Kansas (20-4, 9-2 Big 12) is coming off a 73-51 victory at Texas Tech on Feb. 10.
The Jayhawks have won 20-straight games in Allen Fieldhouse, which is tied for the eighth-longest active streak in the nation and is the fourth-longest in the Bill Self era.
Baylor (18-6, 6-5) has won three of its last four games yet is trying to rebound after its 74-65 home loss to Oklahoma State on Feb. 9.
BU, which is sixth in the Big 12, averages 70.0 points per game and boasts a +10.8 scoring margin. The Bears lead the Big 12 in rebounding (41.2 rpg) and rank second in rebound margin (+10.0), assists (15.1) and three-point field goal percentage (37.1).
Baylor is first in three-point field goal percentage defense (29.8) and fifth in three-point field goals made (6.6), while averaging 4.3 blocks and 7.4 steals per game.
Junior forward Taurean Prince leads Baylor with 12.6 points per game, while also pacing the team with 37 three-pointers made. Senior guard Kenny Chery is next in scoring (11.6 ppg, team-high 32 steals), followed by junior forward Rico Gathers (11.2 ppg, No. 1 in Big 12 with 12.6 rebounds per game; he’s the only player in the league to average a double-double), senior forward Royce O’Neale (10.0 ppg), redshirt freshman forward Johnathan Motley (8.8 ppg, team-high 40 blocks) and junior guard Lester Medford (8.0 ppg).
Baylor is coached by Scott Drew, who is 222-156 in his 12th season at BU and 242-167 in his 13th season overall.
KU coach Bill Self is deeply impressed with Baylor. After all, this is a team which lost by just one point (56-55) to Kansas in Waco on Jan. 7 and upset then-No. 15 West Virginia (87-69) at Morgantown on Feb. 7.
“They have always caught our attention,” Self said. “We ended up winning the game by one point down there, in a back-and-forth game, so we know that they're capable and they usually play very well in our building. We've been fortunate and we've won, but they usually play us very well here and they're good. They are ranked 16th in the country this week and they're projected to be like a No. 4 seed (in the NCAA Tournament). They're certainly capable of beating anybody.”
Self spoke about the keys to beating BU and its great zone defense.
“I think you've got to get in gaps and you've got to be able to get the ball flat -- and they do a great job keeping you from getting the ball flat,” Self said. “Then, of course, you want to be able to attack the middle of it, which is probably the key aspect of attacking any zone.
“But the big thing is if they pressure out high on the wings, it really discourages you from getting the ball flat or throwing the ball inside and if that's something that keeps you from doing it, then they win. If it's not, then you hopefully have a chance to attack their zone better, but you've still got to make some shots.”
HONORING DEAN SMITH
Kansas Athletics will honor the accomplishments during Saturday's game of former KU player and legendary college coach Dean Smith, who died Feb. 7 at his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Smith was 83 years old. A native of Emporia, Kansas, who grew up in Topeka, Smith played at Kansas from 1949-53 and was a part of the Jayhawks' NCAA national championship team in 1952 under Phog Allen. Smith and the Jayhawks were national runners-up in 1953. After graduating from KU, Smith served as an assistant coach at Kansas under Allen for the 1953-54 season. He eventually coached at North Carolina from 1961-97, building a dynasty while winning two NCAA national championships (1982 and 1993) and the 1971 NIT title. He was the winningest coach in college basketball history upon retirement, compiling an 879-254 record. His 879 wins are currently fourth all time in NCAA Division I.
LAST TIME OUT
In KU’s 56-55 win at Baylor on Jan. 7, it marked the 24th straight conference-opening win for Kansas. Junior forward Jamari Traylor led KU with 13 points while also grabbing five boards.
Sophomore guard Brannen Greene scored 12 points while sophomore guard Frank Mason III added 11 points with five assists. Freshman guard Kelly Oubre Jr. also came up big with four steals, including his pivotal fourth in the final seconds.
Chery was game-high scorer with 25 points, while Gathers led both squads with 14 rebounds.
Kansas leads the all-time series with Baylor (dates back to 1951) 22-4. KU has won three straight games and is 4-2 in the last six meetings. Kansas is 12-0 against Baylor in games played in Lawrence, including 11-0 in Allen Fieldhouse.
Self is 14-4 all time versus BU, including 14-3 while at Kansas. Drew is just 3-14 against KU.