Jan 11, 2020 11:43 PM

🏀No. 4 Baylor tops No. 3 KU 67-55 for first win in the Phog

Posted Jan 11, 2020 11:43 PM

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Baylor had spent more than five decades trying to win at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Bears had blown big leads and been blown out. They took in championship teams riding high and limped away feeling low. Their sense of confidence and optimism always was replaced by more disappointment and heartache.

All those years of angst made Saturday feel so much sweeter.

With dominant guard play from Jared Butler and MaCio Teague, a suffocating performance by the Big 12′s best defense and plenty of answers whenever Kansas tried to make a second-half run, the fourth-ranked Bears thumped the No. 3 Jayhawks 67-55 for their first win in 18 tries on the hallowed hardwood of the Phog.

“This year, you know, we came in with the expectation to win, the expectation to do great things,” said Butler, who finished with 22 points. “And it shows when you expect to win versus just trying to survive.”

Teague added 16 points and Freddie Gillespie had 13 points for the Bears (13-1, 3-0 Big 12), who snapped a whole slew of ignominious streaks with their victory in Lawrence. They beat a top-five team on the road for the first time in 22 attempts, won their fifth straight against a ranked team for the first time in school history and, perhaps most importantly, they beat Kansas (12-3, 2-1) in their personal house of horrors for the first time after playing their first game in the building in 1966.

The loss also ended the Jayhawks’ 28-game home winning streak, the third-longest in the nation.

“I knew at some point Baylor was going to win up here and I was just hoping I would be a part of it,” Bears coach Scott Drew said. “Really pleased it was with this group because they’ve worked extremely hard.”

Isaiah Moss scored 15 points and Marcus Garrett had 11 for the Jayhawks, who lost leading scorer Devon Dotson to a hip pointer for a long stretch midway through the game, preventing them from finding any offensive rhythm.

Kansas was 4 of 15 beyond the arc and committed 14 turnovers that Baylor turned into 21 points.

When asked whether he thought his team knew of all the history wrapped up in a single loss, Kansas coach Bill Self replied: “I’m not going to make a big deal out of it like that.”

“I think when you say it like that — I may be wrong — it’s almost like saying the players here don’t care as much as the players in the past because we got our (butts) handed to us today,” Self continued. “This is sports. If they’re on and you’re not, they’re going to beat you.”

The two Big 12 heavyweights spent the first 10 minutes of the game sizing each other up, and the Jayhawks opened a brief 20-15 lead before the Bears — and Butler and Teague in particular — finally asserted control.

Teague began a 22-4 run to close the first half by beating the shot clock with a 3-pointer. He turned the same trick a few minutes later, right after Butler knocked down a 3 and added a jumper of his own. The quick flurry forced Self to call the first of two fruitless timeouts in the closing minutes of the first half.

The second timeout came as the Bears were hitting seven straight field goals to take a 37-24 lead into the break.

“That,” Self acknowledged, “made the climb a lot harder.”

Making matters worse for Kansas? Dotson hurt his hip with about 50 seconds left in the half. He played on and began the second half, but he grabbed his side again 30 seconds in and immediately returned to the locker room.

The Jayhawks still made a run without the Big 12′s top scorer.

Holding the Bears to a pair of field goals over the first 10 minutes of the second half, Kansas slowly managed to trim its deficit. Udoka Azubuike’s alley-oop dunk got the Jayhawks within 41-36, and Ochai Agbaji’s acrobatic layup a few minutes later provided an answer to yet another 3-pointer from Teague.

But the Jayhawks also misfired on plenty of opportunities to get closer. Garrett committed his fourth turnover with a chance to make it a one-possession game, Moss air-balled a 3-pointer and the Bears collapsed on easy looks in the paint.

That’s when Butler and Teague refused to let another Baylor lead dissipate in the Phog.

The sophomore guard and his junior running mate, who together had carried the Bears to 11 straight wins, began to score at will on the offensive end. They attacked the basket against the Jayhawks’ vaunted big men, dropped a series of open 3s to silence another sellout crowd, and seemingly willed the rest of Drew’s team to the finish line.

Even when Dotson returned to the game, the Jayhawks never hit their stride. The Bears answered every bucket by Azubuike with one of their own, and they kept harassing Garrett into mistakes on offense and silly fouls on defense.

The Bears’ lead eventually swelled to 60-44, and all they had to do was nurse it to a monumental win.

“When you’ve been in the Big 12 long enough, every game, you can’t get too high or to low. They’re all worth the same,” Drew said. “At the same time I know to our fans, it means a great deal. Any time you beat a top team in the country it’s a great win, let alone a conference team. Being able to do something we haven’t done up here, I’m happy it’s this group.”

BIG PICTURE

Baylor had been 0-3 in matchups in which both teams were ranked in the top five, with two of those losses coming to the Jayhawks — add that to the streaks that were broken Saturday. The Bears were efficient on offense, going 8 of 19 from beyond the arc, and they committed just five turnovers in a peerless offensive performance.

Kansas failed to get Azubuike and fellow big men David McCormack and Silvio de Sousa involved in the game, often throwing the ball away while trying to dump it down low. The result was a stunning 28-26 deficit on points in the paint, something few teams will be able to accomplish against the Jayhawks this season.

UP NEXT

Baylor returns home to face Iowa State on Wednesday night.

Kansas begins a two-game road swing Tuesday night at Oklahoma.

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Jan 11, 2020 11:43 PM
Titans stun Ravens, head to AFC title game with 28-12 win

BALTIMORE (AP) — With his bright red shoes and relentless running, Derrick Henry grabbed the spotlight and wouldn’t let go.

