LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Baylor had spent more than five decades trying to win at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Bears had blown big leads and been blown out. They took in championship teams riding high and limped away feeling low. Their sense of confidence and optimism always was replaced by more disappointment and heartache.
All those years of angst made Saturday feel so much sweeter.
With dominant guard play from Jared Butler and MaCio Teague, a suffocating performance by the Big 12’s best defense and plenty of answers whenever Kansas tried to make a second-half run, the fourth-ranked Bears thumped the No. 3 Jayhawks 67-55 for their first win in 18 tries on the hallowed hardwood of the Phog.
“This year, you know, we came in with the expectation to win, the expectation to do great things,” said Butler, who finished with 22 points. “And it shows when you expect to win versus just trying to survive.”
Teague added 16 points and Freddie Gillespie had 13 points for the Bears (13-1, 3-0 Big 12), who snapped a whole slew of ignominious streaks with their victory in Lawrence. They beat a top-five team on the road for the first time in 22 attempts, won their fifth straight against a ranked team for the first time in school history and, perhaps most importantly, they beat Kansas (12-3, 2-1) in their personal house of horrors for the first time after playing their first game in the building in 1966.
The loss also ended the Jayhawks’ 28-game home winning streak, the third-longest in the nation.
“I knew at some point Baylor was going to win up here and I was just hoping I would be a part of it,” Bears coach Scott Drew said. “Really pleased it was with this group because they’ve worked extremely hard.”
Isaiah Moss scored 15 points and Marcus Garrett had 11 for the Jayhawks, who lost leading scorer Devon Dotson to a hip pointer for a long stretch midway through the game, preventing them from finding any offensive rhythm.
Kansas was 4 of 15 beyond the arc and committed 14 turnovers that Baylor turned into 21 points.
When asked whether he thought his team knew of all the history wrapped up in a single loss, Kansas coach Bill Self replied: “I’m not going to make a big deal out of it like that.”
“I think when you say it like that — I may be wrong — it’s almost like saying the players here don’t care as much as the players in the past because we got our (butts) handed to us today,” Self continued. “This is sports. If they’re on and you’re not, they’re going to beat you.”
The two Big 12 heavyweights spent the first 10 minutes of the game sizing each other up, and the Jayhawks opened a brief 20-15 lead before the Bears — and Butler and Teague in particular — finally asserted control.
Teague began a 22-4 run to close the first half by beating the shot clock with a 3-pointer. He turned the same trick a few minutes later, right after Butler knocked down a 3 and added a jumper of his own. The quick flurry forced Self to call the first of two fruitless timeouts in the closing minutes of the first half.
The second timeout came as the Bears were hitting seven straight field goals to take a 37-24 lead into the break.
“That,” Self acknowledged, “made the climb a lot harder.”
Making matters worse for Kansas? Dotson hurt his hip with about 50 seconds left in the half. He played on and began the second half, but he grabbed his side again 30 seconds in and immediately returned to the locker room.
The Jayhawks still made a run without the Big 12’s top scorer.
Holding the Bears to a pair of field goals over the first 10 minutes of the second half, Kansas slowly managed to trim its deficit. Udoka Azubuike’s alley-oop dunk got the Jayhawks within 41-36, and Ochai Agbaji’s acrobatic layup a few minutes later provided an answer to yet another 3-pointer from Teague.
But the Jayhawks also misfired on plenty of opportunities to get closer. Garrett committed his fourth turnover with a chance to make it a one-possession game, Moss air-balled a 3-pointer and the Bears collapsed on easy looks in the paint.
That’s when Butler and Teague refused to let another Baylor lead dissipate in the Phog.
The sophomore guard and his junior running mate, who together had carried the Bears to 11 straight wins, began to score at will on the offensive end. They attacked the basket against the Jayhawks’ vaunted big men, dropped a series of open 3s to silence another sellout crowd, and seemingly willed the rest of Drew’s team to the finish line.
Even when Dotson returned to the game, the Jayhawks never hit their stride. The Bears answered every bucket by Azubuike with one of their own, and they kept harassing Garrett into mistakes on offense and silly fouls on defense.
The Bears’ lead eventually swelled to 60-44, and all they had to do was nurse it to a monumental win.
“When you’ve been in the Big 12 long enough, every game, you can’t get too high or to low. They’re all worth the same,” Drew said. “At the same time I know to our fans, it means a great deal. Any time you beat a top team in the country it’s a great win, let alone a conference team. Being able to do something we haven’t done up here, I’m happy it’s this group.”
Baylor had been 0-3 in matchups in which both teams were ranked in the top five, with two of those losses coming to the Jayhawks — add that to the streaks that were broken Saturday. The Bears were efficient on offense, going 8 of 19 from beyond the arc, and they committed just five turnovers in a peerless offensive performance.
Kansas failed to get Azubuike and fellow big men David McCormack and Silvio de Sousa involved in the game, often throwing the ball away while trying to dump it down low. The result was a stunning 28-26 deficit on points in the paint, something few teams will be able to accomplish against the Jayhawks this season.
Baylor returns home to face Iowa State on Wednesday night.
Kansas begins a two-game road swing Tuesday night at Oklahoma.
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