By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer
With a three-game winning streak on the line, No. 13 Baylor men’s basketball will take on its third-straight AP Top 25 opponent in No. 4 Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. The Phog is also the site of ESPN College Gameday, and the marquee matchup is set to tipoff at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The Bears (17-5, 6-3 Big 12) are just 1-20 all-time when playing in Lawrence, yet they are one of only four teams to win at Allen Fieldhouse in the last five seasons.
“One of the main things I would tell them that it’s just a court, just another arena,” graduate student forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “Yes, they have great history, but at the end of the day it’s just a basketball court. Been there, won there. It’s just going to be a great team against another one.”
Head coach Scott Drew and the Bears sit in second place in the Big 12 standings with an opportunity to pole vault one game ahead of trailing teams. But the team is treating it like any other game, according to Drew.
“We know where we’re at in the standings, and at the end of the day, every game counts as one,” Drew said. “You come to Baylor to play in big games. Every game is a big game. But a lot of people think that College Gameday’s just stand out a little bit more.”
Baylor has the tough task of containing Kansas’ (18-5, 6-4 Big 12) experienced roster, one that includes senior center Hunter Dickinson, who’s currently in the National Player of the Year race. Drew said the team’s goal is to limit Dickinson, even if that may be impossible.
“I think it’s a blessing to have three quality big men like we have,” Drew said. “At the same time, Hunter is a walking double-double. And great players, you’re not going to stop. You just want to contain and make it as difficult as possible.”
Junior guard Jayden Nunn added that a test like this gives Baylor the opportunity to cement its status as a conference-title contender.
“We don’t feel like we’ve accomplished anything, really,” Nunn said of the team’s three-game winning streak. “We feel like we have more to accomplish. Some of the games we lost, we’re still mad about losing. We’re looking to do more.”
The Bears may be without the highest scoring bench player in the Big 12 on Saturday. Drew said redshirt sophomore guard Langston Love is considered a game-time decision after he limped off late in the second half against Texas Tech on Tuesday.