By Daniel Hill
The Baylor Bears lost Saturday 81-61 to the No. 10 team in the nation, the Kansas State Wildcats. The Wildcats forced the Bears into 19 turnovers and dominated the second half of play.
Baylor played competitive basketball with Kansas State in the first half, but too many turnovers and mistakes led to the loss.
“I thought Kansas State showed why they are the 10th-ranked team in the nation,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “We have done a much better job of taking care of the ball in other games and in the backcourt. K-State forced us into 19 turnovers. So, hats off to their defense. The second thing was offensive rebounding. That was disappointing. Second chance points were 15-5 [in favor of] them, and that kind of sums up the game right there.”
Kansas State rattled the Bears by playing ferocious defense and by being well prepared for the Baylor offensive attack. Sophomore point guard Angel Rodriguez and senior forward Jordan Henriquez both recorded double-doubles for Kansas State. Rodriquez was the key cog in the Wildcats’ machine as he distributed the ball to his teammates for 10 assists and had 22 points of his own. Henriquez played valuable interior defense for the Wildcats. Henriquez had 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
“They played great defense,” junior guard Brady Heslip said. “They have some seriously good defenders. (Rodney) McGruder is a very good defender. (Angel) Rodriguez gets his hands in there and tips some loose balls. I do not know how many steals those two had together, but then you have (Jordan) Henriquez with some blocked shots. I had a couple of really bad turnovers that I wish I could get back, but credit to them. They played really well. They played really good defense too.”
Something Baylor has struggled with all season is the turnover bug. Senior point guard Pierre Jackson had five turnovers and freshman center Isaiah Austin committed three more.
Jackson credited the Kansas State defense for getting Baylor out of its rhythm.
“I felt that they sped us up a bit,” Jackson said. “I made a couple of careless mistakes that I do not usually do. That is credit to their coaching staff and getting the players in the right spot and executing.”
When Baylor got behind Kansas State, instead of trying to make the smart, consistent plays, the Bears tried to get back into contention by forcing the pace of the game and making mistakes.
“In this game tonight, we were trying to get those home run plays instead taking it and chipping away at each possession slowly, getting the stop and going out and executing,” Heslip said. “We will watch some film and learn from it.”
The Bears have a 16-9 overall record and are 7-5 in the Big 12 Conference. Baylor is tied with Iowa State and Oklahoma at 7-5. Kansas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State are all tied for first place with 9-3 records.
The Bears will take on the Iowa State Cyclones in a pivotal Big 12 matchup at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Ferrell Center.
The last time Baylor played Iowa State, the Bears lost 79-71 in Ames, Iowa, on Feb. 2.