Jared Butler has been a thorn in Kansas’ side since he erupted for a career-high 31 points as a freshman two years ago in an intimidating environment at Allen Fieldhouse.
Not much has changed.
Butler came out hot and never cooled off as he amassed 30 points and eight assists to lead the No. 2 Bears to a 77-69 win over No. 9 Kansas on Monday night at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor’s preseason All-America guard nailed 10 of 14 field goals with seven of nine from 3-point range as the Bears (13-0, 6-0) remained the Big 12’s only unbeaten team.
In five career games against the Jayhawks, Butler has averaged 23.2 points.
“It might be the (Kansas) blue, it might be that they didn’t recruit me, I don’t know,” Butler said. “It’s always a big game when you play Kansas, and I love playing big games. It’s just my will and competitiveness.”
The Jayhawks (10-4, 4-3) lost back-to-back Big 12 games for the first time in eight years despite a 17-point performance by Christian Braun with 17 points and Ochai Agbaji with 16.
With MaCio Teague scoring 13 points and Davion Mitchell hitting 10, the Bears shot 53.8 percent. Led by Mark Vital with 10 rebounds, the Bears also hit the boards hard as they outrebounded the Jayhawks, 29-23.
But it was Butler who provided the big shots all night.
“Obviously, Jared was on fire and the guys did a great job getting the ball to him,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “We also have to give an assist to the crowd. We were allowed to have 25 percent capacity and they made a big difference.”
Due to COVID-19 protocol, Baylor didn’t have nearly the crowd of last February when the Jayhawks pulled off a 64-61 win before a standing room-only 10,627 fans. The win snapped No. 1 Baylor’s school-record 23-game winning streak and provided the momentum to go on and win the Big 12 championship.
But the 2,350 fans at the Ferrell Center made a lot of noise from the opening tipoff, and the Bears gave them a lot to cheer about.
Beginning with his 3-pointer on the opening possession, Butler was Baylor’s go-to man all night.
After Teague scored on a putback, Butler drove into the lane, drew a foul and hit the free throw for a three-point play to give the Bears an 8-2 lead.
Adam Flagler found Vital for an alley-oop slam before Butler buried a long 3-pointer from the top of the arc to stretch Baylor’s lead to 14-5 with 15:41 left in the first half.
With nine points in the first six minutes, Butler had already topped the seven points he scored Saturday against Texas Tech. After missing his first nine shots, Butler didn’t score for the first 35 minutes of the game in the 68-60 win.
With Braun hitting three 3-pointers, the Jayhawks finally found some offensive juice. His two free throws cut Baylor’s lead to 28-18 with 7:28 left in the first half.
But the Bears kept expanding their lead as Flo Thamba nailed an outside shot, Teague scored on a runner and Butler buried another 3-pointer to push the lead to 37-21.
Weaving through Kansas’ defense, Butler gave the Bears a 41-26 edge before Jalen Wilson answered with a drive to cut Baylor’s halftime lead to 41-28.
Butler picked up where he left off to open the second half as he scored in a drive and stepped outside drained a 3-pointer.
But Agbaji buried three 3-pointers as the Jayhawks kept cutting into Baylor’s lead. With Agbaji hitting a pair of free throws and a slam, Kansas cut the lead to 56-51 with 10 minutes remaining.
Butler had the answer again as he passed to Vital for a dunk and then drained another 3-pointer from the top of the arc. With Teague hitting a short jumper and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua driving inside, the Bears went on a 9-0 run to open up a 65-51 lead with seven minutes remaining.
The Jayhawks weren’t through as they responded with a 9-0 run of their own that began with Braun’s 3-pointer and ended with Jalen Wilson’s slam.
Teague stopped the Jayhawks’ run as he drove for a basket, drew a foul from Marcus Garrett, and hit the free throw to stretch Baylor’s lead to 71-60 with 1:48 remaining.