No. 2 Kansas swamps No. 23 Baylor with big run in 102-74 win
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self has a theory about why Wayne Selden Jr. has been so good this season.
“Mentorship,” he said with a wry smile. “Coaching, that’s what it’s got to be, right?”
Along with hours in the gym, a tweak to his shooting mechanics and the realization that the junior guard could be the biggest reason the second-ranked Jayhawks make another Final Four run.
Selden hit five 3-pointers and scored 24 points on Saturday, leading Kansas on a big early run that swamped No. 23 Baylor in a 102-74 victory to start Big 12 play.
“We don’t have anything to do with it. It’s him,” Self said, dropping the charade. “He’s driving the ball to set up shots, instead of hoping to make shots. He’s playing smarter. He’s just playing at a very high level.”
He isn’t the only one. Perry Ellis added 17 points, Devonte Graham had 15 and Frank Mason III had 11 for the Jayhawks (12-1, 1-0), who charged out to a 24-4 lead and kept it the rest of the game.
It was the Jayhawks’ sixth straight win over Baylor — which has never won in 14 trips to Lawrence — and 25th consecutive conference-opening win. It was also their 31st straight win at Allen Fieldhouse, where No. 3 ranked Oklahoma will visit for another high-profile showdown Monday night.
“It should be a great atmosphere,” Self said. “It should be hopping.”
Taurean Prince had 13 of his 17 points in the second half for the Bears. Lester Medford added 15, all but three after the break, while Rico Gathers finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Offense wasn’t the issue for Baylor, though. It was its zone defense, which typically befuddles opponents. But the Jayhawks’ long, lanky shooters hit five of their first six 3-point attempts, then started to slash to the basket when lanes opened, forcing the Bears into man-to-man.
After the Bears scored the opening point on a free throw, the Jayhawks ripped off a 24-3 run over the next 10 minutes that forced Baylor coach Scott Drew to burn two timeouts.
“They came out hot,” Prince said. “We didn’t.”
Selden did most of the damage, hitting three 3-pointers, but in truth just about everybody got into the act. Graham’s 3-pointer led it off. Ellis had a put-back and 3 of his own. Mason added his own basket along with a couple of nifty feeds that set up more easy looks.
The lead quickly stretched to 20 points, and was still 28-8 with about 10 minutes to go.
What eventually slowed down the Jayhawks were fouls, which consequently turned into the Bears’ best offense. Baylor scored 19 points from the field and 13 from the line in the first 20 minutes.
The Jayhawks went through a short shooting slump early in the second half, and a basket by Gathers in the paint made it 52-40 with just under 17 minutes to go. But Graham answered with a deep jumper at the other end, and Ellis scored on consecutive possessions to help Kansas regain control.
The lead never approached single digits again as the Jayhawks drew away.
“I think there’s no doubt,” Drew said, “who the No. 1 team in the nation is.”
The double-round robin schedule means Baylor gets a visit from Kansas on Feb. 23. “It’s a great opportunity to see how much we get better between now and the next time we face them,” Drew said.
Told that Drew thought he had become a complete player, Selden replied: “I don’t know if I have become a complete player. Just trying to be aggressive, do things to help the team win.”
Baylor: Al Freeman, averaging more than 13 points, was 2 of 10 from the field and had six points. ... The Bears entered the game leading the nation in assists at more than 22 per game. They had eight. ... Baylor was 25 of 31 from the free-throw line.
Kansas: Selden matched a career-best with five 3-pointers. ... Jayhawks coach Bill Self improved to 197-9 at the Phog. He is 17-4 against Baylor overall. ... The Jayhawks have shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc in 10 of their last 11 games. They were 11 of 19 in this one.
Baylor hosts Oklahoma State on Tuesday night.
Kansas hosts No. 3 Oklahoma on Monday night.