Kansas State (13-1) vs Baylor (10-4)
|Center||0||Flo Thamba||Sr||6'10"||250||Kinshasa, D.R. Congo|
|Forward||11||Jalen Bridges||Jr||6'7"||225||Fairmont, WV||West Virginia|
|Guard / Wing||1||Keyonte George||Fr||6'4"||185||Lewisville, TX|
|Guard||4||LJ Cryer||Jr||6'1"||190||Katy, TX|
|Guard||10||Adam Flagler||Sr||6'3"||185||Duluth, GA|
|Center||15||Josh Ojianwuna||Fr||6'10"||230||Asaba, Nigeria|
|Wing||13||Langston Love||Fr||6'5"||210||Universal City, TX|
|Forward||33||Caleb Lohner||Jr||6'8"||235||Flower Mound, TX||BYU|
|Guard||3||Dale Bonner||Sr||6'2"||170||Shaker Heights, OH||Fairmont State|
Baylor on Offense
This is going to be like playing basketball against a reflection. Baylor’s offense is reeeal similar to Kansas State’s. Everything is based on dribble drives. They’ll find the matchup they like, drive it with one of their guards, and look for layups, dump off dunks, and 3 point kick outs. Look for them to circle their guards out from the low post to the wings on most half court possessions. They’re not strictly a straight line drive team. They like to drive across the lane from the wings, sometimes in side pick and roll and sometimes on straight dribble drives. That’s not something teams see much, and it tends to open up weak side shooters and weak side dives to the basket.
According to Kenpom the Bears have the 18th most efficient offense in the nation. Their 36% average from 3 is good for 79th and their 55% average from 2 is good for 32nd nationally. Their 54.6 effective field goal percentage comes in at 30th. Their adjusted tempo of 69 is 107th (mid-tempo) and their average possession length of 16.5 is 71st. They run when the opportunity presents its self, but will settle things down in the half court and work for the looks they want.
The majority of their scoring comes from their three starting guards. Freshman Keyonte George leads the team in scoring, at 16.4, followed closely by Adam Flagler at 16.2 and LJ Cryer at 14.7. All three are capable scorers and they share the load. One guard drives, and if that doesn’t result in something they like, they cycle it back out, and let the next guard take a crack at the defense.
They’re a slightly above average 3 point shooting team at 36%, but Adam Flagler is one of the best shooters in the nation. He’s hit 38 of his 79 attempts (48%) and won’t hesitate to pull from any spot on the floor. He also has one of the best assist rates in the nation, at 32.7%. When he’s cooking, Baylor is tough to beat.
LJ Cryer has been a bit boom or bust this season. He boomed against UCLA, going off for 28 points on 10-18 shooting, including 4-8 from deep. He missed two games, including a loss to Iowa State at the end of December, and didn’t have his shot dialed in Baylor’s home loss to TCU 3 days ago, going for 13 points on 3-9 shooting, and only hitting 1-5 from 3. He’s too good not to shake out of his December funk (played 3 games, only his double digits in 1) but let’s hope he waits another game.
Last but not least is Keyonte George, the 5* freshman has adjusted well to the college game. Baylor uses him on 30% of their possessions (highest on the team, 34th in the nation) and he takes 31.6% of their shots (highest on the team, 38th in the nation). He’s a volume shooter from deep. He’s “only” hitting 35% from 3 but he’s hoisted up 108 attempts, almost 30 more than Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer. To put that in perspective, Kansas State’s most prolific 3 point shooter is Markquis Nowell, he’s attempted 78 3’s. Don’t think George is strictly a 3 point shooter though. He won’t hesitate to drive the ball and leads his team in fouls drawn and free throws attempted. If you close hard on him, he’ll pump fake you and leave you in the dust.
This isn’t a vintage Baylor defense. In terms of efficiency, it’s solidly above average at 95.8 (63rd in the nation) but it was elite in ‘22 (13th), ‘21 (22nd), and ‘20 (4th). Teams are shooting 34% from 3 (194th) and 48.5 from 2 (136). The one bright spot is their 23% turnover percentage. They put pressure on the ball in their half court man defense and deploy an array of man and zone presses after they score. Still, their 11.6% steal percentage is down from last season (12.7), ‘21 (12.8), and ‘20 (12.1). Their defense is good, but it’s not the God level defense they’ve used to smother teams recently.
In their recent home loss to TCU, they gave up 88 points, including a 33 spot by Horned Frog star Mike Miles Jr. In their previous game, they gave up 77 to Iowa State, and Gabe Kalscheur went of for 23 on 5-9 shooting from 3. As a team, Iowa State shot 43.5% (10-23) from 3. You would think hitting 3’s is the key to knocking off the Bears, but TCU only managed to hit 3, and still put up 88 because guards Miles. Jr and Damion Baugh made it to the line a combined 19 times.
Kansas State’s dribble drive offense will pose a problem for Baylor. Strangely enough, they haven’t done well when teams spread them out and give them a taste of their own medicine with driving guards. All their losses involve a guard going off for 20+, and either shooting a bunch of free throws, or hitting a bunch of 3’s. The Wildcats can do both, and I’m not sure they have an answer for Markquis or Keyontae off the dribble.
X-Factor - Rebounding
Baylor is a weird team. Their 37% offensive rebounding percentage is 8th in the nation. Their 29.5% defensive rebounding percentage is good for 206th in the nation. Post reserve Caleb Lohner comes and gives them 17 minutes of rebounding, and Jalen Bridges likes to come in from the wing and pull down boards when he doesn’t get checked out.
Kansas State’s 33% offensive rebounding percentage is good for 61st nationally, and their 28.5% defensive rebounding percentage is 173rd. If the Wildcats can secure their defensive boards, it will go a long way in pulling the upset in Waco. That means the guards must check out their guys and not get caught watching when a shot goes up and the post players can’t over help and leave open weak side rebounding opportunities for Bridges, Lohner and Thamba.
Baylor - 77
Kansas St - 72
Confidence - 65%
Baylor - 75
Kanas State - 84
I’ve got the Wildcats in an upset. Baylor is on a two game losing streak,