No. 10 Baylor rallies to beat No. 5 Kansas 80-70 in Big 12

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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WACO, Texas – Flo Thamba had 18 points, Jeremy Sochan had 17 and 10th-ranked Baylor overcame a big early deficit to beat No. 5 Kansas 80-70 on Saturday night, avenging an embarrassing loss three weeks earlier and keeping the Jayhawks from clinching a share of their 20th Big 12 title.

The Bears (24-5, 12-4 Big 12) didn’t take the lead until the opening minute after halftime, and went ahead to stay at 65-63 on Thamba’s jumper with 4:07 left. That came after Ochai Agbaji, who had 27 points for Kansas, made a tying 3-pointer.

The Jayhawks (23-5, 12-3) had their four-game winning streak snapped and missed a chance to lay claim to another Big 12 title. They still have three games left, including a game postponed from Jan. 1.

Baylor, the defending national and Big 12 champions who lost 83-59 in Lawrence on Feb. 5, began the day tied with No. 9 Texas Tech for second place in the Big 12.

But the Red Raiders (22-7, 11-5), who swept their two games against Baylor and split with Kansas, lost 69-66 at TCU earlier Saturday. The Jayhawks play twice in three days against TCU next week.

The Bears took their first lead with a blistering opening minute of the second half, with Kendall Brown blocking a shot and then running the court for a slam dunk after a long bounce pass from James Akinjo that made 33-32.

There was then a technical foul assessed against Bill Self, with the Kansas coach irate that there wasn’t a foul called on a shot by Christian Braun. Self was near midcourt after the non-call, which came after the Jayhawks never went to the free throw line before halftime. Akinjo made both free throws.

Braun had 17 points and 10 rebounds. David McCormack had 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Adam Flagler added 13 points for Baylor, while Akinjo had 12. Matthew Mayer had nine points and 12 rebounds.

Flo Thamba, the big man remaining for the Bears with Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua out two weeks after a season-ending left knee injury, had 12 of their first 17 points.

Baylor was down 28-15, matching its largest deficit, before a layup by Thamba ignited a 10-0 run. The Bears were within 28-25 after Sochan blocked a shot that was swatted to Flagler, who drove the court and switched the ball from his left to right hand in the air for a layup. Sochan had a two-handed slam before that.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The Jayhawks still control their fate in whether they will be the Big 12 champion for the 20th time in the league’s 26 seasons. They won an unprecedented 14 titles in a row from 2005-18, and then won again in 2020. … Remy Martin played for the first time after missing seven games because of a bone bruise on his right knee. The super senior transfer guard hadn’t played since Jan. 29 against Kentucky.

Baylor: The Bears are 10-1 vs. Top 10 teams over the last two years, the lone loss being at Kansas earlier this season. This is the third consecutive season, and fourth time in five years Baylor split the regular-season searies with the Jayhawks.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Baylor will be ranked in its 54th consecutive poll when the new Top 25 comes out Monday, and will extend its Top 10 streak to 46 polls in a row. Both streaks are already school records. Kansas will still be in the Top 10. The Jayhawks were among five of the top six teams to lose Saturday, and the only one to do so against a top 10 opponent.

UP NEXT

Kansas: Plays at TCU on Tuesday night, then hosts the Horned Frogs on Thursday night in the makeup of what was supposed to be the Big 12 opener, but was postponed because of COVID-19 issues in TCU’s program.

Baylor: At No. 20 Texas on Monday night. The Bears beat the Longhorns 80-63 at home Feb. 12.