Baylor put a historic winning streak on the line in late February against Kansas last season and saw it crumble against their chief Big 12 nemesis. Fast forward a season and the No. 2 Bears are experiencing deja vu after their undefeated run came to an end Saturday night in a 71-58 loss to the No. 17 Jayhawks at Phog Allen Fieldhouse that leaves Gonzaga as college basketball’s last undefeated team.
The Bears (18-1, 10-1 Big 12) got off to slow starts in both halves and never recovered in the second half against a Kansas team that dominated the boards and the paint. Jayhawks center David McCormack played a massive role in that equation, scoring 20 points in a redemptive effort following a poor outing in the first meeting won by Baylor last month.
Kansas (18-8, 12-6 Big 12) has now won six of its last seven games with only a nonconference game against UTEP on Thursday left on its schedule before postseason play begins. The Jayhawks entered the night as a projected No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm, and that won’t change immediately. But the victory is a feather in the cap for a program that endured some struggles this season.
The Bears will remain a projected No. 1 seed but will slip to the No. 3 overall spot with Michigan taking over the No. 2 overall spot in Palm’s projected bracket. The Wolverines improved to 18-1 overall and 13-1 in the Big Ten with a win over Indiana on Saturday as they have have won five straight since returning from a 23-day break between games earlier this month.
Baylor still appears to be searching for its rhythm after returning from a 21-day break with a narrow victory over a bad Iowa State team on Tuesday. The Bears’ struggles in that game turned out to be an accurate forecast of the issues they faced Saturday. Just like last season, when Baylor carried a 23-game winning streak into it second game with Kansas, the Jayhawks avoided a sweep and spoiled Baylor’s stretch of dominance.