No. 17 Baylor beats No. 9 Kansas in matchup of last 2 champs

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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WACO, Texas – LJ Cryer had 22 points with five 3-pointers and 17th-ranked Baylor stretched its Big 12-best winning streak to five games with a 75-69 win over No. 9 Kansas on Monday night in a matchup of the last two national champions.

The reigning champion Jayhawks (16-4, 5-3 Big 12) coming off a 23-point home loss to TCU, lost their third straight game. It’s only their fourth three-game losing streak in coach Bill Self’s 20 seasons.

Adam Flagler added 17 points, while Jalen Bridges and Langston Love each had 11 for 2021 champion Baylor (15-5, 5-3), which overcome another tough shooting night. The Bears were 37.1% from the field (23 of 62) two days after a 62-60 win at Oklahoma when they shot a season-low 36.2%.

Freshman Gradey Dick had 24 points for the Jayhawks while Jalen Wilson had 23. Kevin McCullar Jr. had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double this season.

Love converted a three-point play for the Bears with 14:32 left to put them ahead to stay after Kansas took its only lead at 46-45 when Wilson swished a 3-pointer from the left wing. Love’s field goal and free throw started a 12-3 run that he capped with a 3-pointer.

KJ Adams made two free throws with 6 seconds left in the first half to get the Jayhawks within 41-34, the closest they had been since about five minutes into the game.

After Wilson’s layup got Kansas within 11-7, Baylor had a 9-0 run that was punctuated by Josh Ojianwuna’s two-handed putback dunk. That was the last time in the half that the Bears had consecutive scores, though Cryer did make three 3s in an 83-second span – the first two after 3s by Dick and Wilson, and the third following two free throws by Dick.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The other times the Jayhawks lost three in a row under Self were in February 2005, February 2013 and January 2021. … Dick got his second foul only 3:13 into the first half, and was limited to 11 minutes before the break.

Baylor: The Bears got off to a fast start with a steal by Bridges that led to a fast-break layup by Cryer before Flo Thamba had a three-point play. Bridges then had another steal, this one in the backcourt, though Cryer missed an open 3 that would have made it 8-0 only a minute into the game. … The Bears are 25-8 against Top 25 teams over the past four seasons, the nation’s best mark.

UP NEXT

Kansas goes to Rupp Arena to play Kentucky in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday.

Baylor is home for its SEC/Big 12 Challenge game against Arkansas on Saturday. That is a rematch of the 2021 Elite Eight game the Bears won 81-72 on way to winning their national championship.

Baylor out of women’s AP Top 25 for 1st time since 2004

Nathan J Fish/The Oklahoman/USA Today Network
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Baylor’s 19-year run in the AP Top 25 women’s poll is over.

The Bears had been ranked for 365 consecutive polls before falling out after losing twice. Baylor had been in the AP Top 25 since Jan. 5, 2004, including a 21-week run at No. 1 in 2011-12.

Only Tennessee (565) and UConn (556) have had longer streaks in the 46-year history of the poll. The fifth-ranked Huskies’ run in the poll is still active.

While Baylor is sitting just outside the Top 25, South Carolina continued its stay at No. 1. The Gamecocks, who were the unanimous choice again from a 28-member national media panel, have held the top spot for 30 consecutive weeks. That streak ties UConn for fourth longest all-time.

Ohio State moved up a spot to No. 2 after Stanford lost to Southern Cal on Sunday. The Cardinal fell to fourth. It’s the Buckeyes best ranking since they were second in the final poll of the 2006 season. Ohio State has never been No. 1.

LSU is third for the Tigers’ highest mark since Feb. 27, 2006. The Tigers, who honored all-time great Seimone Augustus with a statue before Sunday’s game, are one of three unbeaten teams left, joining South Carolina and Ohio State.

The Gamecocks and Tigers meet on Feb. 12 in South Carolina.

Indiana was sixth and Notre Dame seventh. Utah, UCLA and Iowa finished off the top 10.

