Kansas Bearly Wins, 81-75

Marcus Morris (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

It was the kind of game Kansas coach Bill Self lives for: a grind-it-out Big 12 conference contest between two really good teams, and that's just what he got Wednesday night in Allen Field House.

The game between #3-ranked Kansas (17-1 overall, 3-0 conference) and the #22 Baylor Bears (14-3, 2-2) boiled down to the last three-and-a-half minutes Wednesday night at Allen Field House with the Jayhawks seemingly embracing crunch time and coming out on top, 81-75.

Sherron Collins said that Bill Self had been telling the team they needed to get back to being their old selves and enjoying pressure-packed situations.

"When the pressure comes, we have to love the pressure. I think we got our swagger back today," Collins said.

Self was very pleased with how his Jayhawks played – and not just in the last three-and-a-half minutes, either. Post-game, he was asked if he thought his team played "pretty good."

"We didn't play a 'pretty good' game," he assessed. "We played great."

"That's about as good as we can defend 'em, and they shoot 52%," Self continued. "(Baylor's) the best shot-makers of any team in our league, by far, and they make guarded shots. I thought Baylor played great, and I thought we played really well, also."

Collins lead the Jayhawks with 28 points, four assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes. Marcus Morris was key down the stretch and finished with 22 points and eight rebounds. Xavier Henry collected a dozen points and seven steals. Cole Aldrich had 10, and Tyshawn Taylor played 15 valuable minutes, kicking in five assists against no turnovers and defended Baylor star LaceDarius Dunn very well, according to Self.

As usual, Self heaped praise on his senior point guard, Sherron Collins: "He's the best guard in the country, at least in my opinion, and he does whatever it takes to give us the best chance to win most every night."

Kansas had to overcome a Baylor team that used their height and pterodactyl-esque wing spans to play zone the entire game and didn't seem to miss an open shot the entire first half. Meanwhile, KU's offense sputtered and, at times, seemed to consist of four guys standing around, waiting for Sherron Collins to do something.

Baylor shot 52.6% in the first half, usually with a Jayhawk so close they were wearing the same jersey. The Bears solid shooting included 5-of-8 from behind the three-point arc. KU tied the score, 30-30, on a Marcus Morris rebound and dunk as the horn sounded to end the period.

The Jayhawks have had problems against zone defenses in the past, but Self was pleased with how his team went about attacking Baylor's version that included a starting front court of 7', 6'10" and 6'10".

He said, "(We played) great. We got the ball to the high post. The first half, it's 30-30, and how many shots did our post guys miss right around the rim? So, we got the ball in tight. That's about the best we've attacked a zone this year."

Collins agreed and offered a session of Basketball 101 along the way.

"It wasn't a regular 2-3 zone. It was very high, they spread the wings out, so we had to attack the gaps. That's how you beat every zone: attack the gaps."
The second half looked like more of the Sherron Collins Show for the first seven minutes. With the game tied at 43, several Kansas Jayhawks contributed to a surge that culminated in a 60-50 lead with 7:09 left in the game. The Jayhawks and Bears traded scores, and Collins was supposed to have hit the dagger with a three following a missed Marcus Morris FT and an Aldrich rebound. The basket made it 65-66 with 6:01 remaining.

Unfortunately, Baylor didn't know the game was supposed to be over and went on a 10-0 run to tie the game, 65 all, at the 3:34 mark.

Brady Morningstar hit two free throws and Collins made a driving layup to stake KU to a four-point lead, 69-65. Baylor scored and made it a two-point game on their next possession, and Allen Field House exploded when Marcus Morris hit two charities on the next Jayhawk trip to put Kansas ahead, 71-67, with just 1:49 to play.

With the roof coming down around him, Dunn – this just in: he's really good at the game of basketball – made a floater from 10 feet with three Jayhawks hanging on him, swinging their arms and doing their best to send his shot to Lenexa. That made basket made it a two-point game again, 71-69.

KU then scored six straight on a three by Collins, a charity by said Collins and two free throws by Marcus Morris, staking Kansas to a 77-69 lead with 38.3 seconds left. Morris turned around and immediately and inexplicably fouled Tweety Carter, who made both of his free throws to keep hope alive, 77-71. Xavier Henry and Sherron Collins iced the game away by calmly knocking down two FTs each around a Carter three-ball at the other end.

Baylor was lead by Dunn with 27 points and nine rebounds. Carter had 17 and Quincy Acy and Ekpe Udoh each had 10. Acy also had nine boards.

"It was a good college basketball game. There's two good teams playing tonight," Self concluded.

Other notes:

  • KU's bench scored just four points, all by Markieff Morris, but Self said it didn't bother him in the least. "We played good. Sometimes guys don't score off the bench." Then, after a pause, he joked, "If we would've not started Sherron, we woulda had 29 points off the bench. Maybe that's what we should do."
  • Baylor left the floor during the pregame Kansas Basketball video, which Collins said the team took as "a sign of disrespect." Self said it was indeed noticed."That was highly unusual. Highly. We would never do that, but maybe that's their philosophy on how they handle things, I don't know." Baylor's Tweety Carter said, "It was loud in there. In a place like this, we just wanted to communicate better." Knowing the reputation that precedes Scott Drew, I call shenanigans.
  • Self was asked how Aldrich and Collins were doing following the passing of two relatives. Collins learned of the death of his great-grandfather just prior to the Texas Tech game last Saturday, and Aldrich's grandmother died late last Friday night. "I don't know if it affected Sherron as much. He's going to go to services tomorrow, but with Cole, I know that's been weighing on his brain a lot. I though they played real well."

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