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Kansas bounces back to beat Baylor

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WACO, Texas — No. 8 Kansas bounced back to earn a split in its Big 12 two-step through Texas.

After the Jayhawks fell to No. 25 Texas on Saturday, guard Naadir Tharpe led a rejuvenated Kansas team to a 69-52 win over Baylor on Tuesday at the Ferrell Center.

Tharpe tallied 22 points, four assists and five rebounds, and he came up with the big baskets when Kansas needed them.

He hit a 3-pointer with 1:05 left in the first half, then made another 10 seconds into the second half. In between, Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins tossed in a half-court shot at the first-half buzzer.

Tharpe’s trey to open the second half finished a 9-0 run that gave the Jayhawks an 11-point cushion.

The Kansas players said the emphasis since the Texas loss was on attacking earlier and with more intensity.

“Just be aggressive,” Tharpe said. “We can’t come out there with no energy. Texas played a great game and we didn’t come out with any type of energy. We had to come out live right away.”

Baylor fought back, cutting the deficit to 45-42 after forward Taurean Prince made two free throws with just under 13 minutes remaining. Tharpe answered with a 3-pointer on the next trip down the floor, and Baylor would not get that close again.

Wiggins finished with 14 points, and forward Perry Ellis had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Kansas (17-5, 8-1 Big 12).

“I felt like everybody was getting after it,” Tharpe said. “Perry was tremendous on the boards, going after the ball.”

Baylor (14-8, 2-7) failed to keep up the momentum from a win at No. 8 Oklahoma State on Saturday. After peaking at No. 7 earlier this season, Baylor has been out of the top 25 the last two weeks and has fallen to ninth in the 10-team Big 12.

However, Baylor coach Scott Drew found a way to stay up beat.

“Round 1 is over in the league,” Drew said. “We’ve got to be a lot better Round 2. The remaining games, I believe we can win every game and, the Big 12 being the way it is, we can lose every game.”

Kansas dominated the boards 46-31 and clamped down on Baylor 3-point-marksman guard Brady Heslip in the second half. Heslip made four 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes but did not score after halftime, ending up with 12 points.

“We really, really guarded the second half,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “This was more about rebounding and defending than anything we did on offense.”

Kansas held Baylor to just six field goals in the second half, and Baylor went 2-of-9 from 3-point range in that period.

“The bad thing is, you can’t beat anyone shooting 29 percent, 23 in the second half,” Drew said.

Forward Cory Jefferson paced the Bears with 14 points.

After Kansas looked lethargic in the first half at Texas on Saturday, the Jayhawks matched Baylor’s game-opening intensity Tuesday.

Tharpe, who scored just three points against the Longhorns, drove the Jayhawks in the first 20 minutes against the Bears. He scored 14 points and dished out three assists before halftime. Tharpe’s 3-pointer with 1:05 left in the half put Kansas ahead by five.

Heslip hit three consecutive 3-pointers midway through the half, igniting an 11-4 Bears run. Jefferson made a jumper to cap the surge that gave Baylor a 24-21 lead with 5:31 left in the half. However, Baylor scored only three more points before the break.

“Defense does travel and it didn’t travel to Austin,” Self said. “We’ve got to grow up and understand on the road it’s not as much about us playing well. It’s about making your opponent play poorly.”

NOTES: Kansas defeated Baylor 78-68 in Lawrence, Kan., on Jan. 20. That completed the Jayhawks’ run of four consecutive wins against ranked opponents, as Baylor was rated No. 24 at the time. That game came in the middle of the Bears’ five-game conference losing streak that dropped Baylor from No. 12 to out of the top 25. … Baylor was the only team that defeated Kansas in both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. The Bears topped the Jayhawks in Waco last season and

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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