In Big 12 conference action, a pair of Top-5 teams slug it out with the #4 Baylor Bears (12-1) visiting the #3 Kansas Jayhawks (12-2), where the Bears have yet to win in 17 consecutive attempts.
Baylor is riding an 11-game winning streak, including a key, 57-52 victory over #22 Texas Tech earlier in the week.
Baylor’s stifling defense allows 58.4 points per game, which is ranked #9 in scoring defense in the nation. The Bears will be tasked with stopping Kansas’ dynamic duo of guard Devon Dotson and center Udoka Azubuike.
#4 Baylor Bears (12-1) at #3 Kansas Jayhawks (12-2)
Tip-off: 10am PT
Location: Allen Field House, Lawrence, Kansas
Point Spread: Kansas -7.5
Money Line: KU -360 / BU +280
Kansas comes into this game with a three-game winning streak, including two road wins (at Stanford and at Iowa State), and a 7-point victory over #16 West Virginia. After losing the first game of the season to #4 Duke by two points, Kansas won nine in a row before they lost to #18 Villanova by a single point.
The top ranking in college hoops has been a hot potato, and Kansas has been one of six different teams that held the #1 spot at some point this season.
Kansas: The Dotson and Azubuike Show
Kansas got off to a slow start against Iowa State, but finished up superbly to secure the 12th win of the season for the Jayhawks.
Marcus Garrett, a junior guard averaging 8.6 points, is the top defender for Kansas. He twisted his ankle against Iowa State, but returned to finish the game.
“I thought our guys did great,” Kansas head coach Bill Self told reporters. “I didn’t think we guarded early and they made shots, we made shots. After about that 10-minute mark of the first half, I thought we guarded them and did a good job locking them up.”
Dotson, a sophomore guard, averages 18.6 points per game. He led all scorers with 20 points against Iowa State. Azubuike, a senior and 7-foot center, leads the nation with an astounding 80 percent shooting from the floor. That’s not a typo. The highly-efficient Azubuike doesn’t take a lot of shots, but when he does, he knocks them down while averaging 13.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
Baylor: Three Guard Offense and No Easy Buckets
Jared Butler, a 6-foot-3 guard, leads Baylor with 16.3 points per game. He’s coming off one of the poorest performances of the season against Texas Tech, when the Red Raiders shut him down. Butler is ready to bounce back with a big game against Kansas.
MaCio Teague, another 6-foot-3 guard, brings intensity on both ends of the court. Teague is Baylor’s second-leading scorer, averaging 14.5 points per game. He’s also coming off a rough game against Texas Tech in which he scored a season-low, seven points.
Davion Mitchell, a sophomore guard, stepped up and scored 14 points to lead Baylor to a conference win over Texas Tech.
“Very proud of our guys from this standpoint,” said head coach Scott Drew. “We knew it was going to be a rock fight. You had two great defenses and two teams that really pride themselves on the defensive end.”
Baylor’s air-tight defense will be the key to keeping them in this tough road game against Kansas in Lawrence. The Bears allow opponents to shoot only 37.8 percent against them.
Senior Freddie Gillespie, a 6-foot-9 forward, is the heart and soul of Baylor’s defense. Gillespie only averages 8.7 points per game, but he leads the Bears in rebounding with 9.5 boards per game.