The Bears couldn’t answer the Jayhawks final run as Baylor (20-2, 7-2) fell to Kansas (20-2, 8-1) 73-68.
Baylor led at halftime 34-28. Johnathan Motley was masterful in the half. His size and work near the rim proved too much for KU’s smaller frontline. Motley finished the contest with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
But KU went on a 13-0 run to start the second half. The Bears battled back, but the Jayhawks were simply too much. Baylor’s offensive rebounding kept them in it, but KU’s 3-point shooting and number of trips to the free throw line proved decisive.
Baylor answered so many of KU’s runs in the second half. KU seemed to pull away, but time after time Baylor answered. The Jayhawks would hit a 3-point shot. Manu Lecomte would answer. They’d hit again. Ish Wainright had an answer too.
Baylor and Kansas were tied with 2:44 to play. Baylor committed two cardinal sins around that time. Not long before, the Bears went under a Frank Mason screen. As a result, he hit a 3-point shot. In a long game, focusing on a few moments can be tough, but in a place you have to be perfect to win, the Bears weren’t quite perfect. Not long after going under Mason, Baylor closed out hard on Josh Jackson at the perimeter. Jackson advanced to the hoop and threw down a dunk.
Baylor came close to pulling this off. The Bears nabbed 17 offensive rebounds, and Terry Maston provided a lift off the bench with 14 points. Add in Motley’s strong performance and Manu Lecomte’s incredible 3-point makes- he finished with 16 points on 4 for 6 shooting from deep- and it felt like the Bears might find a way to win. They have so often this year, but they fell just short tonight.
KU was a little too good from 3-point range to lose tonight. They finished 9 for 20, and Josh Jackson nailed half his attempts. A team has to give up something defending Kansas, and unfortunately, those six points from Jackson’s 3-point shots would have been the difference.
The free throw line proved decisive as well. That sentence is written to be ambiguous because like many games at Allen Fieldhouse, you can read into that sentence whatever you want. KU shot 27 free throws. Baylor shot six. The Bears entered the game with a top 25 foul rate on KenPom. Tonight they fell victim to a few calls. Jake Lindsey fouled out with more than five minutes remaining, and the Bears didn’t make it to the line as often as they’d like.
Anybody who has coached knows that there are some places that you just have to be 10 points better than the home team.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) February 2, 2017
But the Bears had their chances. They hit some big shots, but they had a few possessions where they’ll look back and feel like they wasted a big chance. Motley attempted just one shot in the second half. On a few possessions, Baylor also attempted an ill advised 3-point look or turned it over.
This game went basically as I expected, which doesn’t make the loss any less depressing:
Seem to have almost exactly predicted that one: pic.twitter.com/uLlSUvM7Tg— Kendall (@kkaut) February 2, 2017
Baylor came into Allen Fieldhouse and nearly got the victory. The Bears don’t need any moral victories because they have won 20 times. But the Bears will get another shot at KU in Waco. Hold serve, and the Bears can still win the Big 12. They might have missed a shot tonight, but they’ll get another chance to come at the long ruling kings of the Big 12.