Baylor's FT shooting helps beat K-State, 76-74

DAVE SKRETTA (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated PressMarch 8, 2014
Baylor's FT shooting helps beat K-State, 76-74
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Kansas State's Nino Williams is pressured by Baylor's Cory Jefferson, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 8, 2014, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- Kenny Chery had 10 of Baylor's 17 consecutive made free throws down the stretch, finishing with a career-high 29 points and leading the Bears to a 76-74 victory over Kansas State on Saturday.

Cory Jefferson added 16 points for the Bears (21-10, 9-9 Big 12), who erased a 12-point second-half deficit to win for the seventh time in their last eight games. They also beat the Wildcats (20-11, 10-8) twice in the same season for the first time in school history.

Kansas State had the ball with three-tenths of a second left, but Will Spradling's full-court inbound pass was picked off by Jefferson, allowing time to run out.

Baylor's winning stretch coincides with the return of Chery to the starting lineup. He had been struggling with turf toe earlier in the season, when the Bears were slip-sliding through the conference schedule and in danger of being eliminated from NCAA tournament contention.

Now, they're riding a wave of momentum into next week's Big 12 tournament.

Marcus Foster scored 29 points while Thomas Gipson added 16 and Nino Williams 15 for the Wildcats, who had their school-record 15-game winning streak at Bramlage Coliseum come to an end.

Baylor struggled on offense right from the start, turning it over five times in the opening minutes and sending coach Scott Drew into such a tizzy that he earned a technical foul.

The Wildcats took advantage of the sloppiness - and a slew of fouls - to race to a 13-4 lead by the midway point of the first half. And even though the Bears trimmed it to 23-21 later in the half, Kansas State poured in enough free throws to forge a 33-25 lead by the break.

The point total matched the second-fewest for the Bears in a half this season, trailing only their 21-point first half in a double-overtime victory over Kansas State in Waco, Texas.

Kansas State pushed its lead out to 37-25 early in the second half, the biggest of the game for either team. But the Wildcats suddenly went cold form the field, making only two field goals over the next 8 minutes, and started to turn the ball over in half-court sets.

The Bears methodically bit into the deficit by pounding away inside, and Brady Heslip's 3-pointer with about 10 minutes remaining gave them their first lead.

It was still 46-all with about 8 minutes left when the Wildcats started to miss free throws about as efficiently as Baylor did in the first half. They clanked out five of six at one point, and the Bears slowly crept out to a 56-49 lead with about 5 minutes remaining.

Every time the Wildcats threatened to get close, the Bears had an answer.

Foster hit a 3-pointer to make it 66-62, and Royce O'Neale was fouled and made two free throws. Foster hit another 3, Chery made two free throws. Gipson scored with 31 seconds left to make it 70-67, and Chery again stepped to the foul line and made two free throws.

Gary Franklin added two more free throws with 14.4 seconds left, and after Foster's final 3-pointer, Chery finished off the incredible display of foul shooting with two more to wrap it up.