WACO, Texas (AP) — Wayne Selden finally starting making shots when No. 12 Kansas needed them most.
Selden made three consecutive baskets in less than two minutes, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer, and the Jayhawks beat No. 21 Baylor 56-55 on Wednesday night to win their 24th consecutive conference opener.
“Wayne didn’t play a lick, in my opinion, until it counted, and then he played great,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He was terrific.”
The Jayhawks (12-2, 1-0 Big 12) overcame a horrendous shooting performance in the first half, and held on through a frantic finish.
Selden was only 1-for-6 shooting before scoring seven points in a row, including the 3-pointer with 2:17 left that put Kansas ahead to stay at 52-49, after his step-back jumper had tied the game only 42 seconds earlier. He added a layup with 1:19 left.
“I was just trying to let the game come to me,” Selden said. “I know we had to step up and make plays, and my team found me.”
Kansas, which hasn’t lost a conference opener since January 1991 while still part of the Big Eight, shot 73 percent (16 of 22) with only three turnovers after halftime. The Jayhawks shot 28 percent (8 of 29) before that, but only trailed 22-18.
“What I told our guys at halftime, I don’t know if we could have played worse offensively,” Self said. “To only be down four was almost like a win.”
Jamari Traylor led Kansas with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting before fouling out with 5:18 left. Brannen Greene had 12 points, including two free throws with 6.3 seconds left, and Frank Mason scored 11. Selden added nine.
When Mason missed a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left, it ended a streak of seven consecutive made field goals by Kansas, which was still ahead by one point.
Kenny Chery, who led Baylor (11-3, 0-2) with 25 points, got the rebound. Royce O’Neale’s shot was blocked by Perry Ellis, and Rico Gathers, who had 14 rebounds, couldn’t tip it in before a wild scramble left Baylor still in possession with 10 seconds left.
“If you make one of the two layups with 10 seconds remaining you’re in a different feeling right now. We didn’t,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “We’ve got to get better at finishing with length and contact, because that’s what the Big 12’s about.”
Kelly Oubre then deflected the inbounds pass by Chery, who had the ball go off his hands and out of bounds with 8.5 seconds left, a play referees reviewed to confirm the call.
Mason missed a free throw with 3 seconds left. Taurean Prince got the rebound, and Chery bobbled the ball before passing to Lester Medford, whose layup went in after the buzzer.
Baylor honored former player Isaiah Austin, the 7-foot-1 post player expected to be a high NBA draft pick as an early entry last summer. But he was diagnosed a week before the draft with a rare genetic disorder that affects the heart and ended his playing career. He is back in school and working with the team as a student assistant. It was also announced Wednesday that Austin’s memoir will be published this summer.
TOO CLOSE TO THE ACTION
Carroll Webb is a longtime Baylor fan whose seat is only a couple of steps off the court. When 6-foot-10 Kansas forward Landen Lucas went after a loose ball in the first half, he tumbled over Webb, knocking the elderly man out of his seat. People rushed to tend to Webb, who got up and gave a thumbs-up. On the next whistle, Lucas went over to check on Webb, who a few minutes later walked to reporters and said, “I’m all right,” and that he expected to be in their stories. Well-earned, Mr. Webb.
Kansas: The Jayhawks made only two of their last 12 shots in the first half. … Kansas’ only lead in the first half was 2-0. … The Jayhawks were the last Big 12 team to play its conference opener. Three teams had already played two Big 12 games before Wednesday night.
Baylor: The Bears were 8 of 15 on 3-pointers, and 10 of 38 inside the arc.
Kansas is home Saturday against Texas Tech.
Baylor travels up I-35 to play at TCU on Saturday.
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