Baylor is very good at basketball. Kansas State is not. We knew that going into Saturday’s game at Manhattan, yet it was still a little jarring to see the difference on the court.
For anyone hoping No. 2 Baylor might look a little rusty after not practicing the last two weeks or so, the first three minutes provided a glimmer of hope. Then the Bears woke up and their offense dominated until halftime and cruised afterwards to hand K-State a 100-69 loss, ending a three-game Big 12 win streak.
Thanks to two DaJuan Gordon steals and a Mike McGuirl defensive rebound, Kansas State had a chance to take the lead three minutes into the game. Instead, McGuirl badly missed an open three, then MaCio Teague converted a four-point play on the next posession and things went downhill very quickly.
A 10-0 run ignited the offense as the Bears rarely missed, and when they did, it didn’t matter because Baylor grabbed the rebound. Meanwhile, K-State committed 12 turnovers and never made consecutive baskets without Baylor breaking up the run, so even shooting a very respectable 48% from the field wasn’t enough to avoid falling behind 56-27 at half.
In the second half, they kept playing basketball and the Cats even put together an 11-2 spurt at one point, which was cool. However, it only cut the lead down to 68-44, and Baylor would reach 89 points on a Davion Mitchell three with 6:33 remaining.
Teague scored 23, Mitchell scored 20 and Jared Butler scored 14 with 13 assists to lead the Bears, as the three guards did more or less whatever they wanted to offensively. Mark Vital scored 7 points but it was sophomore Jonathan Tchamwa Tcatchi off the bench who did the most damage inside, scoring 13 points on 6 of 10 shooting, including a couple posted dunks on the end of alley-oops over helpless K-State defenders.
Antonio Gordon found his stroke to score a team-high 23 points on perfect 9-for-9 shooting from the field, one of which was a 3-pointer. Selton Miguel scored 14 points but also turned the ball over 4 times. Kansas State got outrebounded 41-25, giving up 16 offensive rebounds while grabbing only 13 defensive boards.
Three in the key
- It’s clear Kansas State’s defense still has a long, long way to go. Baylor was shooting lights-out from 3 early, which is tough for anyone to stop, but the more concerning part of the first half was when the Bears started to attack inside and briefly turned the game into a dunkfest. Through the first 15 minutes or so Baylor was shooting 75% from the field and had grabbed something stupid like 9 of 11 rebounds on the offensive end. That can’t happen.
- Mike McGuirl’s carelessness was a problem. The senior point guard committed three turnovers in the first five minutes, the time when Kansas State most needed him to be smart and perhaps even provide an offensive spark. He’s always going to be a streak shooter so the 2-of-7 from the field (0-3 from 3) isn’t as concerning as the fact that he rarely created much of anything for the offense. On the plus side, Mike did grab 6 rebounds, tying Antonio Gordon for a team-high.
- Maybe we should have expected this after last game’s miraculous 26-of-29 performance, but K-State’s free throw shooting was once again terrible. The Cats hit only 7-of-15 from the stripe, with everyone who shot one missing at least once. Even DaJuan Gordon missed one of his two attempts, although he gets a pass after shooting 11-for-11 last game. Although you could make a case for the Drake game, Kansas State hasn’t really lost a game because of free throw shooting yet (after all, it’s tough to do that when every loss is by 10 points or more) but it’s coming if the season percentage remains well south of 70%.
Next up: Kansas State desperately needs to regain some confidence and pick up a couple of wins in a pair of easy nonconference games to close out December, starting with Jacksonville on Monday. The Dolphins are 6-3 but they have no wins of note and lost at Georgia by 33.