No. 12 Kansas picked up a huge road win in their Big 12 opener on Wednesday night, surviving their trip to Waco with a 56-55 win over No. 21 Baylor despite a horrid first half performance that saw them score just 18 points.
Jamari Traylor led the way with 13 points to go along with five boards, two blocks and a pair of key assists in the second half. His play at the high post against Baylor’s 2-3 zone is what sparked the Jayhawks down the stretch, with those two dimes he dropped leading to dunks from Cliff Alexander. Wayne Selden was also big down the stretch, as he shook off a rough night by hitting three straight buckets in the final three minutes to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 54-51 lead.
For a team that has been as maligned as any top 15 program this season, the Jayhawks have a strong resume and seem to only be getting better.
For Baylor, however, this loss is going to leave a sour taste in their mouths. They had three chances to win this thing in the final 10 seconds and botched all three. Rico Gathers was all alone to tip in a missed layup in transition and proceeded to miss a layup of his own. On the ensuing out of bounds play, Kenny Chery didn’t throw the ball to Jonathan Motley — who was WIDE OPEN — and instead turned the ball over. And after Kansas guard Frank Mason missed a free throw at the other end, this happened:
Baylor started the season so well, and yet here they are, sitting at 0-2 in the conference after the fist week of league play.
I’ve now seen the entirety of Baylor’s first two Big 12 games, and I think I’m ready to call the Bears a tournament-caliber team. Chery choked on the final inbounds play, but he scored 25 points and was the single biggest reason that Baylor was in a position to win the game in the final 10 seconds. Jonathan Motley and Rico Gathers make up a very good and rarely pretty front line, while the rest of the piece — Lester Medford, Taureen Prince, Royce O’Neale — provide enough support to make this team a threat.
But they can’t let wins like this slip away anymore, not at home and not in a conference as tough as the Big 12.
And it’s worth noting here that this loss does not fall on Scott Drew. He can’t make his players throw the pass when the inbounds play he draws up gets someone wide open. He can’t make layups for his guys. He can’t shoot before the final buzzer goes off.
Drew has his flaws as a head coach.
But his coaching did not cost his team a win on Wednesday night.