college basketball

No. 17 Kansas Ends No. 2 Baylor's Perfect Start With 71-58 Win

No. 17 Kansas ends No. 2 Baylor's perfect start with 71-58 win -->
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Kansas finally put a blemish on second-ranked Baylor's perfect season.

David McCormack bruised his way to 20 points, Marcus Garrett added 14 on his senior night, and the No. 17 Jayhawks beat the Bears 71-58 on Saturday to leave top-ranked Gonzaga as the nation's only unbeaten team.

They also made the sure Baylor would need to wait at least a few more days to clinch its first conference title since 1950.

Kansas (18-8, 12-6) improved to 17-5 against top-10 teams in Allen Fieldhouse under coach Bill Self, whose team also avoided getting swept in a home-and-home series by a team for just the third time in 127 opportunities since his arrival.

Baylor (18-1, 11-1) led wire-to-wire when the teams met last month in Waco, Texas.

MaCio Teague scored 18 points and Davion Mitchell added 13 for the Bears, who struggled with foul trouble while getting dominated 48-28 on the boards. The nation's leading 3-point shooting team also was 6 of 26 from beyond the arc.

The result was just the second loss in 12 games against ranked opponents over the past two years, and an end to the best start in school history -- though one that still has Baylor positioned for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

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The Bears were playing for the second time since a long COVID-19 pause and, just like in their comeback win over Iowa State, got off to a lousy start. They had nearly as many air balls (three) as points (four) in the first 6-plus minutes, and foul trouble sent Jared Butler, Mark Vital and Matthew Mayer to the bench for long stretches.

Baylor eventually got on track, but Kansas closed with seven straight points to lead 33-30 at the break.

The Jayhawks, who had won five of their last six with an overtime loss at No. 14 Texas, kept stretching their lead early in the second half. Ochai Agbaji finally knocked down a 3-pointer after missing his first six tries, and McCormack followed Garrett's miss with an easy put-back to make it 41-33 at the under-16 timeout.

Thus began a back-and-forth tussle between what has become the two premier programs in the Big 12.

Seldom-used guard Dajuan Harris scored five straight points for Kansas. Teague answered with back-to-back 3-pointers for Baylor, getting fouled on the second one and turning it into a four-point play.

Kansas was still clinging to a 57-52 lead with 5 minutes to go when Christian Braun made a pair of free throws. That began a 10-2 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes, most of the offense coming at the foul line, effectively putting away the game.

Garrett was the only player honored on senior night, which proceeded despite the late addition of UTEP to the schedule Thursday night. Fellow seniors Mitch Lightfoot and Chris Teahan plan to use COVID-19 rules to return next season.

Baylor committed just three turnovers the entire game. But the Bears had seven shots blocked, went just 6 of 16 from the free-throw line and led for less than 5 minutes the entire game.

Kansas is starting to hit his stride -- Self said as much following the game, when he addressed the roughly 2,000 fans allowed in the Phog due to COVID-19 restrictions. That momentum is a big reason why the Jayhawks added an extra game against UTEP this week, preventing them from a long layoff before the Big 12 Tournament.

Baylor visits No. 10 West Virginia on Tuesday night. Kansas plays the Miners in its final regular-season game.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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