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Kansas Downs Baylor to Go To 5-0 in the Big 12

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

This one was over at halftime. Not because Kansas had amassed a huge lead like they did at the half of Oklahoma State, but because Baylor was 8-10 from three in the first half and Kansas was still ahead. Kansas withstood Brady Heslip going 6-9 from three, and Baylor shooting 13-27 from three as a team, to still beat the Bears by 10. Although Kansas allowed 1.08 points per trip, that is a bit misleading due to the three point mark: Kansas again was stout inside, allowing the Bears to shoot just 31% from two.

Offensively, Kansas scored 1.24 points per possession, and the Jayhawks have the best offense in the Big 12 by a hefty margin. In conference play, they're shooting 60.6% from two, meaning that even once their hot three point shooting regresses, they'll still have the best offense in the league.

It wasn't all sunshine and roses, of course: Kansas allowed Baylor offensive rebounds off almost half their misses, and the Jayhawks turned it over on a fourth of their possessions. They now sit last in the league in turnovers and 9th in forcing turnovers. It does bring me to another point, though: if the turnover battle is even close, Kansas is going to win the game. Last night, Baylor also turned it over on a fourth of their possessions, and thus didn't have any "extra" opportunities to score (more on this in a later post hopefully).

Lastly, kudos to Baylor. The Bears have a ton of talent and they played really hard last night. Rico Gathers has maybe the best motor in college hoops and, even though it came against Kansas, I liked seeing Isaiah Austin have a good game. He's always been one of my favorite players. Also, apropos of nothing, it was nice to see Baylor compete hard without a lot of unnecessary chippiness or gamesmanship. What a concept.

Next up is TCU. While everyone will not unreasonably be a little scared of this one, given what happened last year I think the players will take it seriously enough to not have any serious worries.

Andrew Wiggins: 8.5. After a rough one against Oklahoma State, Wiggins was 2-3 from two, 1-4 from three, and an impressive 10-12 from the line. It was nice to see him finally draw some calls after too many instances of seeing him knife into the lane, get hammered, and not get a call. Wiggins did have 4 turnovers, but grabbed 7 rebounds and shut down his man all night. He switched on to Brady Heslip in the second half and that was pretty much the end of that. I made this point last night, but I'll re-use it: it is really nice to have a defender where Bill Self can just say he's tired of that guy scoring, and Wiggins will go make sure he doesn't score anymore.

Naadir Tharpe: 7.5. Tharpe only shot the ball 3 times, but he made 2 threes and he didn't turn it over. Just one assist to go with it, but he also played pretty good defense on Kenny Chery, who is going to get robbed of a 2nd team all Big 12 nod.

Perry Ellis: 8.5. Yay Perry! After really struggling inside the last few games, Ellis was 6-7 from two, and 6-7 from the line. I don't have a ton of evidence to back this up, but it really does seem like Ellis is better against a zone because he can find those pockets that every zone has, he has more space to shoot his jumper, and he's a really smart player so he can find the open man if he gets in trouble. Not to look ahead too much, but it's a good sign if Kansas has to match up with Syracuse.

Joel Embiid: 7. Not one of Embiid's best games. Self actually benched him a bit in the 2nd half due to some defensive issues (though, again, Baylor shot 31% from two and Embiid effectively guarded Cherry on the perimeter.) Embiid was 4-7, made all his freethrows, but grabbed just 4 rebounds and had 3 turnovers.

Wayne Selden: 6.5. Yes he was out of bounds, but that was an excellent piece of effort from a guy who has been struggling at times, and I think it's a great sign going forward. He has plateaued a bit from three, but the increase in hustle plays has translated to his defense a bit, which is huge for a team lacking in perimeter defending.

Frank Mason: 9. One of Mason's best games, I think. He was 3-3 from two, 1-2 from three, had 6 assists to just 1 turnover, and I thought he was also very good on Chery and Heslip. We'll cover this more when I do the defensive scoresheet stuff from Baylor (sometime in February of 2037 probably) but the shots Heslip got off when Mason was on him seemed to be more the big man who was supposed to hedge's fault.

Jamari Traylor: 8. Traylor is Mr. Energy. Another game of making all of his shots, grabbing some rebounds, playing interior defense, and of course turning it over.

No more ratings, but obviously a health update on Tarik Black: From Matt Tait: Bill Self says it's just a turned ankle and that it should be fine. Obvious wanting a guy to be healthy reasons aside, Black has struggled at times for Kansas, but he's been a very good rebounder and efficient scorer, and thus will be important in March.