No. 17 Kansas Hands Jared Butler, No. 2 Baylor 1st Loss in Big 12 UpsetFebruary 28, 2021
No. 2 Baylor is undefeated no more after No. 17 Kansas stunned one of the favorites to reach the Final Four, 71-58, at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday.
It's a signature win for a KU team that has struggled to show it can hang with top programs this season, and it could end up moving the Jayhawks (18-8, 12-6 Big 12) back into the Associated Press Top 10 with two weeks until Selection Sunday.
Led by David McCormack and Marcus Garrett, Kansas held Baylor's backcourt of Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell to just 18 points as KU's home-court advantage proved too much for the Bears to overcome. BU (18-1, 10-1 Big 12) now has just one win in 16 attempts at Allen Fieldhouse. Only a month ago, the Jayhawks were reeling after losing five of nine games in the Big 12. A five-game winning streak at the start of February helped turn that around.
Now a win over arguably the best team in the country has the Jayhawks peaking as the calendar turns to March while the Bears look to iron out any lingering mistakes before attempting their own run through the NCAA tournament.
David McCormack, F, Kansas Jayhawks: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks
Marcus Garrett, G, Kansas Jayhawks: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists
MaCio Teague, G, Baylor Bears: 18 points, 8 rebounds
Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor Bears: 13 points, 3 assists
McCormack, Rebounding Power Jayhawks
McCormack began the season as the most replaceable starter in the Jayhawks' lineup. As the calendar turns to March, he's now unquestionably their most important player.
No proof was necessary beyond his Saturday performance as KU knocked off one of the few remaining unbeatens in college basketball. The forward who posted just six points in a loss at Baylor when the two teams met in mid-January scored Kansas' first eight points of the game on four-of-four shooting. McCormack wouldn't miss a field goal until there were 16 minutes left in regulation and Kansas up six.
With the Bears dependent on their guards to hit their outside shots to open up a path to rim, McCormack helped erase a number of Baylor drives throughout play. It wasn't just that the best three-point shooting team in the country (43.2 percent) went six-for-26 behind the arc on Saturday. It's that the Bears hardly grabbed their own misses.
Kansas out-rebounded Baylor an astounding 48-28 margin, which led to 17 second-chance points for the Jayhawks. More than 30 of those rebounds came on Baylor misses.
The best chance the Bears had to take back the lead came late in the second half when McCormack—who'd played through foul trouble for most of the night—picked up his fourth personal with six minutes remaining. Head coach Bill Self had little choice but to sub-out his defensive anchor with KU leading, 56-51.
The Bears just weren't able to take advantage. Kansas went on a 12-3 run with McCormack on the sideline that was halted only by the under-four minute media timeout, which allowed Self to put McCormack back on the floor.
For a starter who struggled to score more than 10 points per game over the first half of the season, McCormack has made himself indispensable on both ends of the floor. The Bears got to witness the transformation first hand and it cost them their perfect season.
Bears No Longer Perfect
It turns out the Bears will not be the first team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to go undefeated en route a national championship. That doesn't mean Baylor won't still be able to cut down the nets in April, there's just a bit more work to be done before then.
What happened to head coach Scott Drew and Co. is exactly what they can't allow to take place moving forward.
Butler didn't score his first points until 10 minutes into the second half, then fouled out. Mitchell couldn't create his own shot. Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua didn't record a single rebound. If this looked like a Baylor team that hadn't played in weeks, that might be because it is.
Due to the pandemic, Baylor had a number of games rescheduled that kept them off the floor from Feb 2. to Feb. 23. A home game against a last-place Iowa State team last week may have helped the Bears tune up for Kansas, but it's clear this was not the Bears at their best.
Perhaps with the pressure of an undefeated record no longer on their shoulders, and with a loss that exposed plenty of flaws, the Bears can return to dominating their opponents. That just wasn't the case on Saturday.
Instead it looked more like a typical matchup between Bill Self and Scott Drew: two talented teams fighting for a lead in the first half only for Kansas to run away with the game over the final 20 minutes.
Either way, the Jayhawks made the Bears pay. With three games over the next 10 days, Baylor doesn't have much time to dwell on the why. It just has to figure out how to get back to playing at the Final Four-level it maintained until Saturday.
Baylor faces a quick turnaround with a matchup against No. 10 West Virginia in Morgantown on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET, followed by a home game against Oklahoma State two days later in Waco. The Jayhawks, meanwhile, added a nonconference game against UTEP on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET after the Big 12 reconfigured its schedule due to the pandemic.