The Baylor Bears will take on the Kansas Jayhawks for the first time this year. These two teams have almost the same record and similarly good rosters, so this game will go down to the wire. The Jayhawks have a home-court advantage in one of the loudest stadiums in the country, so look for them to use the crowd to their advantage.
The Baylor Bears are a guard-heavy team. Their five leading scorers are all guards. Four of those five guards average ten or more points a game. Even though Baylors’ guards shoulder a lot of the scoring load, Baylor’s forwards are great rebounders and strong defenders.
The Kansas Jayhawks should have Ochai Agbaji ready for this game. If they were to play without him, I would pick Baylor to win. However, I am going to bet that he plays, and that is why I am choosing the Jayhawks to win. Outside of Agabaji, the Jayhawks have a great shooting guard in Christian Braun, a good defensive and rebounding forward in David McCormack, and a couple of other productive guards.
Kansas beats Baylor 70-67.
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|Scott Drew||Head Coach||Bill Self|
|19-3 (7-2, 2nd in Big 12)||Standing||18-3 (7-1, 1st in Big 12)|
|Leader (Per Game)|
|LJ Cryer (13.9)||PPG||Ochai Agbaji (20.9)|
|Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (7.2)||RPG||Jalen Wilson (6.9)|
|James Akinjo (5.6)||APG||Dajuan Harris Jr. (3.7)|
|James Akinjo (2.2)||SPG||Dajuan Harris Jr. (1.4)|
|Flo Thamba (1.0)||BPG||Christian Braun (1.1)|
|Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (.675)||FG%||Mitch Lightfoot (.625)|
|LJ Cryer (.467)||3P%||Ochai Agbaji (.464)|
Even though I am picking Kansas to win this game, Baylor could come out with a victory. However, if they really want to win, they need to focus on guarding Kansas’ outside shot on defense and feeding the hot hand on offense.
Kansas is one of the better three-point shooting teams in the Big 12. They hit 36.5% of their three-point attempts. Not only does Kansas shoot three-pointers well, but they take a lot of three-pointers. They have made almost 200 this season and depend on a lot of their scoring to come from behind the arc. Baylor needs to guard that shot and either force Kansas to take bad three-pointers or force them to look inside for shots.
Baylor does not have one bona fide star on their team; instead, they have a handful of guys who can score efficiently. When a team does not have a star, one player may end up having a big game. Baylor needs to let that one player have a big game and give him many opportunities to score.
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The Jayhawks have the noticeable edge of playing at home, but it will still be a very challenging matchup. They need to avoid creating turnovers and outrebound Baylor if they want to pull out a victory.
Baylor is great at creating turnovers. They average 9.5 steals per game, 12th-best in the nation. The Jayhawks cannot allow them to continually swipe the ball away from them the whole game. They will not take enough shots and have enough scoring opportunities if they do. The Jayhawks need to secure the ball and make sure they know where the Baylor guards are at all times.
Kansas and Baylor grab almost the same amount of rebounds each game. They are also very similarly sized and guard-heavy. Typically, the team with more rebounds wins the game. That is why Kansas needs to fight for every board and outrebound Baylor. They will probably win if they do.
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Guard James Akinjo is having a nice season for Baylor. He is averaging 13.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 2.2 steals.
Akinjo is making a positive contribution on both sides of the floor and every major statistical category. That is why the guard from Oakland, CA is the most impactful player on this team.
Kansas needs to make James Akinjo priority #1 on defense and always be aware of his whereabouts on offense. If they do not, Akinjo will score on them or swipe the ball away from them.
I would normally pick Ochai Agbaji as the Jayhawks Key Player. However, there is a chance he will not play in this game, so I picked the next most crucial piece, Christian Braun. Braun is an underrated guard and having a productive season.
Braun is an efficient scorer, averaging 15.1 points per game on 50.6% shooting. He also grabs 5.7 rebounds per game, passes for 3.2 assists per game, and leads the Jayhawks with 1.1 blocks per game. Braun, like Akinjo, impacts both sides of the floor.
The Baylor defense cannot let Braun get open shots or drive to the hoop. He can score both of those ways and put up a lot of points.
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|No. 8 Baylor vs No. 10 Kansas Information|
|What||No. 8 Baylor vs No. 10 Kansas|
|Where||Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kansas|
|When||Saturday, February 5, 4:00 PM EST|
|How to Watch||ESPN|
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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