Baylor will be looking to get back on track after its first loss in more than three months when the No. 2-ranked Bears host reeling Kansas State on Tuesday in Waco, Texas.
The Bears (24-2, 13-1 Big 12) fell 64-61 to then-No. 3 Kansas on Saturday in a titanic conference battle. The loss ended Baylor's five-week stint atop the Associated Press poll.
The defeat, Baylor's first since Nov. 8 when it fell to Washington in the Armed Forces Classic in Alaska, snapped the Bears' Big 12-record 23-game winning streak and dropped them into a first-place tie with the Jayhawks with four games to play in the regular season.
Jared Butler led the Bears with 19 points, while Freddie Gillespie and Matthew Mayer added 10 each. Baylor was just 8 of 15 from the free-throw line, a huge statistic in a game that ended up decided by just three points.
"If you hit your free throws down the stretch, then it's a different situation," Baylor coach Scott Drew said after the loss. "Close games, that's why the free-throw line is such a big part of it. ... The other thing is normally when we miss free throws, we get a couple rebounds of those. Kansas did a good job blocking us out."
Trailing by seven with 32.3 seconds left, Baylor climbed back to within one on back-to-back 3-pointers by Butler and MaCio Teague, who returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a wrist injury.
"That shows you the heart of our team," Drew said. "Normally, when you're not playing well, you can hang your head. But, why we've been successful is our guys pick each other up, and one mistake doesn't lead to two because they care about their teammates."
Kansas State heads to Waco after a 70-59 loss at home to Texas on Saturday, the seventh consecutive setback for the reeling Wildcats. Kansas State hadn't lost seven straight games since the 2000-01 season.
Kansas State (9-18, 2-12) was led by Xavier Sneed with 15 points, with Makol Mawien adding 14 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
The Wildcats shot just 34.5 percent (20 of 58) and missed all but three of their 14 3-point attempts. Kansas State also missed 11 layups and struggled from the line, finishing 16 of 29. The Wildcats didn't get a bucket from the floor in the final seven minutes of the half. Texas outscored Kansas State 19-11 in points off turnovers.
"We turn people over, but then we turned the ball over too [much], which led to points off turnovers for them," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "We gave too many easy ones to them to start. Got to take care of the ball, make a couple of plays, put a little pressure on them, and it's a totally different game."
This low-water mark for the season comes right before the toughest stretch of the year for Kansas State. After the Wildcats play Baylor on the road, they will come back home to host rival Kansas.
"It's a great opportunity for us," Weber said. "You have nothing to lose, no one expects you to win. Come and play."
--Field Level Media