 6th in nation). This is as strong of a shooting team that Baylor will see. Wayne Selden (42%), Frank Mason (38%) and Devonte' Graham (42%) are three top-tier shooters and carry the outside attack. Brannen Greene (54%) has been incredbly accruate off the bench in limited minutes for the Jayhawks as well.
In their three Big 12 losses, the Jayhawks have shot just 35.6% from deep. Simply put, you need Kansas to miss shots they normally make to have a good chance of beating them.
2. Slow the Game Down - Kansas plays at an incredibly fast tempo on offense, especially when they get the ball in the open floor. Their offense is quick, while their defense slows the game down to a crawl. You can do that when your offense and defese are both Top-25 in effeciency. Kansas is solid at turning the ball over (and solid at protecting it). They score tons of points in transition, espeically with their multitude of shooters.
Baylor has to do a goob job of limiting open-court turnovers. Those are killers against a team like Kansas. They also have to make the Jayhawks work against the Bears defense. This team scored 102 points in 40 minutes against the Bears, getting up quick shots. The Bears need this game in the 70s, not in the 90s.
3. Motley Time - The past few games, Jonathan Motley has been not only the best Baylor player, but one of the best in the Big 12. He won player of the week honors for his efforts against Iowa State and Texas last week. He has been mentioned as a national player of the week as well. With an aggressive and assertive Motley controlling the paint, this is an elite Bears attack. They can get the ball down low to their sophomore post and let him create. It will be interested to see if Kansas elects to double him, as he has struggled with that defensive look at times. Motley wants to be aggressive, and that can play against him when a hard trap comes.
It would be unfair to ask for another 12-13 shooting game from Motley, but the Bears need that level of domiance down low, against another lineup of quality big men. Landon Lucas will probably get first crack at Motley, and he has been excellent the past few weeks as well. This is a big-time matchup to watch, and one that the Bears need to not only win, but dominate to be able to pull off the upset.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME?
The Bears went into Allen Fieldhouse and were run out of the gym in the first 10 minutes of action. Baylor faced a 28-8 deficit to start the game and never recovered in a 102-74 beating. Wayne Selden scored 24 points for Kansas, Whil 3 other players chipped in more than 10. The Jayhawks show 53.7% from the field, and made 11-19 three-pointers. Baylor shot just 39% from the floo, and were led by Taurean Prince's 17 points.
KenPom.com – Baylor loses 77-76 (46% chance for win)
Massey.com – Baylor loses 79-77 (41% chance for win)
Tim Watkins, BearsIllustrated.com - Baylor loses 82-76
The way Kansas is playing, I don't know if I would pick any teams to beat them right now. They can beat you in so many different ways. They can simply outscore you (as they did against Baylor and Oklahoma). They can win in a slugfest (like their 72-63 victory over Kansas State on Saturday). They can play tough defense and take care of the ball (like their win over WVU). This is just a dynamic team. Baylor will need to play their best game of the season to win. And they still might not.