Being super freshmen and all, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins get a lot of attention every time Kansas play. However, there’s much more to this team than those two players, as Naadir Tharpe has shown time and time again, most recently in the impressive 69-52 win over Baylor.
It is the Jayhawks’ second win this season over the Bears, this time coming in Waco in a game many expected to be a lot tougher. Baylor are now 2-7 in the Big 12, a season that is going very differently from their and many others’ expectations when it came to their chances of providing a fight for the Big 12 title and their chances in the NCAA tournament.
It was Naadir Tharpe who took center stage for Kansas, scoring 22 points. Wiggins, often a barometer for how good Kansas are going to be, especially in big games, had a rough shooting game with 4-of-13, scoring 14 points. Embiid was limited to only 5 points. Wiggins actually scored his first points just before the half time horn went off, hitting a half court shot at the buzzer. That gave Kansas an 8 point lead going into the locker room, and took a lot of air out of Baylor going into the second half.
Well, we ran that play for him at the end of the first half to get him going. It was big. It gave a great momentum push going into halftime. It’s great that he knocked it down. It got him going.
This win was important for Kansas especially after picking up their first loss in conference play this season when visiting Texas. It was a bad game for Sharpe and pretty much for everyone else in Austin, struggling with the size Texas threw at them, something very few teams can match up with Kansas in.
Kansas played some excellent defense on a very poor Baylor team, limiting them to only 29.1% from the field, as not a single player for the Bears shot better than 50%. Kansas won the rebounding battle 45-31 and hit 60% of their 3-point shots.
We just came out there without energy. I felt like even though Texas played that tremendous game out there, we kind of beat ourselves. We didn’t come out with any kind of energy, we had nothing. After they made a play, we had nothing coming back. So we knew coming into today in Waco, we had to come out with some fire right away. And that’s what we did.
Brady Heslip had a disappointing performance for Baylor, scoring 12 points early on to give Baylor a 22-21 lead, but was held scoreless in the final 26:34 of the game, finishing with only 4-of-14 from the field, not scoring a single 2-point field goal.
There might be optimism for Baylor about the second round of games in the conference, but they have to play in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas State along the way, while home games against Oklahoma State and Iowa State won’t be easy as well.
We were just playing him behind his numbers. We were running behind him. We just knew that he got a lot of good looks off in the first half, and we couldn’t let that happen again.