NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Baylor

Jan 18, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears guard MaCio Teague (31) looks to make a move on Kansas Jayhawks guard Christian Braun (2) during the first half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Despite some last-ditch efforts to close the gap, No. 9 Kansas men’s basketball fell to No. 2 Baylor on the road 77-69 Monday night.

The Jayhawks — coming off a 75-70 road loss to Oklahoma State last Tuesday — had previously won their last 29 games coming off a loss in Big 12 play. 

Sophomore guard Christian Braun and junior guard Ochai Agbaji were the Jayhawks' saving grace offensively. Braun posted 17 points and four rebounds — shooting 5-for-6 from deep — and Agbaji finished the game with 16 points, two rebounds and two steals. 

As a team, Kansas shot 48% from the field and 53% from three-point range. 

That didn’t matter, though, as the backcourt of Baylor proved once again why the Bears are one of the top teams in the nation. Junior guard Jared Butler led the way with 30 points and eight assists, shooting 7-for-9 from three-point range. 

Senior guard MaCio Teague and junior guard Davion Mitchell were also key on both ends, combining for 23 points and six steals.

It didn’t take long for the Bears to set the tone, whether it be the overwhelming play on the court or feeding off the limited capacity crowd in the Ferrell Center. Butler scored 15 points in the first 11 minutes of the game, and the Bears were rolling. 

Agbaji and Braun knocked down a trio of three-pointers in an attempt to stop the early bleeding, but Baylor maintained control midway through the first half. What made matters worse was Kansas’ foul trouble, with junior forward David McCormack and redshirt senior forward each picking a pair inside.

Kansas was also outscored 20-10 by Baylor in the paint in the first half, and 12-2 in points off turnovers.

But Braun kept the Jayhawks in the game, sinking another three-pointer and getting to the line to make a pair of free throws. Braun scored a team-high 14 points and grabbed three rebounds in the first half, shooting 4-for-4 from three-point range. 

Baylor's offense also hit a bit of a lull late in the first half, but the Bears still went into halftime with a 41-28 lead. The Bears led by as many as 16 points in the first half.

The Jayhawks kicked off the second half with more composure after a pair of three-pointers from Agbaji, bringing them within nine points. Agbaji — who scored just three points in the first half — came alive after the break when Kansas needed him most.

Later, McCormack helped out with a jumper off an assist by senior guard Marcus Garrett to get within eight points. However, just when the Jayhawks looked to break through, McCormack drew his fourth foul soon after a big three-pointer by Mitchell.

And despite another three-pointer by Agbaji, the Bears extended the lead back out to 13 points after sophomore guard Adam Flagler’s and-one opportunity. 

Lightfoot, after fouling Flagler, led the charge on the other end with a dunk, sparking an 8-0 Kansas run. Sophomore guard/forward Tristan Enaruna also recorded his first points of the night, helping cut the deficit to five points. 

Baylor responded with a 7-0 run of its own, extending the lead back out to 14, led by Butler, Teague, senior guard/forward Mark Vital, and sophomore forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. 

Braun — scoring his first points of the second half — hit his fifth three-pointer of the game to give Kansas some life with 5:36 left to play. Shortly after, back-to-back jumpers by Garrett and McCormack and a dunk by redshirt freshman forward Jalen Wilson cut the lead to five.

But the Bears didn’t let up, answering with another three-pointer by Butler. The backcourt trio of Butler, Mitchell and Teague went on a 7-2 run to ice the game keep their perfect season alive.

Kansas will next face Oklahoma on the road Saturday. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m.