|No. 19/16 Baylor (20-8, 9-5) at No. 2/2 Kansas (23-4, 11-3)|
Feb. 23, 2016 | 7:00 p.m. CT
Waco, Texas | Ferrell Center (10,284)
TV: ESPN2 and WatchESPN
Radio: Tune In App | Sirius 108 | XM 199 | ESPN Central Texas
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These two teams began the conference season way back on January 2. It was not very good, mostly. Kansas opened up the game on fire from three and essentially salted the game away in the first 10 minutes. It is worth noting that Baylor outscored KU for about a 20 minutes stretch in the middle of the game after switching to man defense, but that's a rather hollow victory.
It will be interesting to see how Scott Drew opens this game. The zone has been toasted a time or two in the last few weeks, especially at home. Kansas is an exceptional three-point shooting team. Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis, Devonte Graham, and Brannen Greene are all shooting above 40% from three on the season, and with the way Frank Mason attacks the paint, it will be inevitable that Kansas gets quality looks from deep, especially if Baylor is in a zone. If the Jayhawks hit their shots, Baylor is likely sunk. KU has had a couple of bad shooting games on the road (losses at Oklahoma State and Iowa State), so there's always a chance Baylor could go up against a cold shooting team.
The other big factor here is Johnathan Motley's third straight start in place of Rico Gathers, still recovering from a bout of influenza. Motley earned Big XII player of the week for his outstanding performances against Iowa State and Texas, so his start is well deserved. It will be interesting to see how the battles with KU's plethora of big men. No one has particularly claimed a strong rotation spot in Bill Self's front court next to Ellis, but there is enough quality there to be worrisome.
Baylor will likely need contributions from Al Freeman and King McClure from the perimeter to keep pace with KU's scoring. Those two have been rather quiet from deep lately, so Bears fans can hope this will be the game where they make some noise.
As always, steady play from Lester Medford and Taurean Prince will be key. Medford can have some trouble with length. If Self assigns Graham to guard him, it could be tough for Medford to get going. Prince has a size advantage over Selden. It will be interesting to see if that can be a factor for the Bears.
I'm not hopeful for Baylor's chances headed into this one - Baylor hasn't beaten Kansas since an 81-58 bouncer to close the 2013 regular season - but the Bears have a chance to close the gap between first and second place in the conference standings tonight.
So be there and be loud!