Baylor struggles in 61-44 loss to No. 4 Jayhawks
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Baylor came into Allen Fieldhouse planning to score in the lane.
Instead, Kansas buckled down in the paint, blocked 13 shots and held the Bears to their worst offensive night of the season in a 61-44 loss to the fourth-ranked Jayhawks on Monday.
“I think we weren’t going strong the basket like we should have, like we usually do,” said A.J. Walton, who had seven points and four turnovers in 17 minutes.
Baylor was outscored 38-13 in the lane and shot just 23 percent for the game.
Pierre Jackson, who entered the game leading the Big 12 in scoring, finished with 10 points on 2-for-12 shooting. Isaiah Austin added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Bears (11-5, 3-1), who remain winless in 10 games in Allen Fieldhouse.
“We kind of played into their hand,” said Walton, whose team finished with 16 turnovers for the game. “Took quick shots, really didn’t take care of the ball at all.”
Ben McLemore scored 17 points before leaving in the final minutes with a right ankle injury for the Jayhawks (15-1, 3-0). Elijah Johnson added 12 points and Travis Releford had 10.
McLemore had just hit a 3-pointer and then scored an alley-oop dunk off a feed from Johnson to make it 61-42 with 2:44 remaining. The Jayhawks were back on offense when the star freshman turned his ankle, lying on the court for several minutes while a trainer examined it.
McLemore eventually stood up and was helped to the Kansas locker room.
Kansas coach Bill Self said afterward that McLemore had a Grade-1 sprain, “and if we were going to practice tomorrow, I wouldn’t let him practice.” But Self also was hopeful that McLemore won’t miss more than a few days, which means he could be back before Saturday’s game at Texas.
The injury was just about the only thing that didn’t go right for Kansas, which won its 14th straight game to match the fourth-longest streak in the Self era.
The Jayhawks used a pair of 10-3 runs to seize control in the first half, doing a good job of sharing the ball on offense and clogging up the interior on defense.
“I think coming into the game, if we said we’re going to hold Kansas to 61 points, we’d have taken that,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Kansas really did a great job defensively.”
Baylor was just 4 of 25 from inside the 3-point arc in the first half — two of the makes were easy put-backs by Austin and Jackson — while the Jayhawks, one of the top shot-swatting teams in the nation, managed two blocks each from five different players.
The Bears carried over their offensive struggles from Saturday, when they trudged their way to a 51-40 win over TCU. They committed nine first-half turnovers against one of the nation’s premier defenses, and only had a single assist to show for six made field goals.
Still, they were within 23-18 on Austin’s 3-pointer with 5:26 left before Kansas went on a 10-2 run to finish the half. Five different players scored during the spurt.
The run was nearly derailed when Releford was called for a flagrant offensive foul, much to Self’s chagrin. But the Bears‘ Deuce Bello badly missed two free throws, and Jackson was stuffed on a drive to the basket to leave Kansas ahead 33-20 at the break.
The Jayhawks stretched the lead to 42-23 early in the second half before Baylor trimmed it to 47-34 with 10:32 remaining on a run of free throws by Gary Franklin and A.J. Walton.
It was the closest the Bears had been since halftime.
Kansas again stretched the lead on a couple baskets by McLemore sandwiched around an easy inside look from Jeff Withey. And when Austin hit from 15 feet with 6:51 left to trim the deficit to 15, Johnson drove the lane and converted a three-point play as the shot-clock was expiring.
Austin’s 3-pointer got Baylor within 56-42 with 4:18 left, but McLemore poured in his own from the top of the key and then threw down his signature dunk in transition.
It would have been the exclamation mark on a blowout win.
Instead, his injury left a sellout crowd inside Allen Fieldhouse quiet as the final seconds ticked off the clock on the Jayhawks’ fourth win in their last five games against Baylor.
“My heart dropped, to see something like that. You don’t want to see nothing bad happen to him,” Johnson said. “I think he moreso panicked than anything. That has a lot to do with it sometimes. I think he’ll be all right. Ben will bounce back.”