Texas returned to the AP Top 25 at No. 25 after falling out of the poll in late November. The Longhorns started the season at No. 3, but an injury to star guard Rori Harmon sidetracked them early. They had a great week, beating then-No. 23 Kansas and then-No. 15 Iowa State last week.

Colorado also entered the poll this week at No. 24, a year after the team’s last appearance. The Buffaloes beat then-No. 14 Arizona on Friday, a week after handing Utah its first loss of the season. Arizona fell to 19th this week.

Kansas also fell out of the poll.

STREAKING

Maryland now has the second-longest active poll streak, having been ranked for 241 consecutive weeks. South Carolina is third with 198. Stanford and North Carolina State round out the top five, with 94 and 93 weeks, respectively.

FALLING WOLFPACK

N.C. State dropped nine spots to 20th in the poll – its lowest mark since the team was No. 21 in the final poll of 2018. The Wolfpack have lost three of their last four games, including getting swept last week by Florida State and North Carolina.

Iowa State knocks off No. 12 Baylor, 77-62 in Big 12 opener

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
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AMES, Iowa – Gabe Kalscheur and Caleb Grill combined for 41 points as Iowa State toppled No. 12 Baylor 77-62 in a Big 12 opener Saturday.

Kalscheur finished with 23 points, including a 3-pointer to give the Cyclones (10-2, 1-0) a commanding 69-54 lead with 5:22 left to play.

Grill had 18 points and seven rebounds with four assists.

“You love seeing those guys have success,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “Gabe, as many great games as he’s played for us, that may have been his most complete on all fronts.”

Adam Flagler led Baylor (10-3, 0-1) with 20 points, with 18 coming in the first half.

Baylor struggled with Iowa State’s zone, while the Cyclones found their shooting touch, at one point hitting 8 of 15 attempts from 3-point range.

The Bears shot 37.7% from the floor and committed 19 turnovers.

“You can’t have seven assists and 19 turnovers and let the other team shoot 50%, 44 from 3 and win,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “A lot of things we’ve got to do better.”

Iowa State opened the second half with a 9-1 run and took a 43-32 lead on a Kalscheur 3-pointer.

“I thought we did a really good job toward the end of the first half of getting stops,” Grill said. “Once we started pulling some stops together, the offense flowed better, because they weren’t getting back and setting their defense every time.”

A fall-away shot by Flagler gave Baylor an early 25-16 lead. The Bears hit nine of their first 16 shots, but ended the half on a 2 for 11 skid, missing their last seven attempts from 3-point range.

Iowa State went on a 10-0 run to take a 30-29 lead on a Robert Jones putback. The Cyclones were up 34-31 at the break and had forced 11 Baylor turnovers.

“We kind of came back and we weren’t uneasy,” Kalscheur said. “We weren’t worried about things not going our way. We stayed collected and stayed focused on doing what we need to do.”

BIG PICTURE

Baylor will likely make its 65th consecutive appearance in the Top 25, the second-longest streak nationally behind Gonzaga’s 122. Iowa State should return to the Top 25 after dropping out earlier this month.

UP NEXT

Baylor: Hosts No. 18 TCU on Wednesday and Kansas State on Saturday

Iowa State: Visits Oklahoma on Wednesday and TCU on Saturday.

Flagler, No. 6 Baylor rally late, top No. 14 Gonzaga 64-63

Baylor vs. Gonzaga
USA Today
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — In a rematch of the 2021 national championship game, Adam Flagler hit a pair of 3s as No. 6 Baylor scored the final eight points to rally past No. 14 Gonzaga 64-63 Friday night.

Gonzaga’s Rasir Bolton missed a wild, driving layup try at the buzzer.

Two seasons ago, Baylor beat the then-undefeated Zags 86-70 to win its first title. This time, the Bears didn’t take the lead for good until Jalen Bridges made two free throws with 16 seconds left.

“Adam is a great leader, but no one knew he wasn’t feeling well today,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “To be honest, some players wouldn’t have played. He played through the pain and left it all out on the court. As a coach, I appreciate that.”

