Baylor (2-5, 9-5) fell to Kansas (24-3, 12-3) 67-65. The win should ensure Kansas their 13th straight Big 12 title.
Baylor and KU were tied with 45 seconds remaining. Jo Lual-Acuil ended up with the ball near the hoop, but he couldn’t quite finish against Kansas’ defense with 37 seconds remaining. The Jayhawks got the ball back, and Devonte Graham missed a shot. Landen Lucas rebounded, but Johnathan Motley was called for a foul. KU hit both free throws and held on to win.
On the Bear’s final possession, Manu Lecomte drove after Kansas trapped a high ball screen. Lecomte went up with Josh Jackson close to his back and missed the final shot. Close but not quite. A common story in the last 10 games against Kansas.
In a game of halves, once again, Baylor’s second half problems outweighed their first half strengths. Baylor ended up with 16 turnovers. They gave up 10 offensive rebounds. The second is not devastating, but when paired with the first, it was.
After playing well throughout the first half, Baylor led by nine with six seconds left in the half. Motley drove and hit Jake Lindsey for a 3-point make. But Motley charged into Devonte Graham. Josh Jackson—a top five pick in the next NBA draft but a poor jump shooter—nailed a three of his own. Baylor went into halftime up 35-29. Baylor did not trail in the first half. But that lead seemed fragile. It proved to be.
Kansas went on an 11-0 run in the second half and took a 52-47 lead. At the end of that run, Ish Wainright went to the locker room with 12:10 left. He came up limping after injuring his ankle.
But Baylor raced back. The Bears retook the lead 54-52, but Manu Lecomte came up limping too. The Bears did not pull Lecomte after he suffered that injury. Wainright returned too. KU didn’t take advantage of a limping Lecomte on drives, but his injury seemed to curtail the offense. Baylor failed to score in the last 3 minutes and 34 seconds.
Johnathan Motley was good, but less efficient than Baylor needed today. He finished 8-of-21 from the floor. Baylor shot well from deep—8-of-18—but that could not overcome a few bad stretches.
Baylor lost to a very good team for the second time. But this was a heartbreaking loss. When you lose by two points at home almost anything can be the difference. They’ll be plenty of time to think about this one. For now, Baylor needs Wainright and Lecomte to get healthy and to figure out when Al Freeman can rejoin Baylor on the court. They’ll need all three to make a run in March help us forget about the heartbreak in February.