Kansas goes for its first road win of the season tomorrow against a somewhat surprising Baylor team who has already played TCU close on the road and upset Iowa State at home. The Bears have played Kansas well at home in recent memory, including a 16-point win last season.
Probably the best news for Kansas in this one is that Baylor is abysmal at shooting threes. Like, under 30 percent for the season abysmal. They do shoot a fair amount of them, so it only takes a hot streak for them to put Kansas in serious upset jeopardy, but if they do pull the upset, I don’t think it will be via the three.
As is the case in most years, Baylor is a very good offensive rebounding team; they currently sit at 16th in the country. Kansas has been a much better defensive rebounding team this season, so if they can choke off that avenue for Baylor to score they should be able to have some success on that end of the floor. Interestingly, Baylor sits at first in the Big 12 in offensive efficiency through this brief Big 12 season. It remains to be seen if that’s because they have avoided any of the conference’s very good defensive teams so far.
While Baylor leads the league in offense, they rank last in defense. Of course, the flip side could be they have played two very good offensive teams thus far. For the season, Baylor has been rather effective defensively. Interestingly, Baylor is one of the best shot blocking teams in the country (6th), but 298th in FG% allowed at the rim, allowing opponents to shoot almost 65 percent at the rim.
Players to Watch
Makai Mason, 6-1 senior guard
A transfer from Yale, Mason was actually the main reason why Yale upset Baylor in the first round of the 2016 NCAA tournament. I guess he decided watching Baylor lose was so fun that he wanted a front row seat to do it 15 more times. Anyway, Mason is probably the leading candidate for Baylor to find an extra shooter. He’s shooting just 33 percent from three this year, but is around 36 percent for his career and is an almost 80 percent free throw shooter.
King McClure, 6-3 senior guard
McClure has been Baylor’s best outside shooter, at right around 37 percent, although this ends why Kansas needs to watch out for him. He’s inefficient inside, not a good rebounder, and not much of a passer. He is perhaps their best perimeter defender.
Tristan Clark, 6-9 sophomore forward
Clark is Baylor’s version of Udoka Azubuike (statistically anyway). He doesn’t shoot terribly often, but when he does it goes in. Clark is shooting 75.5 percent on twos this season, although he takes fewer shots at the rim than Azubuike. Clark isn’t a great rebounder, but his scoring contributions are (obviously) enough to make him a guy to watch.
Kansas does seem to struggle in Waco, and without the 3-point bombers to make Baylor extend its zone, Kansas should have some trouble scoring. But, given their 3-point struggles of their own, I think Baylor will have some trouble scoring as well. With Marcus Garrett and Dedric Lawson’s passing abilities, I think Kansas will do well against the zone after a little adjustment period, so I will take the Jayhawks to win 72-66.