Saturday's Top 25: No. 17 KU ends No. 2 Baylor’s perfect start

Cliff Brunt
Associated Press
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Lawrence, Kan. — After its record streak in the Top 25 came to an end, Kansas spent the past the past three weeks quietly getting better, ripping off five consecutive wins before taking No. 14 Texas to overtime in a close loss on the road.

Baylor spent most of that same stretch mired in a COVID-19 shutdown.

So when No. 17 Kansas walked into Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, it had reason to be confident it could end the Bears’ perfect start. And by the time David McCormack finished pouring in 20 points, and Marcus Garrett added 14 on his senior night, the Jayhawks walked out with a 71-58 victory that left No. 1 Gonzaga as the nation’s only undefeated team.

Kansas guard Marcus Garrett, front right, avoids Baylor guard Davion Mitchell (45) in the second half.

“We had three weeks where they got worse and they had three weeks where they got better,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team led Kansas wire-to-wire in a 77-69 victory last month in Waco, Texas. “Even Superman has kryptonite and I guess COVID protocols are ours.”

Kansas (18-8, 12-6) had something to do with it, too.

The Jayhawks held the nation’s top 3-point shooting team to 6 of 26 from beyond the arc. They had a 48-28 advantage on the boards. They forced Baylor (18-1, 11-1) into early foul trouble and proceeded to go 18 of 26 from the foul line.

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

“There were a lot of naysayers saying whatever they would like,” said McCormack, who fouled out in the final minutes. “We had our ebbs and flows, but we’re continuing to rise, and we’re going to continue to rise into March.”

MaCio Teague scored 18 points and Davion Mitchell added 13 for the Bears, but leading scorer Jared Butler was 2 of 9 from the field and managed just five points while Garrett – one of the nation’s best defenders – hounded him all night.

The result was just the Bears’ 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 them positioned for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s a huge win for us. It’s not going to get you a ring on your finger or anything like that, but it’s a big win,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We could have easily won in Austin and really finished strong, but I’m really happy with the way we played.”

Baylor got off to a lousy start, just like it did in its return from its long COVID-19 pause, when it struggled to a comeback win over Iowa State. The Bears had nearly as many air balls (three) as points (four) over the first 6-plus minutes, and foul trouble sent Butler, Mark Vital and Matthew Mayer to the bench for long stretches.

Baylor eventually got on track, only for Kansas to close with seven straight points and lead 33-30 at the break.

The Jayhawks kept stretching their lead early in the second half. Ochai Agbaji finally knocked down a 3 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. Christian Braun drove the lane and drew fouls for the Jayhawks, then Vital began getting shots to go in the paint for the Bears.

Kansas was still clinging to a 57-52 lead with 5 minutes to go when Braun made a pair of free throws. That began a 10-2 run over the next 31/2 minutes, most of the offense coming at the foul line, effectively putting away the game.

“Our guys, we didn’t quit. We had chances,” Drew said. “It was down to five or seven, I thought we were right there. They drew a foul and I thought that was the turning point as far as our comeback.”

More Top 25

(At) Gonzaga 86, Loyola-Marymount 69: Corey Kispert made six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points, and Gonzaga remained the only unbeaten in the country.

The Bulldogs (24-0, 15-0 WCC) won their 51st straight home game to set a school record and finished off a perfect regular season. Gonzaga has won 28 straight games dating to last season and is the first team to finish the regular season unbeaten since Kentucky in 2014-15.

The Bulldogs are the only remaining unbeaten in Division I after No. 2 Baylor lost at Kansas earlier Saturday.

Drew Timme scored 16 points, Joel Ayayi 13, Jalen Suggs 12 and Anton Watson 11 for Gonzaga.

Eli Scott had 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead Loyola Marymount (12-8, 7-5), and Mattias Markusson added 19 points and 10 rebounds.

►No. 6 Alabama 64, (at) Mississippi 59: Jaden Shackleford scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half, and No. 6 Alabama beat Mississippi State to clinch its first Southeastern Conference regular-season championship since 2002.

The Crimson Tide (19-6, 14-2) led by double digits for much of the game before the Bulldogs (13-12, 7-9) closed to 56-53 on Iverson Molinar’s layup with 4:17 left. Mississippi State had a chance to draw even closer over the next three minutes, but Alabama came up with a couple big stops and James Rojas drained a 3 from the right corner to make it 59-53 with 43 seconds left.

Jahvon Quinerly had 19 points for Alabama, including 15 before halftime that helped the Tide snap out of a cold shooting start. Herbert Jones grabbed 14 rebounds as Alabama enjoyed a 45-40 rebounding advantage.

D.J. Stewart scored 15 points for the Bulldogs, who had won their past two games. Deivon Smith had 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Molinar scored 11 points.

Oklahoma State 94, (at) No. 7 Oklahoma 90, OT: Freshman Cade Cunningham scored 10 of his season-high 40 points in overtime, leading Oklahoma State to the victory.

Cunningham’s previous scoring high was 29 points. In his first Bedlam rivalry game, he made 12 of 21 field goals and 13 of 14 free throws. He also finished with 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

Oklahoma State (16-6, 9-6 Big 12) posted its fourth straight victory.

De’Vion Harmon matched a career high with 23 points for Oklahoma (15-7, 8-7).

The teams will meet again on Monday at Oklahoma State.

(At) No. 10 West Virginia 65, Kansas State 43: Sean McNeil scored 16 points and West Virginia used two big second-half runs to beat Kansas State.

Derek Culver added 11 points for West Virginia (17-6, 10-4 Big 12).

