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After a weekend full of upsets, this game features two teams that were involved in upsets, but on opposite ends. Kansas proved to be mortal losing their first Big 12 game by double-digits at Texas. Baylor, having lost six straight games, got a vital road win at Oklahoma State as double-digit underdogs.
These teams know each other well, with one needing another Top 15 win and the other just looking to get back on track. In the previous meeting this year, the Jayhawks led most of the way in a 78-68 win. They won the game by going 26-of-29 from the free-throw line, with no one on their team having shot more than eight field goals.
The Bears somehow pulled out a win on Saturday without one of their best players in point guard Kenny Chery. Gary Franklin played for him and finished with a solid 33 minutes of action. Due to a foot injury, Chery may be out for this game as well.
It's unlikely Kansas is going to draw 10 more fouls than Baylor again, especially in Waco. The Bears are a similar team to the Longhorns in that they both have the bigs to deal with the Jayhawks. Against most teams, KU can usually pound the ball down low and win the game in the frontcourt. That's where Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin come in for Baylor. While both have fallen off offensively, the two will be more important on the defensive end in this game.
Of course, the Bears won't be able to win if Franklin and Brady Heslip are any less of what they did last game. Franklin only had 11 points, but finished with some big shots at the end while Heslip put in 20 points with six three-pointers. Rico Gathers is another huge asset off the bench because he also has the size to deal with Kansas.
The Jayhawks know it will be a much harder battle this time around considering they were actually outrebounded in that previous matchup. Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Perry Ellis combined for 47 points in that game with 20 of those coming from the line. Baylor has the players to match up at all positions and where the Bears are weak, the Jayhawks also lack in the backcourt. Wayne Selden Jr. (10.5 PPG) and Naadir Tharpe (8.9 PPG, 5.3 APG) may be the x-factors in this one along with backup guard Frank Mason.
If Baylor wants a chance at the Big Dance, this game could be huge for their résumé, especially with home losses already to Texas and West Virginia. The Bears will be riding some momentum and that's the edge they'll have here as the Jayhawks are starting to look over their shoulders in the conference standings. A loss here for KU would put them in striking distance in the Big 12, although a win would make it seem as if nothing happened at Texas.
If Heslip and Baylor can't hit their shots early, it may come down to what Jefferson and Austin can do, and that's not a good thing. The two are averaging a combined 15.3 points per game over the last three. That kind of output won't cut it in this contest, especially against a team like the Jayhawks.
Predicted Score - Kansas 87 Baylor 71
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