By Phillip Ericksen
In a memorable Senior Night for Baylor basketball, the Bears upset the No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks 81-58 Saturday. The Bears shot 58% from the field.
Senior guard Pierre Jackson led the way with 28 points and junior forward Cory Jefferson had 25. Jefferson, who had never made a 3-pointer in his career, was 3-3 from long distance.
“After all the close losses we’ve had, it was nice for Senior Night to end like that,” head coach Scott Drew said. “A coach can’t ask for anything better than that, playing a quality team and, personally, I think the best team in the nation in Kansas.”
Senior guard A.J. Walton added 12 points and freshman center Isaiah Austin had 11.
The Bears held the lead for the vast majority of the game. The Jayhawks went on a 10-0 run and cut the lead to six with about six minutes left to play, but Austin responded with a hook shot, starting a 6-0 run from the Bears.
“It’s a game of runs,” Jackson said. “Defending their best players and rebounding, that’s the game right there. We slowed the ball down and knew how much time was left.”
Both Jackson and Walton had steals and crowd-pleasing dunks in the final two minutes of the game, sealing the win for the Bears who are now 18-13 overall and 9-9 in conference play.
“I know we’ve been playing well, we just haven’t executed,” Drew said. “Tonight, Cory had an exceptional game. Pierre was the best player in the nation tonight, and that’s what I know we have guys capable of, and this is the time of year you want guys playing their best basketball.”
The Bears will start the Big 12 Tournament by facing Oklahoma State at 8:30 p.m. in Kansas City on Thursday, looking to improve their résumé and make their case to enter the NCAA Tournament.
“Baylor needed this game today based on what everybody says and they got it,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “They deserve to be in the tournament, and I think this will definitely put them in the field.”
Before the game Jackson, Walton, senior forward Jacob Neubert and their families were honored on the court and presented with framed jerseys.
“To see them have that last game something to remember the Ferrell Center by, for a coach, I’m just really pleased and happy for them,” Drew said.