No. 8 Kansas Bounces Back at Baylor, 69-52
WACO, Texas — First points of the game rarely come in grander fashion than freshman guard Andrew Wiggins’ half-court buzzer beater to send the game to halftime, yet the rookie guard followed it up with 11 second-half points to send No. 8/9 Kansas past Baylor, 69-52, Tuesday evening inside the Ferrell Center.
Ready to rebound from its first conference loss on Saturday at Texas, Kansas (17-5, 8-1 Big 12) made its second trip to the Lone Star state in the last four days to sweep the season series against Baylor (14-8, 2-7 Big 12). KU’s victory maintained first-place status in the Big 12 Conference standings through the midway point, while handing the Bears its longest home court losing streak since the 2004-05 season.
KU’s league-leading field goal percentage put up against Baylor’s Big 12-best three-point efficiency ended in favor of the Jayhawks. KU outdid BU from the floor 46.3 (25-for-54) to 29.1 percent (16-for-55) advantage for the evening, a season-low for the Bears. While the Big 12’s best three-point shooter, Baylor senior guard Brady Heslip, made his presence known early with four three-pointers in the first half, he went 0-for-7 from three-point territory in the second half. By night’s end, KU had the market cornered in the three-point race, as well, making 6-of-10 attempts from beyond the arc compared to Baylor’s 6-of-20.
Wiggins’ half-court launch was a highlight worthy, but not the driving force behind the Jayhawk offense. Junior guard Naadir Tharpe provided not just the high score, but the consistency on Tuesday. He led all players with 14 points at halftime and went on to a game-high 22 points – just one off his career-high. His nine field goals broke his previous personal best, while his four threes tied his career mark.
Joining the guards on the leaderboard was sophomore forward Perry Ellis and senior forward Tarik Black. Ellis quietly put up his third double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Black nicely filled the minutes left open by a foul-plagued Joel Embiid. Black’s nine rebounds marked his most as a Jayhawk and he added six points.
Junior forward Cory Jefferson led the Bears with 14 points, while sophomore forward Rico Gathers pulled down a team-high nine boards on a night that Kansas dominated the glass, 45-31. Heslip added 12 points, all of which came from his four three-pointers in the first half.
Heslip and the Bears struck first when his first three-pointer just over a minute in to give the Bears a quick 5-0 lead. An 8-2 Jayhawk run, six of which coming from Ellis, quickly relegated the start and set a more even – and slower – scoring tone. Back-to-back layups from sophomore forward Jamari Traylor tilted the lead toward the Jayhawks at the under-12 media timeout, 12-11.
Missed shots under the basket on both sides of the floor kept the scoreboard relatively quiet. Getting the ball back to the perimeter did the trick on both sides. Heslip sandwiched his second and third threes around Tharpe’s first of the night to tie the game, 19-19. Although KU couldn’t match Heslip shot-for-shot from behind the arc, the Jayhawks found several options inside. Tharpe offset an odd turnover with six-straight points to regain the advantage.
When Black’s defensive rebound evolved into a Wayne Selden, Jr. to Ellis dunk in transition and Tharpe downed his second three of the night, the Jayhawks shifted into control. If control hadn’t been seized before that point, Wiggins’ first points of the game did the trick. The rookie Jayhawk launched a half-court-and-then-some trey, sending his team to halftime with its biggest lead of the half, 35-27.
Tharpe got the ball rolling out of the break, connecting from three-point distance to see KU take its first double-digit lead of the evening, 38-27. In danger of momentum getting away from them, the Bears put together a 5-0 run to cut KU’s lead back to six and a Bill Self timeout soon followed.
While Wiggins’ first points came in dramatic fashion, he was still searching for bucket No. 2. Meanwhile, foul trouble haunted Embiid as he was sent to the bench with three fouls early in the second half without a point to his name. Meanwhile, two-straight scores from Jefferson and Isaiah Austin powered the Bears to a 9-2 run, again halting the visitors from breaking the game open.
