LAWRENCE — Andrew Wiggins scored 17 points, most of them coming at the free throw line, and No. 8 Kansas pulled away in the second half to beat No. 24 Baylor 78-68 on Monday night.
Wiggins was 10 of 12 from the free throw line, and the Jayhawks (14-4, 5-0 Big 12) were 27 of 29 as a team, allowing them to put away Baylor for their fifth straight win — the last four over Top 25 opponents. They are the first team to accomplish that feat since North Carolina in 1997.
Perry Ellis added 19 points and Joel Embiid had 12 for Kansas, which led 37-35 at halftime but used a 14-2 surge fueled by defense and hustle in the second half to draw away.
Brady Heslip hit six 3-pointers and scored 19 points for the Bears (13-5, 1-4), who have lost three straight and four of five. Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin added 16 points apiece.
The teams combined for 16 turnovers in a disjointed first half that included 12 lead changes but virtually no rhythm. The Jayhawks managed to squeeze out the two-point halftime lead, but they had to shoot 60 percent from the field to do it.
That’s because Baylor was scorching from beyond the arc.
Heslip hit all four of his 3-point tries and the 7-foot Austin added two — he was 0 for 4 from inside the arc. Along with the two 3-pointers that Jefferson hit, the Bears knocked down 8 of 10 beyond the perimeter in the first half. They were 4 of 18 everywhere else.
The game remained close until Ellis scored inside with 12:48 remaining to start the Jayhawks on their game-defining run, and then came the two biggest highlights of the game.
The first came when Ellis stepped in front of a pass and took off toward the other end of the court, dunking the ball home while getting fouled. Naturally, he made the free throw.
The second highlight came moments later, when Kansas lost control of the ball under the Baylor basket. Freshman guard Wayne Selden tracked it down and saved it to Embiid as he crashed over a fan seated at a courtside table and wound up in the laps of two more fans wearing Bears clothing.
Everybody’s eyes immediately turned to Embiid — including the officials — and the 7-foot freshman converted the basket. The only people who seemed to notice that Selden’s foot was out of bounds were the folks who were able to catch the replay on television.
Bears coach Scott Drew burned a timeout as the game was starting to get away from them, but the Jayhawks kept on charging. Naadir Tharpe’s 3-pointer made it 60-46 with 8:16 remaining.
From there, it was a matter of Kansas maintaining its lead.
Austin hit a 3-pointer to get Baylor within 61-51 with just over 6 minutes left, but Wiggins made four straight from the free throw line. Heslip hit another 3-pointer with 3:45 to go, but Wiggins scored on a scooping layup to keep the cushion comfortable.
Just about the only thing that went wrong toward the end of the game for Kansas happened when reserve forward Tarik Black hurt his lower leg. He appeared to get rolled into by the Bears’ Rico Gathers, and Black needed considerable help to make it off the court.
Big 12 Conference
No. 8 Kansas 78, No. 24 Baylor 68
O’Neale 3-7 1-2 8, Chery 1-8 1-2 3, Austin 6-15 0-3 16, Jefferson 6-10 2-4 16, Prince 0-3 0-0 0, Gathers 1-4 4-7 6, Franklin 0-2 0-0 0, Heslip 6-10 1-2 19, Wainright 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-59 9-20 68.
Selden, Jr. 1-5 4-4 7, Tharpe 2-3 0-0 6, Embiid 4-7 4-4 12, Wiggins 3-7 10-12 17, Ellis 6-8 6-7 18, Mason 4-5 0-0 9, Greene 1-2 0-0 3, Frankamp 0-0 0-0 0, Black 1-2 0-0 2, Traylor 1-1 2-2 4. Totals 23-40 26-29 78.
Halftime—Kansas 37-35. Three-point goals—Baylor 13-27 (Heslip 6-9, Austin 4-8, Jefferson 2-2, O'Neale 1-3, Franklin 0-2, Chery 0-3), Kansas 6-15 (Tharpe 2-3, Greene 1-2, Mason 1-2, Selden, Jr. 1-3, Wiggins 1-4, Ellis 0-1). Fouled out—Wainright. Rebounds—Baylor 31 (Gathers 7), Kansas 29 (Wiggins 7). Assists—Baylor 15 (Chery 8), Kansas 12 (Mason 6). Total fouls—Baylor 25, Kansas 15.