The Bears (6-2) trailed 63-56 before Flagler hit a 3-pointer with 1:33 left. Flagler’s 3 with just over a minute to play cut Baylor’s deficit to 63-62.

After a Gonzaga shot clock violation, Flagler’s 3-point attempt for the lead was off the mark, but Bridges was fouled by Drew Timme on the rebound attempt. Bridges hit two foul shots to put Baylor ahead.

The Zags (5-3) had a final chance when Bolton caught an inbounds pass near his own foul line with 4.6 seconds remaining. He drove the lane, but his off-balance shot went high off the glass and missed as the buzzer sounded.

“We took two balls down hill and tried to make plays at the rim. At that point in the game, those are tough,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. “It’s very disappointing. They made plays, man.”

Freshman Keyonte George had 18 points and seven rebounds for Baylor. Flagler had 11 points and Langston Love added 10.

“I trust my work. I was able to knock them down,” George said. “My teammates believe in me each and every day. They give me that confidence in a big game to make big shots like that.”

Malchi Smith scored 16 points for Gonzaga. Anton Watson added a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Timme had nine points.

Baylor led by as many as 12 in the first half before Gonzaga closed to five at the break.

Watson’s basket put Gonzaga ahead 41-40. From there, the teams swapped leads over the next 13 minutes as the second half featured two ties and 14 lead changes.

A thunderous dunk from Smith gave Gonzaga its seven-point lead with under two minutes to go.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor: The win was a big rebound for Baylor after its 26-point loss to Marquette earlier in the week. The loss was the Bears’ most lopsided since they fell to Kansas 82-56 in 2007

Gonzaga: After opening the season ranked No. 2 in the AP preseason poll, the Zags have now lost two of three.

STAR WATCH

Timme began the night leading the Bulldogs in scoring at 20 points per game. He was hampered by foul trouble against Baylor and got his first field goal with six minutes remaining. He fouled out with 16 seconds to play.

REMATCH PLAYERS

Four players on the floor Friday night had significant minutes in the championship game two years ago including Flagler, Timme and Watson, along with Baylor’s Flo Thamba.

UP NEXT

Baylor: The Bears return home to host Tarleton on Tuesday before playing Washington State on Sunday in Dallas for the Pac 12 Coast-to-Coast Challenge.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs return to Spokane for three straight beginning Monday when they face Kent State for the first time in school history.

Cryer scores 28, lifts No. 5 Baylor past No. 8 UCLA 80-75

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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LAS VEGAS – LJ Cryer scored a career-high 28 points in a potential March preview to lead No. 5 Baylor to an 80-75 victory over eighth-ranked UCLA in Sunday’s consolation game of the Continental Tire Main Event.

The Top-10 teams know what it’s like to go deep into the NCAA Tournament, with Baylor winning the national championship two seasons ago and UCLA making the Final Four the same year.

This game had postseason intensity with 13 lead changes until the Bears (4-1) took the lead for good at 61-53 with an 11-point run midway through the second half. UCLA (3-2) stayed within range, but didn’t catch Baylor.

Cryer helped make sure of that, as did Adam Flagler, who scored 22 points.

Up just a point, Cryer delivered a 3-pointer with 2:50 left. Flagler made two jumpers in the final minute, the last with 18 seconds remaining to all but end it at 76-71. Each player made two free throws in the final eight seconds.

Cryer, who made 4 of 8 3-pointers, also made the point to drive for baskets in registering his seventh career 20-point game and second this season.

“I tried to do a better job of mixing it up and not being one-dimensional and just out there catching and shooting 3s,” Cryer said. “Our percentages were obviously better when we got to the paint, so I was just trying to make my way in there.”

It was a strong bounce-back performance from Friday when Baylor lost 86-79 to No. 16 Virginia, which won the championship Sunday.

“We’re really doing something special early in the year,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “I’m just really proud of our guys and how hard they competed, and I think we adjusted and did a much better job grinding things out. I thought there was a stretch (against Virginia) where we didn’t play as hard as we were capable. To win at this level, you’ve got to do it for 40 (minutes), and we did it tonight.”

