No. 4 Kansas wins 14th straight, coasts past Baylor 61-44By The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Tue, Jan 15, 2013 12:30 AM EST
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Baylor brought in a 7-foot-1 center Monday who figured to contest Kansas inside. That, plus a shifty point guard, a deadly 3-point gunner and 3-0 conference mark that made the Bears the early leaders in the Big 12. No. 4 Kansas, however, was hardly deterred by the threat Baylor posed. The Jayhawks asserted tough defensive pressure early and never let up, smothering the Bears, 61-44, in Allen Fieldhouse. The win was the 14th straight for Kansas, which climbed to 15-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12, a conference with two other unbeaten teams that stand 2-0 in the league, Kansas State and Oklahoma. The Jayhawks capped a run of four wins in eight days. "I'm most happy with our team in how we went through this swing of games,'' senior guard Elijah Johnson said. "We handled it well. I'm proud of our team for being able to stand up and keep playing and ignore the fatigue in our bodies.'' Despite the presence of 7-1 freshman Isaiah Austin underneath, senior Pierre Jackson running the offense and long-range shooter Brady Heslip, the Bears (11-5, 3-1 Big 12) never caught fire. They were limited to 23.2 percent shooting as the Jayhawks forced 16 turnovers and blocked 13 shots. "Give credit to the defense, but offensively, we have to figure some things out,'' Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "We can't struggle all year long. Defense wasn't played at the free throw line, but we still shot 60 percent (14 of 23) there. We've got to do a better job shooting the ball.'' The only scare for Kansas came with just 2:44 remaining when freshman sensation Ben McLemore landed wrong and sprained his right ankle. He lay on the floor for a long stretch before getting up and limping to the locker room. Afterward, KU coach Bill Self said he did not consider McLemore's injury to be serious and expected the 6-foot-5 wing to only miss two to three days of practice before the Jayhawks travel Saturday to Texas. McLemore paced the Jayhawks with 17 points, going 4 of 5 in the second half, and also added a team-high eight rebounds. In addition to a 3-pointer he made with 3:55 left, McLemore added a highlight jam at the 3:31 mark off a lob feed from Johnson. Johnson added 12 points and Travis Releford had 10 for Kansas. Baylor, which had a three-game win streak snapped, was led by Austin with 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Jackson added 10, but missed 10 of 12 shots after coming in as the Big 12 scoring leader with a 19.2-point average. Backup forward Rico Gathers led all rebounders with 13 boards. "We just kind of played into their hand,'' BU senior guard A.J. Walton said. "We had quick shots and didn't really take care of the ball at all.'' The Bears' 44-point output was their lowest since a 77-43 loss at SMU on Dec. 16, 2004 in Drew's second season as BU's coach. The 44 points were the fewest allowed by Kansas in a conference game since holding Nebraska to 39 in 2007. "I thought we did a good job guarding them,'' Self said. "We were so aggressive. We had 10 blocked shots at half and several strips. In the second half, we kind of played a little more contained. I know they missed some good looks, but they didn't get as many as maybe some other teams have gotten on us.'' Baylor could not cope with the Kansas defense throughout the first half. The Bears made just 6 of 27 shots (22 percent) as the Jayhawks bolted to a 33-20 halftime lead. The Bears scored the first basket 20 seconds into the game, then did not connect for another field goal until the 12:56 mark. The Jayhawks combined a sticky man-to-man defense with solid pressure in the backcourt to force eight first-half turnovers. They also managed 10 blocks, with five players getting two apiece. McLemore paced Kansas with eight first-half points. NOTES: Baylor started 3-0 in Big 12 play with victories against three in-state conference rivals. That run boosted BU's win streak against Texas rivals to 14. ... Kansas senior Travis Releford entered the game 27 of 34 from the field in his previous six games. ... KU coach Bill Self is now 15-0 in Big Monday games played at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas is now 10-0 against Baylor in Allen Fieldhouse and 11-0 in games played in Lawrence. ... More than 20 NBA scouts attended the game.
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