Baylor hands reigning champ Kansas another loss

Jan 24, 2023

  • ESPN News Services

WACO, Texas — Langston Love came up huge for 17th-ranked Baylor after No. 9 Kansas took its only lead in a matchup of the past two national champions, as the Bears went on to win 75-69 on Monday night.

The reigning champion Jayhawks lost their third straight game, tying their longest skid since coach Bill Self took over in 2003-04. They also lost three in a row in February 2005, February 2013 and January 2021, but this is the first time Kansas has lost three straight to ranked teams since February 1989.

Meanwhile, Baylor’s victory gave the 2021 champion a Big 12-best five-game winning streak since its own three-game skid to open conference play.

“There is time to be reactive in a negative way if your team’s not doing well. This is not one of our times,” Self said. “We have gotten beat, and granted, we got beat [by] a team that was projected to win the league tonight, that’s really good. And they went through the same crap we’re going through right now.

“Our league is that good. It’s going to be a grind.”

Baylor is now 12-1 in its past 13 games against opponents ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll, tying the best 13-game span by any team in the AP poll era. The Bears are 25-8 against top-25 teams over the past four seasons, which is the nation’s best mark.

Love made an impressive go-ahead turnaround jumper while being fouled then made the free throw. The freshman guard, who missed all of last season after tearing an ACL in a preseason scrimmage, later capped the Bears’ key run with a 3-pointer.

Jalen Wilson swished a 3 from the left wing with 15:24 left to give the Jayhawks (16-4, 5-3 Big 12) their only lead at 46-45. Love then started a 12-3 spurt with the three-point play.

“He’s ready to step up whenever his name is called,” Bears senior Adam Flagler said of his fellow guard. “We weren’t surprised when he went out there and did what he did.”

Baylor junior guard LJ Cryer offered his take.

“That’s huge for us. It shows that when adversity hits, we’re able to fight through it,” Cryer said. “We’ve had games this season where adversity hits and we didn’t fight back.”

Cryer had 22 points for Baylor (15-5, 5-3), though 19 of his points and all five of his treys came before halftime. Flagler added 17 points, while Jalen Bridges and Love each had 11.

Freshman guard Gradey Dick had 24 points and Wilson 23 for the Jayhawks, who were coming off a 23-point home loss to TCU following a one-point overtime defeat at now fifth-ranked Kansas State. Kevin McCullar Jr. posted 14 points and 12 rebounds on Monday for his fifth double-double this season.

After an early layup by Wilson got Kansas within 11-7, Baylor had a 9-0 run that was punctuated by Josh Ojianwuna’s two-handed putback dunk. That was the last time in the first half that the Bears had consecutive scores, though Cryer did make three 3s in an 83-second span — the first two after 3s by Dick and Wilson, and the third following two free throws by Dick.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.