Embiid’s fourth foul sent Taurean Prince to the line, where he made both to slice the lead to a mere three points, 45-42. What started as an 11-point lead to kick off the second half dwindled rapidly thanks to a 2-for-10 KU shooting slump through the middle of the frame.
Sensing his team’s need for a jolt, the Kansas point guard delivered. Tharpe pulled up from the top of the key and knocked down a crucial three-pointer, and KU grasped control once again. Wiggins piggy-backed it, coming up with his second and third baskets in back-to-back fashion. Less than 30 seconds separated his three-pointer and dunk that shoved KU’s lead back to double-digits with eight minutes to play, 54-44.
There it would remain as the Jayhawks used late fouls and last-minute scores to cruise toward victory. Embiid finally got his opportunity, as well, chalking up five points in the final four minutes en route to the 69-52 win.
Kansas returns home to host West Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m. on ESPN and then play at Kansas State on its third of four ESPN Big Mondays on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. The Jayhawks will host TCU on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 3 p.m. on the Big 12 Television Network.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): Jr. Naadir Tharpe (19/19), Fr. Wayne Selden, Jr. (22/22), Fr. Andrew Wiggins (22/22), So. Perry Ellis (22/25), Fr. Joel Embiid (14/14)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 21-4
ATTENDANCE: 8,305 (10,284 capacity)
- Improved KU to 17-5 on the season
- Made Kansas 8-1 in Big 12 play for the first time since the 2010-11 season
- Bumped up KU’s all-time series lead over Baylor to 21-4, including 9-2 at the Ferrell Center
- Made Bill Self 13-4 all-time against BU (13-3 while at KU), 317-64 while at Kansas and 524-169 overall
- Made KU 2,118-817 all-time
- Baylor’s loss was the Bears’ fourth-straight at home, BU’s longest home losing streak since dropping six in a row during the 2004-05 season.
- Kansas held the Bears to a season-low 52 points. It’s lowest scoring output at home since beating TCU 51-40 last season in Waco.
- Kansas shot 46.3 percent (25-for-54) as a team and held Baylor to a season-low 29.1 field goal percentage (16-for-55). The 16 field goals were a season-low for any KU opponent this season and also marks the first time KU has held an opponent under 30 percent shooting since keeping Missouri to a 29.3 mark on March 5, 2011.
- That’s the first time since the Battle 4 Atlantis that KU shot under 50 percent in back-to-back games. (38.5 percent at Texas; 46.3 at Baylor)
- For the second-straight game, KU tied a season-low with 13 makes from the free-throw line (13-for-20).
- Baylor began the night as the Big 12’s most efficient three-point shooting team, but Kansas shot 60 percent (6-for-10) compared to Baylor’s 30 percent (6-for-20).
- That was due in large part to holding the Big 12’s best three-point shooter, senior G Brady Heslip, to zero points in the second half after he made four three-pointers in the opening stanza.
- KU outrebounded Baylor, 45-31, marking the fifth time in Big 12 play – and 10th time overall – that the Jayhawks’ rebounding margin surpassed double-digits.
- Junior G Naadir Tharpe led all scorers at halftime with 14 points and for the game with 22 – one shy of his career-high and his fourth 20+ point performance of his career.
- Tharpe went 9-for-13 from the floor, setting a new career-high for field goals, while his four three-pointers tied a career-high.
- Freshman G Andrew Wiggins nailed KU’s first half-court shot of the season to end the first half. His buzzer beater also marked his first points of the game.
- Thanks to the long ball, Wiggins had three points at halftime. He scored his 14 total points in the last 20:01 of the game.
- Wiggins tied his career-high in blocks (2), steals (3) and assists (5).
- Senior F Tarik Black set a new season-high with nine rebounds.
- Sophomore F Perry Ellis cranked out his third double-double of the year and fourth of his career with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
- Freshman C Joel Embiid was in danger of not scoring for the first time this season. He scored his first point with 3:44 remaining and ended the night with five points and seven rebounds.
- Embiid rejected one shot and now has 57 blocks on the season, just five behind Eric Chenowith (62, 1998) for the Kansas freshman blocking record.
- Embiid now has a block in 16-straight games.
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