No. 4 Baylor accomplished Saturday what it has never done before: winning inside Allen Fieldhouse. The Bears took down No. 3 Kansas 67-55, improving to 13-1 on the season by beating the Jayhawks on the road for the first time in program history, snapping an 0-17 skid that started in 1951.
The win knocked out all sorts of never-before-dones in Baylor history:
- Recording its first win as a top five team vs. a top five team
- Winning its first five matchups against ranked teams in a single season, and
- Getting its first road win over a top-five team.
And for the first time this season, Baylor, as a result, should be considered a legitimate threat to win the Big 12 -- and maybe a whole lot more. Wins over Villanova, Arizona, Butler, Texas and Texas Tech were already big bullets on Baylor's burgeoning resume, but winning on the road inside Allen Fieldhouse -- where Bill Self had only lost 13 times in his KU career prior to Saturday -- sets the Bears, who are 3-0 in the Big 12, up for a newfound level of national respect. AP voters may be giving Baylor a hard look when considering who to put No. 1 on Monday when the rankings update.
The way in which the Bears knocked down the door Saturday should be part of that consideration. They rode a 22-4 run to build a 13-point halftime lead, withstood a fast and furious run by KU (12-3, 2-1) in the second half, and cruised to its most impressive victory on the season.
Let's get to a few takeaways from the game.
1. Baylor's paint presence and defense was the difference: 7-foot Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike certainly made his presence felt -- he posted a career-high seven blocks -- but Baylor still managed to outscore Kansas 28-26 in the paint on the day. A big credit to that end goes to Baylor's defense, which scored 21 points (!!) off its 14 forced turnovers. That was really the difference in the game despite KU getting a ton of production off the bench. Baylor's pressure forced Kansas into a ton of mistakes, particularly in the second half.
This is a theme we've seen scattered about the Jayhawks' season in losses that has plagued them: in their season-opener, they turned it over 28 times, losing 68-66 to Duke. Kansas has arguably the best point guard in the league with Devon Dotson, but costly decision-making elsewhere -- namely Marcus Garrett and Ochai Agbaji, who committed four and three turnovers respectively -- are difficult to overcome for any team (even one with a decided home advantage).
2. KU rarely loses at home: As noted above, Self historically has been unbeatable inside Allen Fieldhouse. Since he took over the program in 2003, he's lost just 14 times at home -- the exact amount of times he's won the Big 12 regular season conference championship since he arrived at KU nearly two decades ago. Had Scott Drew and Baylor lost, Drew would have had the same amount of losses inside Allen Fieldhouse (13) as Self.
3. Kansas optimism still abounds: If you're ready to jump ship and sell stock in KU, I'll allow it: but only because I need more leg room on this ride. Kansas is still really, really good. It took a stellar all-around outing from Baylor (8-of-19 shooting from 3-point range; five turnovers; 14 forced turnovers) to do what it had never done before. Play this game 10 times, and KU wins it seven, maybe eight times. It still has an All-American in Dotson, an immovable force in Azubuike, and a Hall of Famer in Self. Add in the emergence of transfer Isaiah Moss, who scored 15 -- his second double-digit outing in four games -- and there's reason to hold your KU stock. Self's teams gradually get better and more disciplined as the season moves along.