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Is Baylor’s defense a concern?


Mike Miller

What Kansas did to Baylor last night was impressive and noteworthy.

Jeff Goodman praised the fact that the Jayhawks are back. Rightfully so. This is a team that everyone wrote off back in December when they lost to Davidson in Kansas City, which is about as close as you can get to being a home game without being a home game. An 18 point beat down of previously undefeated and No. 3 Baylor will make a lot of people forget about the struggles you’ve had.

Seth Davis focused on Tyshawn Taylor, the enigmatic and inconsistent Kansas point guard that can be positively electrifying when he’s right. The past two games, he’s been right, finishing with a career-high 28 points in both games. But he’s also committed nine turnovers in that span, which makes one wonder whether he’s truly turned over a new leaf on his turnover problems.

Everything that those two gentlemen wrote from Phog Allen on Monday night was correct.

But they failed to mention an even more important point: Baylor’s defense was positively dreadful.

Baylor gave up 92 points on the night, 53 of which came in the second half. They allowed Kansas to shoot 57.4% from the field and 6-11 from three. They gave up a season high 1.296 PPP, a worrisome number for a team that is 16th in the country, giving up 0.89 PPP (adjusted, according to Kenpom). Baylor’s previous season high was 1.125 PPP, which they gave up to West Virginia. For everything that Thomas Robinson and Taylor were able to do on Monday night, that right there is the story line.

The Bears couldn’t stop a team that is a two-man show. They couldn’t do it in their zone and they couldn’t do it when they switched to a man-to-man.

Robinson absolutely abused a vaunted Baylor interior attack. He finished with 27 points on 11-18 shooting while adding 14 boards and hitting five of his six free throws. Only a single one of those rebounds came on the offensive end, which would be noteworthy if it wasn’t for the fact that Jeff Withey, the Jayhawk’s seven foot center, grabbed nine of them himself.

This isn’t the first time that a big man has gone off on the Bears, either. Kevin Jones of West Virginia had 28 points and 17 boards in an overtime loss back in December. Brandon Davies, Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo of BYU combined for 50 points and 27 boards (15 offensive) in BYU’s loss at the end of November.

And Taylor?

He got wherever he wanted to whenever he wanted last night. There was one possession in particular that I remember from the second half -- when the game was still in doubt -- where Travis Releford drove baseline and found Taylor all alone in the opposite corner. Taylor had a wide-open three, but after waiting literally three seconds for a a defender to get to him, he took two dribbles completely uncontested before taking a three-foot runner in the lane without a defender stepping up.

Baylor’s defense was plain awful last night. The question now is whether or not that was a fluke, a result of running into the mack truck that was Kansas last night, or if this is a trend that we are going to have to be concerned about.