Home » Kansas basketball coach Bill Self addresses challenge of Baylor’s star freshmen, more

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self addresses challenge of Baylor’s star freshmen, more

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LAWRENCE — Kansas basketball’s next Big 12 Conference test is set for 5 p.m. Saturday at home against Baylor.

Here are five things to think about before the No. 4 Jayhawks (18-5, 6-4 in Big 12) face off against the No. 13 Bears (17-5, 6-3 in Big 12):

Here’s what’s standing out to Kansas about Baylor

Baylor’s potential to be have a prolific scoring offense isn’t lost on Kansas coach Bill Self, nor is the Bears’ ability to hit 3s. As a team, Baylor enters the contest shooting 40.3% from behind the arc this season. Jayhawks graduate senior forward Parker Braun mentioned a need Thursday to make defending the 3-point an emphasis, and Self added later they’ll have to figure out how to handle that while not allowing Baylor’s bigs to expose Kansas’ defense inside.

Baylor’s freshmen will challenge Kansas

There’s talent on Baylor’s roster who aren’t in the midst of their first season at the college level. Senior guard RayJ Dennis, senior forward Jalen Bridges and redshirt sophomore guard Langston Love are three of them. But the challenge freshman guard Ja’Kobe Walter and freshman center Yves Missi present was on Self’s mind Thursday.

The two freshmen have been regular starters for the Bears this season. Walter is the team’s leading scorer. Missi is the team’s leading rebounder.

“They’re both pros,” Self said. “So, one of them’s a lottery pick and the other one is projected, I think, to go in the top 20. So — and when I say lottery pick, I’m not talking about top 14 I’m talking about top five or six.”

Bill Self anticipates a similar atmosphere to this past Saturday

Kansas’ game Saturday against Baylor will prove to be a different matchup than this past Saturday’s home game against now-No. 5 Houston, which Self and company won. While both are home games for the Jayhawks, as Self mentioned it is two different teams with two different styles — necessitating two different game plans. But despite the differences, Self anticipates the game bringing another high-octane atmosphere to Allen Fieldhouse.

Bill Self expresses confidence in Hunter Dickinson’s 3-point shooting

Kansas senior center Hunter Dickinson is shooting 35.4% from behind the arc this season, but recently has struggled to hit those shots. While he’s 17-for-48 from behind the arc so far this season, in Big 12 play alone he’s 4-for-23 (17.4%) on 3s. Self, though, issued his support for Dickinson’s decisions to take 3s, noted Dickinson has been making good decisions and that the Jayhawks need Dickinson to be someone who stretches defenses in that fashion.

While Kansas will face another quick turnaround, its focus is on Baylor

Once again this season, after Kansas plays a game Saturday it will play a game the following Monday — a road game at No. 23 Texas Tech. It’s not something that leaves a lot of time for the Jayhawks to prepare for their next matchup. But while that might leave one to think the team will use the week of preparation to, in part, look ahead to the following game, Braun assured that is not the case.

“We’re all Baylor right now,” Braun said. “That’s what’s next, and in the position we’re in we’ve got to take it one game at a time. So, we’re all Baylor right now and we’re just going to try to get one at a time and Baylor’s on our minds right now.”

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Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. He is the National Sports Media Association’s sportswriter of the year for the state of Kansas for 2022. Contact him at jmguskey@gannett.com or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.