No. 7 Kansas packs road woes for Waco weekend
Kansas never opened with three straight true road defeats in any of Bill Self's previous 15 seasons as coach.
As the seventh-ranked Jayhawks look to prevent that from happening Saturday at Waco, Texas, they will also try to avoid dropping back-to-back games to Baylor for the first time in program history.
The only two losses Kansas (13-2, 2-1 Big 12) has suffered this season came in true road contests. First, 80-76 at then-No. 18 Arizona State last month while ranked No. 1 and last weekend, 77-60, against an Iowa State squad that found its way into the Top 25 this week.
Though the Jayhawks managed to bounce back from the latter with a 77-68 home win over 25th-ranked TCU on Wednesday, their focus quickly shifts back to the road where they have not dropped their first three road games since the early 1980s.
Self, meanwhile, believes success Saturday will depend on how well his team shoots the basketball, especially from 3-point range. The Jayhawks went 13 of 48 (27.1 percent) from beyond the arc in their two road games to date, and are shooting 26.1 percent from distance in the last five overall contests.
"I know we have it in us, but we need to shoot it better than we have," Self said.
Kansas went 6 of 31 from beyond the arc in last season's 80-64 loss at Baylor on Feb. 10. That defeat snapped the Jayhawks' 11-game winning streak over the Bears, who are 5-30 all-time in this series.
Baylor (9-5, 1-1 Big 12) is 7-2 at home this season with both defeats coming in unexpected fashion to Texas Southern and to Stephen F. Austin. However, the Bears are coming off a 73-70 win over 20th-ranked Iowa State earlier this week.
"In the Big 12, it doesn't matter what you did in the last game, you've got to be ready for the game that you have (next)," Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
"You've got to win your home games in the Big 12."
The Bears also must try to contain Kansas star Dedric Lawson, who recorded a season-high 31 points and pulled down 14 rebounds versus TCU. Lawson totaled 34 points in the previous three games.
Kansas also received a boost off the bench from freshman guard Ochai Agbaji, who had seven points, four rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes in his college debut Wednesday after Self opted to pull his redshirt. With big man Udoka Azubuike done for the season because of a wrist injury, the Jayhawks needed a little more depth and Agbaji was called into action.
"It's not easy to come into the Big 12 and play your first game," Lawson said of Agbaji, who may again be asked to deliver quality minutes this weekend. "He was comfortable, he wasn't rushing, he was knocking down shots and he was making game-winning plays. You have to tip your hat to a guy like that. ... I'm glad he's here."
Drew, meanwhile, should be happy to have guard Makai Mason on his side. The graduate transfer from Yale is averaging 15.1 points and scored 25 while going 4 of 9 from beyond the arc against Iowa State.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 10, 2019