When he was done leading Tennessee into the AFC championship game Saturday night, he did a lengthy victory lap around the Baltimore Ravens’ home, slapping hands and taking selfies with Titans fans.

It has been quite a two-week ride.

“It’s not just me,” Henry said after rushing for 195 yards and throwing a 3-yard touchdown pass in a 28-12 upset of the NFL’s top team Saturday night. ”It’s a team effort. We’re all playing collectively as an offense, as a whole. We’re just locked in. We believe in each other. We communicate. It’s working out there.”

The Titans fear no one, and why should they with Henry rushing — and even throwing — the ball, and a big-play defense making clutch stops and turnovers?

One week after dominating defending Super Bowl champion New England, the Titans (11-7) eliminated Baltimore (14-3). The Ravens had won their last 12 games, with quarterback Lamar Jackson setting records and looking unstoppable.

On Saturday night, it was Henry who was unstoppable, despite Baltimore stacking eight men up front on almost two-thirds of his runs. At times, Henry used power to create space, at others the holes the line provided were huge.

“Watch us work,” said Henry, the NFL’s leading rusher this season. “We don’t do too much talking. We just go work and believe in each other. That’s our mentality. We’re going to come in here and work. ... Focus on finishing.”

Tennessee’s defense had two interceptions of All-Pro QB Jackson, who also lost a fumble, and the Titans twice stopped Baltimore on fourth-and-1.

Henry’s jump-pass to Corey Davis displayed yet another of his skills. He has completed three throws in four attempts in his career.

“I put it perfect, man,” he said with a smile. “I haven’t done that pass since high school. I feel l like I still got it.”

But it’s the way he plows over and through opponents that makes Henry — and the Titans — dangerous. Next week, they will go after their second Super Bowl trip and first since the 1999 season, either at Kansas City or Houston. The last sixth seed to get to the big game was Green Bay in the 2010 season; the Packers won it all.

Tennessee scored all of its points off takeaways or fourth-down stops.

Ryan Tannehill’s throws to Jonnu Smith and Kalif Raymond, who missed the last two games in concussion protocol, gave Tennessee a 14-point edge.

Tennessee’s first score came after tight end Mark Andrews, the Ravens’ top receiver this season, mistimed his leap and had Jackson’s pass deflect into the air. Safety Kevin Byard was there to pick it off.

Byard scooted 31 yards down the left side, and with a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Jackson added, the Titans were at the Baltimore 35. The hushed crowd then saw five straight Titans runs to the 4 before Earl Thomas came free untouched for an 8-yard sack.

Tennessee simply shrugged and Smith made a juggling catch in the left corner of the end zone. Replay determined he landed barely in bounds for a 7-0 lead.

A fourth-down stop with less than a yard to go — the first time in nine tries all season the Ravens failed on fourth-and-1 — set up Tennessee’s next touchdown. Tannehill made it 14-0 with his gorgeous long pass that floated over Raymond’s shoulder into his arms behind All-Pro defensive back Marcus Peters for a 45-yard touchdown. That throw accounted for just over half of Tannehill’s yards passing for the entire game: 88.

The folks in the stands dressed in purple, who hadn’t seen their team in such a deep hole since the end of September, had gone silent.

They did wake up for Baltimore’s 12-play second-quarter drive that included a 30-yard completion to rookie Marquise Brown on third down. But the drive netted only Jason Tucker’s 49-yard field goal.

Brown again was instrumental on a late 91-yard drive to Tucker’s 22-yarder as he made a spectacular one-handed grab of a 38-yard pass, also on third down. Getting within one score in a half they were generally outplayed gave the Ravens little boost, though.

“We just beat ourselves,” Jackson said. “I had a lot of mistakes on my behalf. Three turnovers. That shouldn’t happen.”

Henry’s 66-yard romp on third-and-1 led to his passing TD on a direct snap in the third quarter, followed one play later by Jurrell Casey forcing Jackson’s fumble, recovered by rookie Jeffery Simmons. Tannehill’s 1-yard run made it 28-6.

“They were beating people with shock and awe in the first quarter,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of the Ravens’ winning streak. “We knew we had to do it with some turnovers and fourth-down stops. That’s the only way you can do it. Make Tucker kick some field goals.”

MORE HENRY

Henry’s TD pass was the first by a running back in the playoffs since 1987, when Allen Rice of Minnesota managed it.

Henry is the first player with two games of 175 rushing yards or more in the same postseason. He has set the postseason single-game rushing record for the Titans in consecutive weeks.

He also has the most yards rushing through his first four postseason games, coming in with 366 and now is at 561, beating Hall of Famer Terrell Davis and Arian Foster, who were tied with 515 through their first four.

“It’s going to be grind, grind, grind and then he’s going to bust one,” Vrabel said.

LAMAR’S LAMENT

Jackson’s superb season ended with a major thud. He finished with gaudy numbers — 31 of 59 for 365 yards, 20 carries for 143 yards — and a 15-yard TD pass to Hayden Hurst. But the Ravens flopped ignominiously.

Jackson was better than in his previous playoff game, a wild-card loss to the Chargers last year. At halftime in that one, Jackson was 2 of 8 for 17 yards and an interception for a 0.0 quarterback rating. He came on in helping Baltimore make that one close in the second half.

“I don’t care about what they say,” Jackson said about the likely criticism of his postseason showings. “This is my second year in the league. I’ve got a great team with me. We’re going to keep going and get ready for next year.”

UP NEXT

Titans: On to either Kansas City or division rival Houston in the AFC title game.

Ravens: Their superb season and 3 1/2 months of winning are over and they head into the offseason way early than expected.