Getting to know: Baylor basketball
No. 7 Kansas will look to put its recent road woes to bed this weekend.
KU’s two losses this season have come in its only two true road contests, suffering defeats against Arizona State and Iowa State. The Jayhawks (13-2, 2-1 Big 12) will take on Baylor in Waco on Saturday.
Last time out, Kansas took down TCU with a 76-68 win. Baylor (9-5, 1-1 Big 12) is also coming off a win after defeating Iowa State by a 73-70 margin. According to KenPom.com, the Bears are ranked No. 53 in college basketball. The Jayhawks are listed at No. 10, which is their lowest ranking of the season.
Tipoff is slated for 3 p.m. Saturday.
Series history: Saturday is the 36th all-time meeting between Baylor and Kansas. KU is 30-5 against Baylor.
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BREAKING DOWN BAYLOR
No. 10 — G Makai Mason | 6-1, 185, sr.
Mason is making the most of his lone year with the Bears.
As the first graduate transfer in program history, Mason is leading the team in scoring with an average of 15.1 points per contest. Earlier this week, Mason poured in 25 points to get Baylor past Iowa State. Mason knocked down four triples, which marked the most he has hit in a game this season.
Mason, who transferred from Yale, has only failed to score double figures once this season. His career high remains 31 points, which he actually did at Yale during a game against Baylor.
No. 25 — F Tristan Clark | 6-9, 240, so.
Clark is one of three Baylor players to average double digits in scoring, as he’s recording a clip of 14.6 points per outing.
In his sophomore season, Clark leads the nation with a 73.7 field goal percentage, averaging 2.1 missed field goals per game. He has scored in double-figures in 11 of 14 games this season after doing so in 10 of 33 games last year.
Clark has also started in all 14 games this season and has recorded multiple blocks in 11 of 14 games, including three games with at least five blocks.
No. 03 — G King McClure | 6-3, 215, sr.
McClure is third on the team in scoring with an average of 10.2 points per game.
Last time out, McClure was held to just six points on 2-of-7 shooting, and he’s failed to hit double figures in each of his previous six games. As a senior, McClure has scored 20+ points in three games this season after doing so once in 100 games over first three seasons at Baylor.
Prior to the start of the year, McClure switched his jersey number from No. 22 to No. 3 to honor teammate Jake Lindsey, who will miss 2018-19 season.
No. 11 — F Mark Vital | 6-5, 230, r-so
Vital is one of three players to start in all 14 games this season for Baylor. He’s started in 31 of the last 33 games dating back to last year.
As of late, Vital has found a knack for getting in passing lanes and could thrive against a KU team that recently committed 24 turnovers at Iowa State. Vital has recorded 11 steals over his last five games after posting seven steals in first nine games this season.
ONE THING BAYLOR DOES WELL
The Big 12 is a defensive league this year, and even the teams at the bottom of the conference are no different. The Bears are boasting the 33rd-best defensive efficiency in the country, per KenPom. They have also recorded a block rate of 16.9 percent, which is ranked sixth in the nation.
ONE AREA BAYLOR STRUGGLES
Another similar theme in the Big 12 is that teams are struggling to shoot well from deep. Baylor is even worse than most, posting a 29.2 percentage from long range. According to KenPom, that mark ranks 327th in all of college basketball.
MEET THE COACH
The Bears are coached by Scott Drew, who is 305-200 in his 16th season at Baylor and 325-211 in his 17th season overall. Baylor is 7-2 at the Ferrell Center this season and has won its last three games on its home court.
Kansas is a 3.5-point favorite on the road against Baylor. I expect the Jayhawks to get their first win and by enough points to cover in the end of a defensive battle.
My prediction: Kansas 71, Baylor 65