The Baylor men’s basketball team is holding strong at the No. 2 spot of the NCAA rankings as they remain undefeated halfway through the 2020-21 season (here’s what I wrote about them prior to the season). The undefeated Bears come in after only Gonzaga (14-0) and both teams have held their AP rankings for nine consecutive weeks. Baylor was supposed to challenge the Bulldogs early last month, but after two members of Gonzaga’s traveling team tested positive for COVID, the schools mutually agreed to postpone the game and reschedule it on a later date (still no word on the new date). Despite this cancellation, the Bears have played outstanding game on both offense and defense, ranking at No. 2 in KenPom as well. Since the start of the season, Baylor has beaten then-ranked No. 5 Illinois, No. 15 Texas Tech, and No. 9 Kansas (watch today’s highlights against the Jayhawks below).
Kansas used to be the Bears’ most challenging opponent (in conference play, that is), but Baylor’s aggressive defense held the Jayhawks to a mere 69 points. Jared Butler was the star of the show with 30 points and shooting 71% in field goals and 78% in 3s. The Bears added to their undefeated record as the team shot 53.8% of field goals and 47.4% of 3s. Baylor has been extremely successful the first half of the season because of their next man up mentality and collective teamwork. They don’t have a weekly hero who makes the game only about him, but instead, their rotating starters and bench players feed off of each other’s skills and energy. It’s exciting to see how Head Coach Scott Drew has developed a team of mostly Guards without a clear middle defense play at such a high national caliber. Although the Bears haven’t faced their most difficult tests yet as Gonzaga, Texas (the first round), and West Virginia (the first round) were postponed, Baylor hasn’t yet hit their stride yet and the second half of the season is just as promising as the first!