LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—Kansas coach Bill Self said he saw it coming.
Freshman Julian Wright scored 20 points and the 16th-ranked Jayhawks beat Baylor 76-61 Tuesday night for their 10th straight victory.
Wright finished 10-for-11 from the field and Kansas got 32 points in the paint against the outmanned Bears, but looked lethargic throughout. Coming right after a big win over archrival Missouri and right before a trip to No. 7 Texas that’ll probably decide the Big 12 crown, the Jayhawks never were able to generate much enthusiasm from themselves or their normally raucous crowd.
“We didn’t play with any energy all night long,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “This is the worst outing that we’ve had from an energy standpoint in quite some time. But I expected it. It was a sandwich game and we really didn’t get after them like we could have.”
Wright, a 6-foot-8 swingman often overlooked among a talented freshman class that also includes Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush, hit his usual variety of inside and outside shots and also had five rebounds.
“I was just trying to run the floor,” he said. “Mario gave me a few good feeds early.”
The Bears (2-11), not allowed to play a non-conference schedule because of NCAA sanctions, avoided a rout by making nine of 14 3-pointers in the second half.
“We did a good job well from 3s,” Baylor guard Aaron Bruce said. “They did a good job of blocking us out and forcing us into plays we didn’t want to make.”
The Jayhawks (20-6, 11-2 Big 12) took a half-game lead in the league race ahead of No. 7 Texas, which plays at Kansas State on Wednesday night. The Longhorns host the Jayhawks on Saturday.
Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team has already lost to Texas twice, likes the Jayhawks’ chances.
“They have the talent and the athletic ability and the depth,” Drew said. “They are right there.”
Kansas guard Jeff Hawkins was suspended for the game following his citation on Sunday morning for leaving the scene of a minor traffic accident at a fast food restaurant. Self said he would probably play against Texas.
“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “It’s about being responsible. You have a situation and then you don’t handle it the way you should handle it. The incident is not a big deal but you can’t not accept responsibility when it occurs.”
Baylor has lost 22 straight games against ranked opponents, and 30 of its last 33 away from home. But the Bears shot 40 percent against a Kansas team that came in leading the nation with a 36.1-percent field-goal defense.
“At least this game, we were in it,” Drew said. “They had the cushion in the second half, but it wasn’t a 30-point game. I was pleased with how we competed for 40 minutes.”
After hitting their first three shots, the Bears missed 14 of 16 and Kansas went on a 10-0 run. Rush made a 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Jayhawks a 31-13 lead.
But then Tommy Swanson hit a 3 for Baylor with 7:05 left in the half and the Bears went on a 10-0 run. Kansas led 33-25 at halftime.
Freshman Curtis Jerrells scored 17 points for Baylor. Bruce and Swanson each had 13.
The Jayhawks shot 52 percent. Rush and Darnell Jackson scored 11 points apiece and C.J. Giles had 10.