No. 2 Bears quash No. 9 Kansas in blockbuster matchup

Baylor guard Jared Butler scores over Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot, left, in the second quarter. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald, pool) | Courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

Baylor men’s basketball avenged last seasons’ sole home defeat as they took down the No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks 77-69 in an emphatic victory Monday night at the Ferrell Center.

After scoring only seven points in Saturday’s game against Texas Tech, junior guard Jared Butler had a bounce-back performance, leading the game with 30 points and eight assists. Junior guard Davion Mitchell and senior guard MaCio Teague also reached double digits, scoring 10 and 13 points each.

“God is so in control of my life,” Butler said. “I just try to adjust to his plan and my teammates did a great job finding me.”

Baylor sprinted out to an 11-2 lead and never looked back. The early run was capped by a spectacular alley-oop from sophomore guard Adam Flagler to senior forward Mark Vital.

Baylor continued to pour onto its lead, scoring five consecutive points out of the first media timeout and forcing Kansas head coach Bill Self to take his first timeout of the game.

The timeout didn’t seem to calm the Jayhawks down, however. A chase-down block from Vital sparked another five-point run from the Bears which put Baylor up 26-13 and forced Self to take Kansas’ second of the game.

Butler set the tone in the first half, scoring a game-high 17 points while hitting 4 threes. His fourth three of the half gave Baylor its largest lead of the game, 16 points, with four minutes left to play in the half.

Both teams shot the ball well from behind the arc in the first half, as both made a staggering 56% of their shots from deep. Despite the Jayhawks’ stellar shooting performance, Baylor led by 13 at the half, 41-28.

Kansas was able to make up some ground in the second half and keep the game competitive. The Jayhawks slowly clawed their way back into the game and cut the lead to five with just under ten minutes left in the game.

Jayhawk guards Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji were the lone bright spots for Kansas, as the duo combined for 33 of the Jayhawks’ 69 points.

Baylor would immediately respond, however, as the Bears went on a 9-0 run that was started by an monster alley-oop from Butler to Vital and ended by an easy layup from sophomore forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua which forced Kansas to spend its final timeout.

“Those are momentum plays,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said about Vital’s alley-oop slam. “Those really get the crowd involved and our players feed off of that.”

Kansas came out of the timeout with its own 9-0 run to cut the lead back to five, 65-60, with three minutes to go. It would turn out to not be enough for Kansas, as Butler and Teague would both score clutch buckets to put the game away for the Bears.

“We got in the huddle and talked it out,” Vital said. “Normally, younger guys and when I was young, we used to get a little messed up, thinking ‘Oh man, they cut the lead to five’, but nah, we just talked it out and eventually we just went back out there and did what we had to do.”

In five games against Kansas, Butler has averaged an impressive 23 points per game. Butler said the big-game atmosphere the matchups with the Jayhawks provide give him the motivation he needs to play well.

“Whenever we play Kansas, it’s supposed to be a big game, and I love big games. I love big moments,” Butler said. “It’s my will and competitiveness.”

With the win, Baylor improves to 13-0 on the season and remains undefeated. The Bears’ next game will be Saturday at 1:00 p.m. against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. The game will be televised on CBS.