WACO, Texas -- Baylor withstood a furious second-half Kansas rally to defeat the No. 6 Jayhawks here Monday night 85-77 before a national ESPN2 audience. It marks the highest-ranked opponent the Bears have defeated since Feb. 10, 1990 when the Bears up-ended then-No. 3 Arkansas 82-77.
With the victory, Baylor improves to 16-6 on the season and 5-6 in Big 12 Conference play. Kansas, meanwhile, falls to 19-4 and 8-3. After defeating Nebraska 69-58 Saturday, Baylor has defeated consecutive Big 12 opponents for the first time since knocking off Texas and Iowa State in February 1998.
"We've had out ups and downs, but there's no doubt the opponent creates excitement in our fans and in our players," second-year Baylor head coach Dave Bliss said. "We fed off our two seniors, Terry (Black) and DeMarcus (Minor) played exceptionally well.
"It makes for a great day for Baylor. This isn't going to change the face of mankind, but it does give this team some incentive for the rest of the season. We've had a lot of down moments this season, but this should give us a new-found energy."
Black and Wendell Greenleaf led the Baylor charge, scoring 20 points each. Black was 8-of-10 from the field, including six of Baylor's 10 dunks on the night, and Greenleaf hit a team-high three 3-pointers. The Bears hit seven shots from long range on the night and improve to 15-1 on the season when making at least six. Minor added 15 points for the Bears, who got at least five points from eight different players.
At no point, from the tip to the buzzer, did Baylor shoot below 50 percent from the field. The Bears finished 28-of-54 (51.9 percent) from the floor on the night.
"We didn't need motivation, we were playing Kansas," Minor said. "That's motivation enough. This is going to rank No. 1 on my list of wins."
Kansas went on a 21-4 run midway through the second half, whittling a 58-37 Baylor lead down to four points at the 5:54 mark. Hinrich drained a 3-pointer to cap an 11-0 run at the end of that stretch.
From there, it was a battle with both teams trading bucket for bucket over the next two and a half minutes. Then, Greenleaf nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner to put Baylor up 72-64 with 3:11 to play. The Bears quickly built their lead back out to double-figures, leading by 10 as late as the 1:27 mark. Although Kansas got within four points twice in the game's final 31 seconds, the Bears never lost control of the game.
"They made some terrific shots down the stretch," Bliss said. "You knew they were going to make a run. But I called a time out and said to the players, 'If I had told you before the game that you'd be up six points with four minutes to play, you would have been grateful. Now go out there and play hard.'"
The Bears came out with fire in the first half and that flame never burned out. Baylor scored 10 points before the Jayhawks scored a point. That came at the 16:31 mark when Kirk Hinrich made the first of two attempts from the charity stripe. Kansas quickly cut the lead to six points, 10-4, on a 3-pointer by Jeff Boschee, but the Jayhawks never got any closer in the first half.
Baylor worked its lead back out to double-digits and led 23-6 with 12:11 to play in the half. The Bears continued to build their lead and when Terry Black dunked over two Jayhawks on a fastbreak at the 6:40 mark, the Baylor advantage hit 20 points for the first time of the night at 34-14. Save two occasions, the Bears kept their lead at or above 20 for the remainder of the half, capped by another Black dunk with four seconds to play that gave BU a 47-22 lead going into the lockerroom.
The 25-point halftime deficit for Kansas is the largest of the Roy Williams' era. Baylor's 47 first-half points are the most in a half against a Big 12 opponent during the Dave Bliss era.
Baylor shot 55.9 percent (19-for-34) from the field in the first half while holding Kansas to 29 percent on 9-of-31 shooting. The Bears dished out 12 assists with only six turnovers in the first as opposed to four and 11, respectively, for Kansas.
The Bears had three players with at least 10 points in the first half, led by Greenleaf's 12, Black added 11 and Minor had 10. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks' offensive leader in the first half was Hinrich with eight points, no other KU player had more than five.
"Wendell is boredom mixed with moments of sheer terror," Bliss said. "But I do know something is going to happen. Most of the time he's leaning toward our side, but sometimes I have to call time out to make sure he's on our side."
Baylor will have just five days to savor the victory, the Bears travel to Norman, Okla., Saturday for a 3 p.m. showdown with No. 14 Oklahoma. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN-plus as part of the Big 12 Conference television package and can be seen locally on KCEN-TV, channel 6 over the air and channel 3 on Waco's Time Warner Cable.