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Kansas vs Baylor: Previewing the Bears

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Iowa State and Nebraska gave Kansas a pretty good run for their money in the Jayhawks two opening games in league play, but most had this date circled on the calender for the beginning. 

Baylor was believed to be a contender for the Big 12 crown and while some of that optimism may have changed, the talent on the team hasn't.  Plain and simple they just haven't been able to put it together at this point, but that doesn't mean they won't.

Kansas coming to town always seems to bring the best out of a team and a fanbase, tonight Baylor get's their shot at Bill Self and the Jayhawks.

Rankings:

AP Poll
NR
RPI
#101
SOS
#201
SOS Projected
#46

The Players

The Baylor Bears are one of the most athletic teams top to bottom in the league and it starts with senior guard LaceDarius Dunn.  Dunn has had some off the chart games over his time at Baylor and after a suspension to start the season, he's right back where he left off.  The 6'4" guard is one of the top three point threats in the Big 12 as a whole and has twelve threes in just three conference games.  He averages 22.3 per game while shooting nearly 42% from beyond the arc.  Factor in his athleticism on the defensive end and his ability to hit the glass and Dunn is a game changing player on any given night.

Next up for the Bears is a player widely considered the top overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft should he elect to declare.  Perry Jones is a 6'11" 220 pound freshman that has been very impressive in the opening three games of conference play.  Jones averages 13.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game on the season while leading the Bears in field goal percentage. 

Standing alongside Jones on the interior is another athletic interior player in 6'7" junior Quincy Acy.  Acy leads the Bears in rebounding at 7.9 per game and leads the team with 21 blocked shots on the year.  During Dunn's suspension, Acy was the teams go to offensive threat and he now sits as the number two scorer on the team at 13.9 per game.  Jones, Dunn and Acy all present some unique matchup concerns for Kansas due to their size and athleticism across the board.

Now everyone will remember Baylor Bear Tweety Carter, well he's finally gone.  In his place at the point is 6'1" sophomore AJ Walton.  Walton averages 9.2 points and 5.3 assists per game which places him second in the conference in that category.

The final starter is probably the least dangerous but still provides another athletic 6'10" frame and that's junior forward Anthony Jones.  Jones averages 8.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.  The lesson so far?  The Bears have starters with length and athleticism across the board.  There's no reason this team can't compete with anyone in the Big 12.

Beyond the starters, the Bears will go around 8 deep with Fred Ellis, J'Mison Morgan and Stargell love all making minor contributions off the bench.  The Bears have great top end talent, but there is a dropoff after the starters and that's an area where Kansas can claim an advantage.

 

Trending Bears

What to make of Baylor?  That's the million dollar question and I'm sure Scott Drew would love to hear any suggestions. The Bears started the season rather slow in terms of games played and through seven games the question was whether or not the competition was good enough to draw any conclusions. 

Since that time that question has been answered as the Bears have gone just 5-4 with losses to Gonzaga, Washington State, Florida State and Iowa State.  Now those are teams that all have made a mark in one way or another this year, but most Bear fans wouldn't have expected that from this team at the start of the season.

On paper Baylor is a mediocre team sitting right around the middle of the top 100 teams in the nation in terms of both offensive and defensive efficiency which coincidentally ranks below the Jayhawks most recent foe in Nebraska.  Where the Bears are good is in the rebounding column and that could cause problems for Kansas and where there bad is in "valuing the basketball" as they have one of the worst turnover percentages in the conference.

Baylor is up, Baylor is down.  Some have described them as a disorganized Kansas.  In other words they have all the talent in the world but something isn't clicking.  It's probably safe to say that Baylor and K-State fall into the same category at this point.  No one quite knows why things aren't working and everyone is worried that things will finally turn when they play them.

Offensive Averages:

Points
73.4
90th / 8th
Assists
12.6
206th / 11th
Rebounds
38.4
52nd / 7th
FG Pct
47.5
36th / 4th

Defensive Averages:

Points
59.4
15th / 8th
Assists
12.0
120th / 11th
Rebounds
29.4
10th / 7th
FG Pct
39.9
51st / 4th

Prediction Time

According to an unscientific poll of around 200 Kansas Jayhawk fans, Baylor is the game that most think mark the first Kansas loss.  Nearly 40% picked this one as the game to watch and based on the recent play of Kansas, that's a very real possibility. 

Still Kansas and Bill Self win championships because they win these types of games.  It's predicted to be a Jayhawk win by a score of 72-66 but it seems like this one has the chance to get up and down with a lot more scoring. 

Kansas needs to play defense to the level that Bill Self asks and keep the trio of Thomas Robinson and the Morris twins out of foul trouble and active in this one.  Do that and it's a good Kansas win, but without question it isn't easy and Dunn and Jones could have a field day if the Bears get the ball rolling.