Many times it felt like the game was completely out of reach for Kansas men’s basketball against Baylor in Waco, Texas, Monday.
But the Jayhawks battled throughout the game — especially in the second half — despite the eventual 77-69 loss to the No. 2-ranked Bears.
After trailing by 13 at halftime, Kansas was able to chip away at the lead in the second half, trailing by five points with 3:18 left in the game. However, key runs by Baylor late and poor transition defense by Kansas led to the Jayhawks' second-straight Big 12 conference loss for the first time since February 2013.
“Hard to come back against a team like them when you start how we started,” said sophomore guard Christian Braun — who scored a team-high 17 points — after the game. “We didn’t help ourselves out early.”
Without Braun’s 14 points in the first half, Kansas may have been “buried,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. Two of Braun’s three-pointers in particular came late in the shot clock and were difficult shots.
“They are a bad, bad team to play from behind because of the guards they have,” Self said after the game. “You can’t spot a team 13 points at halftime and expect to come back.”
Baylor scored 26 points off 15 Kansas turnovers and also had 14 fast-break points. Every time the Jayhawks inched closer, the Bears nailed a big shot off a Kansas mistake to extend the lead.
“Even though we cut it to five, five goes to 10 or 11 and then [we were] playing catch up again,” Self said.
Junior guard Jared Butler was the biggest shot maker for Baylor, finishing with 30 points on 7-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Butler also facilitated the offense by dishing out eight assists.
Butler’s biggest shot of the night came with 2:56 left to play, as he drained a deep three-pointer to put Baylor back up eight after a brief Kansas comeback. After that shot, the Jayhawks could not recover.
Other than Braun, junior guard Ochai Agbaji also clocked in a solid game with 16 points on 4-for-7 shooting from three-point range. Junior forward David McCormack struggled in this game and could not keep out of foul trouble.
That led to more playing time for senior forward Mitch Lightfoot, who finished with a solid eight points and three rebounds off the bench.
“We got downhill and got easy buckets off of our actions,” Lightfoot said. “We had 23 points off turnovers today, so that was a positive area.”
Kansas will look to regroup in its next game against Oklahoma in Norman on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m.