Baylor bounced back from an overtime loss to Kansas State last month to win 10 of its next 11 games.
After losing their last outing, the No. 9 Bears (20-7, 9-5 Big 12) will seek a similar resurgence when they visit the No. 12 Wildcats (20-7, 8-6) on Tuesday in Manhattan, Kan.
Baylor erupted for 45 points in the first half on Saturday only to yield 55 in the second of an 87-71 setback to Kansas. The Bears’ 3-point shooting efficiency in each half told the tale of the game; they went 9-for-14 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes and 1 of 11 in the last 20.
“As well as they (the Bears) were going first half, as bad as they went second half,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said in his postgame radio interview. “We completely let our offense affect our defense. We did such a good job in transition defense the first half, only gave up two points. Second half you just got to credit Kansas. They did a great job turning up defensive intensity and we turned it over too much.”
Adam Flagler scored 22 points and Keyonte George drained five 3-pointers to highlight his 20-point performance.
“We got to accept the fact they played harder than us in the second half,” George said. “They got better shots than us and we didn’t rebound. Things we usually do we didn’t do in the second half, and you see what happened.”
Flagler scored 23 points and George added 22 in Baylor’s 97-95 overtime loss to Kansas State on Jan. 7. George, however, misfired on all five of his attempts from 3-point range in that game.
“It will be another tough road environment,” Drew said of facing the Wildcats, who boast a 14-1 record at home. “I know (Kansas State first-year coach and longtime Baylor assistant Jerome Tang) has done a tremendous job with their crowd. It’s always been a tough place to play, but they’ve really done a good job of coming out and supporting those guys. We know how good they are; they beat us at our place.”
Markquis Nowell, who erupted for 32 points and 14 assists in the previous meeting with Baylor, scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half of the Wildcats’ 61-55 victory over No. 19 Iowa State on Saturday.
Nowell stressed the importance of setting the tone early in the second half.
“It was very important because we know the first five minutes are important,” Nowell said. “And you know I told my guys we can’t come out lackadaisical. We’ve got to come out with energy, and that’s what we did.”
Tang said giving his players rest and shortened practices over the previous few days went a long way toward giving his team a boost.
“You know that line in Miracle on Ice, ‘Legs feed the (wolf),’ and that’s what we didn’t have the last few games, especially the Oklahoma game (a 79-65 loss on Feb. 14). I thought (Saturday) we had legs because of how we prepared and actually more of what we didn’t do, rather than what we did do.”
Keyontae Johnson has team-leading averages in points (17.4) and rebounds (7.4) on the season. Nowell contributes 16.9 points and a club-best 7.5 assists per contest.
–Field Level Media