WACO, Texas (AP)—Kansas’ big early lead had quieted the Baylor crowd to the point that Brandon Rush could hear a handful of Bears fans heckling him.
His answer: a smile, a nod at the scoreboard, then a dunk.
“I heard it,” Rush said. “It was real quiet. They didn’t have any crowd to feed off of.”
Officially, the attendance was listed at 8,102. But the crowd was peppered with vocal Jayhawks fans and Baylor fans had little to cheer about as No. 8 Kansas bolted to an early 17-point lead before settling into an easy 82-56 victory Wednesday night.
Rush scored 18 points and Julian Wright chipped in 16 as the Jayhawks held the Bears to 30 percent shooting and just a single basket for the first 11 minutes.
“We executed. We were aggressive. We looked a lot like the team we’re supposed to look like,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
The Bears’ bench was quiet too. Coach Scott Drew was courtside a little more than 24 hours after having an appendectomy Tuesday, but he stayed in his seat and let assistant Matt Driscoll do most of the game coaching.
“Coach Drew was very involved in what was going on,” Driscoll said. “I was just a puppet out there to get into the officials a little bit and get up and down a little bit.”
Curtis Jerrells scored 12 to lead the Bears (11-8, 1-5).
Baylor, which has lost three straight and was coming off a 40-point defeat at Oklahoma, got off to a horrible start on its home court with 1-of-16 shooting and trailed by 22 at halftime.
Wright slammed two thunderous dunks early and the Baylor misfires frustrated Bears fans. It was still early when the group sitting near the court tried to heckle Rush.
Instead of getting in Rush’s head, the hecklers almost immediately went silent.
Sherron Collins hit a 3-pointer and Rush slammed down a rebound, then ran up court with another nod to the crowd, this time to a boisterous group of Kansas fans chanting “Let’s go, Jay-hawks!”
“The game’s not over by any means, but that can be a little frustrating to a crowd I would think,” Self said. “I think it does take the air out of their sails.”
Rush then hit a 3-pointer and a high, arcing shot at the buzzer to send the Jayhawks into halftime leading 40-18. Kansas shot 64 percent in the first half. He and Wright both had nine points and combined for 11 rebounds in the first half.
Wright’s play early was critical to getting the big lead, Self said.
“When he plays well, usually Kansas follows,” Self said.
The Jayhawks maintained a comfortable lead throughout the second.
Rush hit a 3-pointer from the left corner and Mario Chalmers hit two from the top of the arc as the Jayhawks stretched the lead to 59-31.
The Bears managed to whittle the lead to under 20 when Henry Dugat stole the ball at midcourt and finished an acrobatic layup with just under 9 minutes left.
Kansas quickly snuffed any hint of a rally when Collins hit a 3-pointer and Darrell Arthur floated a short jumper that put the Jayhawks up 66-43.
Defensively, Rush also shut down Baylor shooting guard Aaron Bruce, holding him to 3-of-12 shooting and eight points.
“(Rush) is very athletic and long,” said Bruce, who is 6-foot-3. “It’s always tough for a smaller guy to going up against a 6-7 guy. He can get his hands to shots that guys my height can’t.”