Big Monday: Baylor vs Kansas

Scott Drew is undefeated against Bill Self after March 1st (2-0) but the Bears have never defeated Kansas in the regular season under Drew. Monday night before a national ESPN audience is an opportunity to do that.

When: Jan 14
Time: 8pm CST
TV: ESPN

RPI and efficiency numbers

RPI: Baylor- 43; Kansas- 3; Prediction: Kansas 86 Baylor 65
KenPom: Baylor- 28; Kansas- 7; Prediction- Kansas 77 Baylor 65

KP Offensive Efficiency: Baylor- 19; Kansas- 12
KP Defensive Efficiency: Baylor- 80; Kansas- 11

What each team excels at

Baylor: Field goal percentage (39); Not turning it over (30); Not fouling (36); Offensive rebounding (91)
Kansas: Field goal percentage (14); defensive field goal percentage (3)

Weaknesses

Baylor: Controlling defensive boards (220); getting to the foul line (222)
Kansas: Creating turnovers (247); offensive rebounds (170)

Backcourts

Baylor: Pierre Jackson (19 pts; 4 reb; 6 asst; 2 st); Brady Heslip (9 pts; 1 reb; 2/1 Ast/TO); AJ Walton (7 pts; 4 reb; 4.5 asst; 2 st)

Kansas: Elijah Johnson (10 pts; 3 reb; 5.5 asst; 1 st; 3 turn); Ben McLemore (16 pts; 5 reb; 2 asst; 1 st; 2 turn); Travis Releford (13 pts; 3 reb; 3 asst)

Advantage: Kansas- size, skill and experience with Johnson and Releford. Probably the best backcourt in the country.

Frontcourt

Baylor: Isaiah Austin (15 pts; 8 reb); Cory Jefferson (14 pts; 8 reb; 2.3 blks)

Kansas: Jeff Withey (13 pts; 8 reb; 5 blks); Kevin Young (8 pts; 7 reb)

Advantage: Baylor- Hard to pick against Kansas here because Withey and Young are much better defenders than Austin/Jefferson. But because Austin and Jefferson have proven to be reliable scoring threats I give them the nod.

Bench

Baylor: Gary Franklin (4 pts; 2/1 Ast/TO); Rico Gathers (6 pts; 5 reb); Deuce Bello (3 pts; 2 reb)

Kansas: Naadir Tharpe (5 pts; 3 asst); Perry Ellis (5 pts; 4 reb); Jamari Traylor (3 pts; 3 reb)

Advantage: Even- perhaps a slight nod to Kansas. The bench play might decide this game if Baylor can keep Kansas' backcourt from having career nights.

Keys to beating Kansas

1. Laser sharp mental focus. No lead is safe. Missouri last year got up big on them and ended up losing. Strive to win every 4 minute timeout segment.

2. Make your 3 point shots. Kansas doubles the post aggressively. Withey makes it difficult to score inside. They are vulnerable from 3 point land. Heslip and Jackson will need to be on their game from the outside. Anything that Austin, Franklin and Walton can give in terms of 3 point accuracy will be a bonus. Kansas is #1 in 2 point field goal defense and #87 in 3 point field goal defense. Iowa State made 14 three pointers against them in the conference opener. It may take a game with over 10 made three pointers to beat them.

3. Defensively, it is pick your poison because they shoot it well from the outside (Tharpe, McLemore, Releford, Johnson all over 36%). I think you need to defend them straight up and control the glass. They hurt you if you double team them and they don't have a dominant low post offensive player as they have had in the past. They are not a strong offensive rebounding team so you must control the defensive glass.

4. Attack Withey at the rim. When you fade away or try to shoot over him, he gets blocks. If you can get him in foul trouble, Kansas has issues. But he does a really good job of not fouling. Baylor has to follow the playbook that they executed against Texas and aggressively attack the rim to create offensive rebounding opportunities and trips to the foul line.

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