Kansas-Baylor Preview

BY foxsports • February 22, 2016

Kansas has won at least a share of 11 consecutive regular-season Big 12 championships, and its next game is the biggest of its final four on its way to No. 12.

The second-ranked Jayhawks carry a two-game lead in the loss column into Tuesday night's trip to Baylor, and if their first meeting with the 19th-ranked Bears is any indication, an eighth straight win should be on the way.

After heading to Waco, Kansas (23-4, 11-3) plays two of its last three at home with a stop at No. 25 Texas separating games against Texas Tech and No. 17 Iowa State.

The Jayhawks have won 40 straight at home, so defeating Baylor (20-7, 9-5) and maintaining a two-game lead over the rest of the league entering the final three would seem almost insurmountable.

"We are in decent position, but we are not satisfied with where we are at," guard Frank Mason III said. "We are not satisfied with the team we are right now. We still need to get better. There are still a lot of things we could do better, definitely can get better on the defensive end. We are looking forward to a good team on Tuesday with Baylor. We will go practice ... and then hopefully go over there and get the win."

That's modest considering the Jayhawks have quite simply been the best team in the conference lately. Saturday's 72-63 win at Kansas State was their seventh straight overall and sixth in a row in the league. The Big 12 streak has come with wins by an average of 14.5 points with Kansas shooting 51.0 percent.

Mason scored 16 points and has averaged 14.5 while shooting 50.0 percent in his last four after a three-game stretch in which the junior shot 25.9.

Perry Ellis managed 14 despite leaving the game twice. The team's top scorer missed a long stretch in the second half with a gouge behind his right ear that required 12 stitches. After returning, he was scratched in the eye by teammate Wayne Selden Jr., sending the forward to the bench again. The senior is expected to face Baylor, though Kansas didn't require much of his time in the last meeting.

That was a 102-74 home win Jan. 2 with Ellis scoring 17 points in 24 minutes, while Selden had 24. The guard has averaged 19.7 points on 61.3 percent shooting and 6 of 12 from 3-point range in his last three against the Bears and has been a part of each of the Jayhawks' six straight wins in the series.

Baylor needs to beat Kansas for any real shot at the title, and it enters with consecutive wins to build on. Saturday's 78-64 victory at then-No. 24 Texas followed last Tuesday's 100-91 home overtime win against then-No. 13 Iowa State.

"We're in that chance to win the Big 12," said coach Scott Drew, whose team closes against TCU, No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 14 West Virginia. "This is that grind time for everybody."

The Bears have shot 57.8 percent in the wins, and though they only attempted five 3-pointers against the Longhorns, they've hit 46.2 percent from long range in their last four.

The latest wins are particularly impressive considering Rico Gathers missed the Iowa State game with the flu and played 15 minutes against Texas. Big 12 Player of the Week Johnathan Motley has started the last two games and averaged 25.5 points on 73.3 percent shooting, making 12 of 13 against the Longhorns.

"The season's a long season and you have injuries and illnesses. It takes a team to win," Drew said. "To win in the Big 12, you have to have guys stepping up."

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