In the hullabaloo of the West Virginia comeback I sort of forgot we had another big game Saturday.
Kansas takes on the best defense in the league when it travels to Waco this weekend, and the previous matchup was 1 of just 5 Big 12 games in which Baylor has allowed more than a point per possession (although it is worth noting they have in 3 of their last 4 Big 12 games). Nonetheless, the Bears can pull within 1 game of Kansas with a win on Saturday, and of course a Jayhawk victory will all but seal up #13.
Offensively, Baylor has ebbed and flowed a bit. They rank 6th in the league, scoring 1.055 points per possession, but they really put it on TCU (1.27 PPP) and Texas Tech (1.13 PPP) in their last two games, so maybe they are turning the corner a bit. Baylor’s main problem offensively is turnovers. At 22 percent of possessions, they turn it over more than anyone in the league. When they do put up a shot, though, they’re pretty good. Baylor shoots 51 percent on twos and they also rebound 38 percent of their misses, which is tops in the league, so they get a lot of cracks at it. I am sure we all remember Baylor basically playing volleyball in Allen Fieldhouse (could have used them in that 2nd round matchup this year) to the tune of rebounding 41.5 percent of their misses. Given how well Kansas did on 2-point defense in that matchup, I don’t like KU’s odds if Baylor has that kind of day on the glass again.
Defensively, as I have noted, the Bears are the best in the league, and are the only team allowing fewer than 1 PPP, but the tide may be shifting. Teams still haven’t been able to take advantage of the 3-point defense, with Baylor giving up the 7th most attempts in the league but still allowing teams to shoot just 33.3 percent. Given the fact teams shoot 44.5 percent on twos against the Bears (best in the league) it is probably a good idea for Kansas to just let it fly from deep. Kansas took right around 40 percent of its shots from deep against the Bears last matchup, and they’ll probably need to do so again to win.
Players to Watch
Johnathan Motley, junior forward
Probably the favorite for Big 12 player of the year as of now, Motley is shooting 55 percent from two, and he also made 1 of his 3 threes this conference season against the Jayhawks because of course he did. Motley is the best offensive rebounder and 2nd best defensive rebounder in the league, and also draws the 3rd most fouls in the league. He also anchors the best defense in the league. Probably worth trying to get him in foul trouble.
Manu Lecomte, junior guard
Lecomte was basically Baylor’s offense in the first matchup, and while his assist/turnover numbers haven’t been very good, he’s 9th in the league in 3-point shooting and has turned himself into a deadly catch and shoot option that Kansas will basically need to shadow the entire game.
Terry Maston, junior forward
His numbers have been up and down this year, but he just went for 22 against Texas Tech and had 14 against the Jayhawks. Maston is shooting 59 percent on twos this season, and has been one of Baylor’s better offensive rebounders. He is also 0-5 from three for his career, so you know what’s coming tomorrow.
Things to Watch For
- Turnovers - Kansas hasn’t turned it over much lately. Meanwhile Baylor turns it over all the time and never forces turnovers. The Jayhawks should be able to get quite a few extra possessions based off that alone. They need to take advantage.
- Rebounding - Kansas mitigated the defensive rebounding problems last matchup by rebounding 40 percent of their own misses. I don’t see that happening again but they also did a good job on the glass against West Virginia, the other offensive rebounding power in the league.
- Perimeter shooting - Kansas has gotten back into its drive the lane at all costs mentality. They’re one of the most dangerous 3-point shooting teams in the country. They need to act like it.