UCLA went 0 for 2 in Las Vegas; the Bruins lost 79-70 to No. 19 Illinois on the tournament’s first day.

Jaylen Clark led the Bruins on Sunday with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 15 points and Tyger Campbell 12.

“If you score 75 points, you’re supposed to win,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “We’re just not there defensively. This is a long season. Who you are now is irrelevant to who you are in March. I know all these games matter for seeding, but we’re going to find out what we’re made of.”

LOCAL KNOWLEGE

Baylor, which won this tournament two years ago, improved to 6-2 in Las Vegas. UCLA has lost three in a row at T-Mobile Arena, including last season’s Pac-12 Conference tournament championship game. The Bruins will be back in this arena for the conference tournament in March and possibly again when the NCAA Tournament West Regional is played here. They better hope they don’t face Baylor again. The Bears have won 10 of their past 11 games against Pac-12 opponents, including six in a row.

THE BIG PICTURE

Cronin criticized the UCLA defense that gave up 79 points to Illinois and 80 to Baylor, two teams that could make strong runs in the NCAA Tournament. If the Bruins are to toughen up defensively, they won’t have many chances to do it against ranked teams. They play No. 4 Kentucky on Dec. 17 and twice face Pac-12 Conference rival Arizona, once in February and again in March.

Baylor won despite being outscored in the lane 42-20. The Bears likely won’t win many games giving up that kind of margin, and they did compensate some when Cryer began to drive to the basket. No other opponent has come close to that success against the Bears, so this likely was a one-off. But also don’t be surprised if other teams try to see if they can emulate UCLA’s success inside.

UP NEXT

Both teams are back in action for home games Wednesday. UCLA hosts 4-1 Pepperdine, and Baylor plays 2-3 McNeese State.

With heavy hearts, No. 16 UVA beats No. 5 Baylor in Vegas

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LAS VEGAS — Armaan Franklin scored a career-high 26 points, and No. 16 Virginia used a big second-half run to knock off No. 5 Baylor 86-79 on Friday night in the team’s first game since three Cavaliers football players were killed in a campus shooting.

Virginia’s players wore sweatshirts during warmups that honored the victims from Sunday’s shooting, which led to the cancellation of the Cavaliers’ scheduled home game a day later. A former Virginia football player has been charged with murder in the slayings of Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry.

The Cavaliers (3-0) will play the winner of Friday’s night’s matchup between between No. 19 Illinois and No. 8 UCLA in Sunday’s championship of the Continental Tire Main Event. Baylor (3-1) faces the loser in the consolation game.

Virginia went on a 21-2 run in the second half and twice went ahead by 22 points. Franklin scored 10 points during that burst, and he finished 7 of 12 from the field, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range.

Keyonte George scored 20 points for Baylor and LJ Cryer had 19.

Trailing 62-40 midway through the second half, Baylor responded with an 8-0 run. The Bears used a full-court press and kept chipping away, twice getting as close as six points, but Virginia held on.

Kadin Shedrick added 17 points for the Cavaliers, Ben Vander Plas had 14 and Reece Beekman scored 10.

TIP-INS

This was the teams’ first meeting since Dec. 28, 1968, when Baylor won 79-61. … They have won two of the past three national championships, Virginia in 2019 and Baylor in 2021. There was no title game in 2020 because of COVID-19. … The Bears fell to 5-2 in Las Vegas games. … Baylor’s Scott Drew on Monday became one of 10 active coaches to have at least 400 victories at his current school. … Virginia has won seven of the past eight tournaments it has played in November.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor: The Bears are coming off back-to-back Big 12 Conference titles, the first team other than Kansas to accomplish that since Iowa State in 2000-01. With a balanced attack that includes four players averaging in double figures, the Bears have high hopes of advancing far into the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia: All five starters are back from last season’s team, which made the NIT quarterfinals. The Cavaliers are counting on the experience of a senior-led team to make an NCAA Tournament run. Before last year, coach Tony Bennett’s team had played in seven consecutive NCAA tourneys.

UP NEXT

The teams wait to learn their Sunday opponents.