Rating No. 2 unbeaten, Baylor continued his spectacular start to the 2020-21 men’s basketball season by beating 9th ranked Kansas 77-69 Monday night at the Ferrell Center, in Waco, Texas.
Jared Butler scored 30 points, MaCio Teague added 13 and Davion Mitchell 10 as the Bears (13-0, 6-0 Big 12), who went on to take an 11-point lead just 5 1/2 minutes into the game and 13 points at half-time, but only five points with 3:17 to go, jumping to a three-match lead over KU (10-4, 4-3) in the Top 12 standings.
The Bears – they led by just five points midway through the final half – remained ahead of Texas (11-2, 5-1), while KU joined a large group of teams of three defeats (Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Virginia West).
Christian Braun scored 17 points and Ochai Agbaji added 16 points for No. 9 Jayhawks (10-4, 4-3), who fell for the third time in their last five games.
KU, who lost for the first time in ESPN’s 19 Big Monday impressions, have lost two consecutive league games for the first time since the 2012-13 season. The Jayhawks will need a monumental comeback to claim at least part of their 16th league crown in the last 17 seasons.
KU last lost on Big Monday on January 25, 2016 when Iowa State dropped the Jayhawks, 85-72, at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.
Butler, who beat KU by a career-high 31 points in a 78-70 loss to Jayhawks on March 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse, scored 17 points on 6-of-8 shots (4-for-5 threes) and Baylor took the lead, 41- 28, at halftime. Teague had eight points and Vital six rebounds in the half.
Butler scored a quick nine points as Baylor opened a 16-5 lead at 14:23.
Bears lead 18-7 at 12:26, 21-10 at 11:01 am and 26-13 at 8:31. By then Butler had burned KU for 12 points on 4-of-6 shots – 3-of-4 from three.
His lead grew to 37-21 with 4:08 remaining at half time as Butler cashed in three points to take his points total to 15. Baylor’s biggest advantage in the half was 39-23 at 3:18. KU’s only foul was from Braun, who had 11 points.
KU cut the distance to eight points, 46-38, with ball possession remaining at 15:41. However, Baylor went 5-0 to go up 51-38 at 14:00.
Down 56-43 at 11:20 am, KU used an 8-0 pace to cut the gap down to seven points at 10:19. The points came from a Mitch Lightfoot dunk, two free throws by Agbaji, one bucket by Tristan Enaruna and a dunk by Agbaji. However, Baylor responded with a 9-0 spike to move up 65-51 at 7:03.
A 7-0 run, started by Braun three, cuts the gap to 65-58 at 3:44. Marcus Garrett and McCormack also scored in that quick surge. KU are five behind, 65-60, at 3:17 am, however, Baylor has one final round in it to re-open the double-digit league.
KU who are in position 4-3 had their worst start through the first seven games of the conference season since 1988-89, when Roy Williams’ first KU team opened 3-4.
KU, who hit 48.1% of his shot at Baylor’s 53.8%, canceled a second straight conference game for the first time since the 2012-13 season. Yes, nine seasons ago, KU lost to Oklahoma State in Lawrence and TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. That turned into a three-game losing streak when Oklahoma beat KU at Norman.
Entering Monday’s game as a 9-point underdog, Jayhawks did drop to 98-14 following the defeat in the Self era. KU lost to Oklahoma State last Tuesday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, then Saturday’s home game against Iowa State was postponed due to the COVID-19 protocol involving the ISU program.
KU is 47-6 after losing the last seven seasons.
The Bears came in with 11 double-digit wins in 12 games. Baylor beat Texas Tech by eight points on Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.
The Jayhawks players, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, wore pre-match photo shoots with five different quotes from King. Each KU player chooses a special quote for his shooting jersey. KU Trainers wear patches in honor of the King, an initiative of the Top 12 Black Assistant Coaches.
In all, 2,300 fans attended the match. Baylor allowed 25% of arena capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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