No. 4 Kansas survived a scare by knocking off No. 13 Baylor 64-61 at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. Baylor star freshman Ja’Kobe Walter missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer at the top of the key that would’ve sent the game to overtime.
Kansas (19-5, 7-4 Big 12) picked up its sixth Quad 1 win and they did so without star guard Kevin McCullar Jr., who missed his second game of the season because of a nagging knee injury. Kansas guard Dajuan Harris Jr. appeared to roll his ankle in the second half but returned for the final three minutes of game action to help his team jump Baylor for third place in the Big 12 standings.
The Jayhawks have won six of its last nine games after suffering a road loss to UCF in the second conference game of the season. Four of five Kansas starters finished the game in double-figures, which included star big man Hunter Dickinson scoring a team-high 15 points.
Baylor (17-6, 6-4) saw its three-game conference win streak snapped with the loss. The Bears came into the weekend with consecutive wins over UCF, Iowa State and Texas Tech to inch closer to the top of the conference standings after a three-game losing streak to end the month of January.
Baylor freshman Yves Missi scored a game-high 21 points, while Walter added 17. The Bears didn’t record a field goal in the final 4:32, while Kansas ended the game 1 of 10 from the floor.
Kansas responds in big way without McCullar
The last week has been a rollercoaster for Kansas. The Jayhawks recorded their biggest win last weekend over Houston in Allen Fieldhouse, and they followed up that performance by losing to in-state rival Kansas State on the road. Days later … you guessed it, Kansas responded in a big way and did so without its best player. It also won despite star point guard, Dajuan Harris Jr. playing on a bum ankle for the final minutes of regulation after going to the locker room to have the injury examined.
Even after three months into the season, it’s hard to find a floor because of how inconsistent Kansas has been. The Jayhawks could be a first-weekend exit in the tournament or win it all because the ceiling is a championship. Knocking off a top-15 opponent in conference play without key reinforcements gives Kansas not only a resume boost but also should give the team some confidence for the stretch run of Big 12 play.
Yves Missi is taking a star turn
The talk of the town in Waco, Texas, has been about Ja’Kobe Walter and for good reason. The former five-star recruit came into the season with a tremendous amount of hype, and for the most part, Walter has met most of those expectations. But Baylor coach Scott Drew has the luxury of having not one but two star first-year players as Yves Missi is becoming a star.
The Baylor big man scored a game-high 21 points and added eight rebounds just days after scoring 17 points in a win over Texas Tech. Missi also had the best game of his career two weeks ago when he scored 25 points against TCU. While his scoring output is impressive, it’s Missi’s defensive game that’s turning heads.
Missi will skyrocket up draft boards if he continues on this trajectory. Drew is also going to depend on him to sustain this level of play if the Bears want to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament next month.