Kansas Jayhawks Look To Avoid Losing Streak Against Baylor Bears


Kansas Jayhawks guard Naadir Tharpe (10) Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas Jayhawks (16-5, 7-1) dropped their first Big 12 Conference game of the season Saturday against the Texas Longhorns. On Tuesday, they travel to Waco to face the dangerous Baylor Bears (14-7, 2-6).

Don’t be fooled by the Bears’ conference record. They were mired in a ferocious slump until their road win against Oklahoma State this past weekend. Before that slump, they were a top 10 team. They have the size, length, and athleticism to cause the Jayhawks some serious headaches.

Kansas did not look good against the Longhorns, especially against their zone. The Bears specialize in a mobile, aggressive zone that can cause a lot of problems for the Jayhawks if the Baylor players are focused and into the game.

Several players, including Naadir Tharpe, Andrew Wiggins, and Joel Embiid have struggled against zones, and it was no different against the Longhorns. These three in particular looked uncomfortable against the zone, and had trouble getting into any kind of flow offensively. The three need to maintain their same aggressiveness against the zone that they show against man-to-man.

Kansas Jayhawks forward Perry Ellis (34) Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Four Jayhawks score in double digits led by Andrew Wiggins at 16.0 a game, followed by Perry Ellis with 13.1, Joel Embiid with 11.2, and Wayne Selden, Jr. with 10.5.

Embiid is the top rebounder with 7.7 an outing, and Naadir Tharpe dishes out 5.3 assists a contest. Wiggins has 19 steals to lead the team, and Embiid has blocked 56 shots.

The Bears are led by Corey Jefferson who tallies 12.5 points and 8.4 rebounds a game. Kenny Chery puts up 11.0 points and 5 assists a contest. Isaiah Austin nets 10.2 a game.

Brady Heslip, who torched the Jayhawks for 19 on January 20th, went 6 for 9 from behind the arc in that game. For the season, Heslip scores 11.3 a game, and has nailed 62 of 131 three-point attempts for 47.3% on the season.

Kansas will have to do a better job keeping track of Heslip if they plan on beating Baylor on the road. They have really got to restrict his open looks.

Kansas was showing tiny signs of improvement on defense until the Texas game when they reverted back to their clueless ways on defense. Naadir Tharpe, for all of his maturity on the offensive end of the court, remains a terrible defender.

Several times during the loss to the Longhorns, Tharpe stood watching the ball with his hands at his sides as his man ran unattended around the court.

Tharpe shows very little court awareness or acumen on the defensive end of the floor. It is hard to fathom that Bill Self has not done a better job coaching Tharpe up in this part of his game.

Perry Ellis is almost as bad, getting pushed around on the inside. He is an instinctual scorer and rebounder, which makes it hard to believe how much he struggles playing defense.

These two players must be stronger on the defensive end if the Jayhawks hope to go deep in the NCAA tournament. These are the two most experienced Kansas players; they must be the leaders on both ends of the court.

The Baylor Bears are not to be taken lightly, especially at home. Their win against the Cowboys had to re-establish some of the confidence they displayed earlier in the season. The Jayhawks will have to be much better against the Bears than they were against the Longhorns if they want to avoid a small losing streak.

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