By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Even on a day and a year when the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks looked ripe for the taking, they still found a way to pull one out in the final seconds.
Landen Lucas hit a pair of free throws with 11.5 seconds left after rebounding a missed 3-pointer by Devonte Graham, then Baylor's Manu Lecomte was off target on a potential tying shot at the buzzer as the Jayhawks escaped the Ferrell Center with a 67-65 win before a season-high crowd of 10,021 Saturday afternoon.
"They made one more play than we did," said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team fell to 22-5 overall and 9-5 in the Big 12 with its 10th straight loss to Kansas (24-3, 12-2). "The last three close games with Kansas, Lucas has come up with the big rebound in the last three minutes, and we haven't been able to keep him off the glass when we needed to.
"I thought our guys really competed, put ourselves in position to win, and we fully expected to win. Another Big 12 game, comes down to one possession."
Kansas, which has won 12 consecutive conference championships, now has a three-game lead on Baylor, West Virginia and Iowa State with four games to play.
"We put ourselves in a great position, up three with four to play," KU coach Bill Self said. "We're not going to take it for granted, but certainly with a different outcome, you're up one with four to play. So, I'm really proud of our guys and how hard they compete."
The fourth-ranked Bears seemed poised to knock off the Jayhawks and tighten the race, going up by 12 in the first half and still leading by six with 3 ½ minutes to play. But, they had back-to-back turnovers and missed their last four shots from the field, scoring just two points in the last four-plus minutes.
"It definitely hurts," sophomore guard Jake Lindsey said. "It comes down to execution in late-game situations, and they did a better job of that. . . . Kansas is traditionally a good defensive team, but I think we got some looks we wanted. I remember Jo (Lual-Acuil) getting one at the rim, and we didn't get the rebound. And then our last play, we didn't execute the play we needed to."
After Lucas' free throws gave Kansas the lead, Lindsey sprinted the ball up the court and called a timeout with 8.6 seconds left to set up the final play.
"There was no way we could get it," said Motley, who finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists, but also had six of Baylor's 16 turnovers.
Lual-Acuil took the out-of-bounds pass from Wainright and quickly dished off to Lecomte, who drove past the right elbow and forced up a shot over Jackson that glanced off the rim as the final seconds ticked off.
"We were trying to get it to Motley," Drew said. "When they took that away, we wish we could have gotten a better look and a better shot in the last six or seven seconds. But, they deserve credit on taking away J-Mot down low."
Baylor controlled the game for most of the first half, going up 35-23 on a Lecomte floater in the lane with 55 seconds left. But the Jayhawks, who had gone 1-for-8 from outside the arc, drained two in the last 38 seconds to make it a six-point game, 35-29.
"The two biggest possessions of the game, other than the last one, were the two 3's we made to end the half to take it from 12 to 6," Self said of the 3-pointers by Frank Mason III and Jackson. "If it's at 12, they have total control and momentum. But, we kind of got a little bit of that back with those two plays."
The Jayhawks reeled off 11 unanswered points midway through the second half, starting it with a three-point play by Mason and capped by a trey from Svi Mykhailuk that gave Kansas a 52-47 lead with 10:18 left in the game.
Baylor answered back with a 9-0 run of its own, tying it on a Wainright 3-pointer, going up on a Lecomte fast-break bucket and extending the lead to 56-52 on a pair of free throws by Lual-Acuil.
The Bears twice got it to a six-point lead, the first coming on a Motley jumper with 4:18 left and then a pair of King McClure free throws at the 3:34 mark left. But, those were the last points they scored.
"It's real disappointing, especially when you kind of have them on the ropes," Motley said. "Coach Drew stressed that offensive rebounds were their strength in this type of situation. We didn't put a body on him, and he knocked down both free throws. We talked about it in film, but it's one of those things where youv'e got to go out and execute and make sure we get that rebound."
Mason led all scorers with 23 points and eight assists, while Lecomte and Lual-Acuil had 16 and 11 points, respectively, for the Bears.
Baylor will try to bounce back with a game against last-place Oklahoma (9-16, 3-10) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Ferrell Center. The Sooners pulled out a 70-66 win at home over Texas on Tuesday and were playing at Oklahoma State late Saturday.