No. 13 Baylor men’s basketball misses game-tying shots, falls at No. 4 Kansas 64-61

Freshman guard Ja'Kobe Walter (4) scored in double figures for the 15th time this season (17) and the first time since Jan. 27 against TCU in Waco. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer

No. 13 Baylor men’s basketball missed a pair of game-tying shots in the final 15 seconds, allowing No. 4 Kansas to skate away with a 64-61 victory on Saturday night at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.

Head coach Scott Drew and the Bears (17-6, 6-4 Big 12) endured their lowest-scoring game of the season while forfeiting a season-high 21 turnovers, and they knocked down just 19 shots. All four losses for Baylor in Big 12 play have come by four points or less, for a combined margin of 12 points.

“You’ll never beat anybody of quality, let alone Kansas, with 21 turnovers,” Drew said after the game. “That was the area that will we’ll focus on the most trying to get better at. I’m happy with holding them to 43% [from the field]. We win games like that. We did a great job on the glass, 15-4 on second chance points.

“But if [Patrick] Mahomes throws six picks, [the Kansas City Chiefs] are not going to win tomorrow [in the Super Bowl].”

Freshman center Yves Missi led the charge for Baylor with 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor with a career-high nine made free throws on 12 attempts. Missi added eight rebounds and an assist for his outing. Freshman guard Ja’Kobe Walter was the only other Bear in double figures with 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field.

The Jayhawks (19-5, 7-4 Big 12) came out of the gate strong, jumping out to a 14-4 lead behind senior center Hunter Dickinson. The Bears trailed by double digits for most of the first half and even went without a field goal for a five-minute stretch.

Baylor picked up momentum when Walter was fouled taking a 3-pointer with 5:59 to play in the half. After the foul was called, Kansas head coach Bill Self was awarded a technical foul, and Walter knocked down five-straight free throws. Despite cutting the lead to one possession a few minutes later, the Jayhawks took a 34-28 lead into the break.

Within striking distance throughout the second half, Baylor trailed for more than 38 minutes dating back to the first half. Turnover trouble continued, as Kansas was able to score 17 points off of Baylor’s 21 turnovers. In addition, the Bears were only able to muster three points off the bench.

Trailing by three with 29.2 seconds left, Baylor forced a turnover, and senior guard RayJ Dennis pushed the ball down the court. Driving with his left hand, he pulled a defender out of the left corner and found a wide-open shot for junior guard Jayden Nunn. The VCU transfer clanked the shot off the front rim, and Baylor was unable to get the rebound, which led to an intentional foul on a Jayhawk with 5.1 seconds to play.

With a one-and-one opportunity, Kansas senior guard Nicolas Timberlake missed the first free throw, and Walter grabbed the rebound. Walter bolted up the middle of the court, and after receiving a screen, took a wide-open 3-pointer at the buzzer that came up just short, giving Kansas the 64-61 win. The Jayhawks missed nine of their last ten shots while the Bears missed their last five and went without a field goal for the final 4:32.

The Bears will look to bounce back against Oklahoma (17-6, 5-5 Big 12) in their final matchup as Big 12 opponents. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Tuesday at Foster Pavilion.