Load The Wagon: Kansas basketball player ratings from A to Z in win over Baylor

Baylor v Kansas
Baylor v Kansas / Jay Biggerstaff/GettyImages
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Tonight's game was a friendly reminder to Jayhawk Nation and our haters out there. Coming off a road overtime loss at K-State where we ran out of gas, we needed to defend Allen Fieldhouse.

Big 12 leading scorer Kevin McCullar still suffering from a bone bruise in his knee did not suit up. Doesn't matter just win. Jamari McDowell was sick and didn't suit up. Doesn't matter just win. That left the Jayhawks with just seven scholarship players. Doesn't matter just win.

The Jayhawks shot an icy 23.8% from deep going 5-for-21. Doesn't matter just win. Bears outrebounded us 42-25. Doesn't matter just win. Your All-American Center is outplayed and outscored by opposing center Yves Missi 21-15. Doesn't matter just win. Your point guard rolls his ankle with 4 minutes left. Doesn't matter just win. Give up two wide-open threes at the end of the game that could have tied the game. Doesn't matter just win. That is just what the Jayhawks did.

It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was ugly most of the night. However, our boys did what they always do — fight, scrap, and find a way to win at home. It moved the Jayhawks to 14-0 at Allen Fieldhouse on the year.

The first half saw KU go up by as many as 13 points at one point and looked like we could cruise. A foul on a 3-pointer and a technical foul by Coach Self cut a 10-point lead to five. The Jayhawks went into halftime up 6. Hunter led the way in the first half with 13 points.

The second half was a grind. Kansas had a lot of missed shots but they battled on defense and held a slim lead the whole way. Nicolas Timberlake, getting the start in place of Kevin McCullar, made several huge plays. He also had some very bad plays that included leaving a Baylor Bear wide open in the corner for a three by overhelping.

He followed that with a big rebound but then missed the front end of the 1-and-1 that could have put the game away. Another botched switch left another wide-open three that luckily missed. The Jayhawks survived 64-61.

This team at its best can beat anyone in the country. This team at its worst struggles on the road and has to scrap to get victories at home. Tonight there are no apologies or what-ifs. It was a short-handed big-time win against a top 13-ranked team. But this is Kansas. This is what we expect. We don't lose at home no matter who we have out there and no matter who we are playing. Just Load the Wagon and get it done!

Kansas Basketball Player Ratings vs. Baylor

Feb 10, 2024; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward K.J. Adams Jr. (24) brings the ball up
Feb 10, 2024; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward K.J. Adams Jr. (24) brings the ball up / William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Tier 1: Big Jays

1. KJ Adams

KJ had a big night on both sides of the floor. KJ flew around on defense, making plays and helping switch and cover the paint. He has become a consistent ball handler capable of bringing it up off the rebound or beating the press. On offense, he was a nearly perfect 6-for-7 from the field. KJ finished with 13 points, four rebounds, two assists, three steals, and one turnover.

2. Dajuan Harris

Playing without Kevin McCullar, we needed Dajuan to step up and score more. While it wasn't always pretty, as he missed multiple layups and floaters, he looked to score more, which is what we needed tonight. Juan was 5-for-12 from the field. He rolled his ankle going in for a layup with four minutes left. He hobbled off and missed the next two minutes. Juan later came back and scored our last points at the 1:42 mark to put us up 64-59. He gutted out the last two minutes and helped us get over the finish line. Juan finished with 14 points, five assists, one rebound, two steals, and one turnover.

3. Johnny Furphy

Johnny did not have a signature shooting night, going 2-for-8 from the field including 0-for-6 from three. Johnny did attack more and draw fouls, going 7-for-7 from the charity stripe. He was active on defense, making plays to the tune of a team-high six steals. Furphy had 11 points, five rebounds, one assist, six steals, and one turnover.