Davion Bradford scored 11 points for Kansas State (7-19, 3-14). The Wildcats were held to their second-lowest points total of the season.

West Virginia scored the first seven points of the second half. Jordan McCabe, who started the game in place of leading scorer Miles McBride, then scored all seven of his points during a 17-0 run that gave the Mountaineers their largest lead at 59-34 with 5:14 remaining.

►(At) North Carolina 78, No. 11 Florida State 70: Freshman Walker Kessler scored a season-high 20 points, and North Carolina boosted its NCAA Tournament chances while giving coach Roy Williams his 900th career victory.

The 7-foot-1 freshman had 14 of his points after halftime in a huge performance off the bench, providing a game-changing spark for a team that was down 16 with 21/2 minutes before halftime.

Kerwin Walton added 13 points for North Carolina (15-8, 9-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), which made all 10 of its free throws in the final 2:15 to stay in control.

RaiQuan Gray scored 17 points for the Seminoles (14-4, 10-3), who went from being in firm control to watching it slip away amid a mistake-filled second half.

►(At) Xavier 77, No. 13 Creighton 69: Paul Scruggs scored 23 points and Zach Freemantle added 17, helping Xavier bolster its NCAA Tournament hopes.

Freemantle also had 10 rebounds for Xavier (13-5, 6-5 Big East) for his fifth straight double-double. The Musketeers led by as many as 13 points and staved off a late comeback by Creighton.

Damien Jefferson led Creighton (17-6, 13-5) with 19 points, and Marcus Zegarowski had 15. The Bluejays had won four in a row.

►(At) No. 18 Texas Tech 68, No. 14 Texas 59: Mac McClung had 16 points to lead five Texas Tech players in double figures, and the Red Raiders snapped a three-game losing streak.

The game was tied at halftime, but Texas Tech (15-8, 7-7 Big 12) went ahead to stay when six different players scored in a 19-6 run to open the second half.

Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 11 points for the Red Raiders, and Marcus Santos-Silva had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Jericho Sims had 11 points for Texas (14-7, 8-6), which played the first of four consecutive road games to end the regular season.

►(At) No. 16 Virginia Tech 84, Wake Forest 46: Keve Aluma scored 23 points and Tyrece Radford had 15, leading Virginia Tech to the runaway victory.

Virginia Tech (15-5, 9-4) recorded its largest margin of victory for an Atlantic Coast Conference game. The previous record for the Hokies was a 94-65 win over Wake Forest in 2011.

Aluma hit 9 of 11 from the floor, including a career-high five 3-pointers. Nahiem Alleyne added three 3s and finished with 13 points.

Jonah Antonio led the Demon Deacons (6-13, 3-13) with 12 points. Wake Forest has lost five straight games.

(At) Utah 71, No. 19 Southern California 61: Alphonso Plummer scored 19 points, Timmy Allen added 15 points and eight assists, and Utah pulled away late in the second half.

Plummer made five 3-pointers to help the Utes (10-11, 7-10 Pac-12) beat a Top 25 opponent for the first time this season.

Drew Peterson scored 19 points for suddenly struggling USC (19-6, 13-5), which shot 37% from the field and lost for the third time in four games.

►(At) No. 20 Arkansas 83, LSU 75: Justin Smith had 19 points and 10 rebounds, helping Arkansas to its sixth straight win.

The Razorbacks (19-5, 11-4 Southeastern Conference) had four players score in double figures. Moses Moody had 18 points on 3-for-14 shooting, and reserve J.D. Notae also scored 18.

Arkansas grabbed control with a 16-2 run in the second half. Jalen Tate made two foul shots, Davonte Davis scored and Moody capped the surge with a layup, making it 72-55 with 7:04 left.

Cameron Thomas scored 25 points for LSU (14-8, 9-6). Trendon Watford had 16 points and seven rebounds.

(At) No. 21 Loyola Chicago 65, Southern Illinois 58, OT: Cameron Krutwig had 20 points and Loyola Chicago scored the last eight points in overtime.

The Ramblers (21-4, 16-2) closed the regular season by winning 14 of 15 games. They won the Missouri Valley Conference title outright after Bradley beat Drake about 45 minutes after the game ended. Loyola has won at least a share of the conference title in three of the last four years.

Lucas Williamson scored 13 points as the Ramblers extended their home winning streak to 22 games.

Lance Jones led Southern Illinois (11-13, 5-13) with 30 points on 11-for-17 shooting, including 5 for 8 from 3-point range.

►(At) No. 22 San Diego State 62, Boise State 58: Matt Mitchell hit two free throws with 3.3 seconds left and fellow senior Jordan Schakel made four free throws in the final 8.7 seconds, leading San Diego State to its 10th straight victory.

Schakel finished with 17 points, and Mitchell had eight points, eight rebounds and four steals.

Sweeping the two-game series against the Broncos means the Aztecs (19-4, 13-3 Mountain West) can repeat as regular-season conference champions if they win at UNLV on Wednesday night.

Devonaire Doutrive and Marcus Shaver Jr. each scored 13 points for Boise State (18-6, 14-5). Mladen Armus had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

►(At) Auburn 77, No. 25 Tennessee 72: Allen Flanigan scored a season-high 23 points and had seven rebounds, leading Auburn to the victory.

The Tigers (12-13, 6-10 Southeastern Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak while playing without freshman point guard Sharife Cooper, out for the second straight game with a left ankle injury.

Keon Johnson scored 23 points for the Volunteers (16-7, 9-7). Jared Springer had 20.

Devan Cambridge matched his season high with 15 points for the Tigers.

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