Midway through the first half I was planning on writing one of the more scathing rants of all time. I had expected the team to come out a bit flat after a deflating loss on Saturday, but I didn't expect them to be down ten early. But in true Bill Self fashion Kansas came back to take a slim lead at the half, and then went on a 21-1 run to start the second half. It doesn't always work out that well obviously, but I can't remember the last time Kansas came out worse in the second half than in the first. I'm not sure how Bill Self keeps pulling off halftime speeches like that, but I'm sure glad he does.
To provide the starkest of contrasts, I'm not terribly sure about the strategy Baylor drew up. They played a lot of zone, which I understand is their bread and butter, but I would take my chances against a zone where the defense isn't packed into the paint any day of the week. Secondly, Baylor took just eight threes all game, 11.1% of the field goals they attempted. They only made 2 of them, one each from Pierre Jackson and Quincy Miller. I certainly understand establishing an inside presence and working inside out, but Jackson shoots 47%, Miller shoots 42%, and Brady Heslip, who only shot one three, shoots 44%. I can't say I know what the thought behind that was. If it was to establish the inside game, they didn't do that very well either as Baylor made only 39% of their twos. As a result the third best offense in the conference scored only .84 points per trip.
Offensively Kansas shot the ball as well as they have all year, with a 57.8% eFG. They shot 55% from two, but Baylor's two point defense has been surprisingly poor in Big 12 play, allowing opponents to shoot almost 50% from two, so perhaps the good feelings from this one should be tempered a bit.
Despite how well they played, there are a couple negatives to highlight: for one, they turned it over on about 30% of their possessions. Baylor forces their fair share of turnovers, but that is far too often to turn it over. And, while Baylor is 8th in the league and 226th in the country in turning it over, Kansas wasn't able to take advantage, forcing turnovers on just 18.8% of the Bears' possessions. Lastly, the rebounding wasn't there yet again, as Kansas had a 29.2% offensive rebounding rate against a poor defensive rebounding team (though they did a decent job at limiting Baylor on the offensive glass).
Lastly, while it was disappointing to see Baylor make a late charge, I don't think it's anything to worry about: it's human nature to let up a bit late when the game is out of hand, and with all of the minutes everyone has had to play all year, it's probably better in the long run they took a bit of a rest out there.
For the record, when lopping off the final three minutes when Kansas let their foot off the gas a bit Kansas had a PPP of 1.12 points per possession and Baylor's was just .81. Every minute counts obviously, but let's not let a couple minutes tarnish the domination that took place last night in Waco.
- Speaking of total domination, Jeff Withey had a career high 25 points, and did it so efficiently that it conjured memories of Marcus and Markieff Morris. Withey went 8-10 from two and 9-11 from the line for an eFG of 80% and a true shooting percentage of just over 82%. He added 5 rebounds and had 3 blocks, including one that I thought he was going to slap through the backboard. Yours truly made a joke that Withey was the Francisco Pizarro to Baylor's Incan Empire, which I think both sounds ridiculous but also makes total sense given how he played last night.
- Tyshawn Taylor apparently stole Baylor's three point shooting prowess, going 4-7 from behind the arc and is now up to 44% on the year. But his most memorable shot was going coast to coast and making a spinning layup while being fouled [ed. note: someone remind me to pull the video so I can fanshot it later]
- Conner Teahan had a great game, going 2-3 from three and 1-1 from two. He didn't turn it over either, though he came remarkably close on the play that set up his layup.
- Elijah Johnson had another horrendous game shooting, going 0-2 from two and 0-4 from three. But he did have 5 assists to just 1 turnover. It is much too early to talk about this, but I actually am quite bullish on him as a heady pass first point guard next season. There are definite issues to fix there, but I trust both the coaches and Elijah to do so.
- Releford had just one point, but it looked to me that he played really good defense, and I tend to think of Releford as a guy who you know is having a good game when his name isn't being spoken a lot on the telecast. I definitely think he has the ability to score consistently like he did early in the conference slate, but I also think that it's bad news for the team if he is relied upon to do so a lot.
- I'm again stealing something I tweeted last night, but I will never ever ever ever get tired of Bill Self giving Scott Drew the blow off handshake.