Saturday’s Top 25: Kansas rallies, beats Baylor
Waco, Texas — No. 3 Kansas never seems to be too far behind to rally for victories.
After another comeback win against a fellow Top 10 team, the Jayhawks are probably too far ahead in the standings for anyone to keep them from claiming their 13th consecutive Big 12 title.
Landen Lucas made two free throws with 11 seconds left, and Kansas didn’t allow No. 4 Baylor to get the ball to Johnathan Motley on the last possession, as the Jayhawks grabbed a stranglehold on the Big 12 race with a 67-65 victory Saturday.
“As far as a mental toughness team, I would take this team and go to the house and let it ride however it goes,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
Five days after overcoming a 14-point deficit in the final 2:43 of regulation and then winning in overtime at home against No. 9 West Virginia, the Jayhawks only had to come back from six points down in the final 3 1/2 minutes this time.
“We were down by more than that last game,” said Frank Mason III, who led Kansas with 23 points. “We just showed toughness and leadership as far as the older guys and I think the younger guys did a great job of following.”
The Jayhawks (24-3, 12-2) have a three-game lead over Baylor and West Virginia in the Big 12 standings with four games to play. With one more win, Kansas will match the UCLA teams of the 1960s and ‘70s by winning 13 consecutive conference championships, though Self still isn’t ready to talk about that.
“Well, we put ourselves in a great position,” Self said. “We’re not going to take it for granted. … Certainly with a different outcome, you’re up one (game) with four to play, so I’m really proud of our guys, and how hard they compete.”
Lucas was fouled after his offensive rebound of Devonte Graham’s miss.
Baylor (22-5, 9-5) had one more chance, but after being unable to get the ball inside, Manu Lecomte missed on a defended last-ditch shot .
“There was no way we could get it,” said Motley, who was surrounded by Lucas and Josh Jackson.
Motley had 19 points for Baylor, which has lost four of its last six games. Lecomte had 16 and Jo Lual-Acuil 11.
The Bears led 65-59 after King McClure made two free throws with 3:34 left. But they didn’t score again.
Jackson, who had 16 points, then had a layup and a one-handed windmill slam. Graham’s two free throws with 2:16 tied the game, and were the last points before Lucas, who had missed his only two attempts earlier in the game, went to the line.
“I actually was very confident. I thought he’d make them. I did,” Self said. “I think he was confident too. … I’m not even sure they were close early, but these were pure and I don’t think there was much doubt.”
(At) No. 1 Gonzaga 82, Pacific 61: Nigel Williams-Goss had 18 points and seven assists as No. 1 Gonzaga remained the only undefeated team in Division I. Johnathan Williams had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and five players scored in double figures for Gonzaga (28-0, 16-0 West Coast), whose 28-game winning streak is the longest in the nation.
Jack Williams scored 16 points for Pacific (10-19, 4-12), which played Gonzaga tough at home on New Year’s Eve. Pacific played without second-leading scorer T.J. Wallace, out with a foot injury.
No. 2 Villanova 92, (at) Seton Hall 70: Jalen Brunson had 22 points and a career-high 10 assists and Villanova clinched a tie for an unprecedented fourth straight Big East Conference regular-season title.
The Wildcats (26-2, 13-2) used a 22-1 spurt bridging the halves to take command in winning their seventh straight game and handing Seton Hall (16-10, 6-8) a lopsided loss that leaves it on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
Kris Jenkins added 22 points for Villanova, which shot a season-high 67 percent from the field. Brunson hit all seven of his shots.
Khadeen Carrington led the Pirates with 22 points.
No. 5 Arizona 76, (at) Washington 68: Lauri Markkanen had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Allonzo Trier added 21 points and Arizona held off Washington.
Arizona (25-3, 14-1 Pac-12) remained on top of the conference standings and won its fourth straight. The Wildcats did it short-handed, with starters Dusan Ristic and Kadeem Allen out because of injuries.
Markelle Fultz scored 26 points for the Huskies (9-18, 2-13).
(At) No. 6 UCLA 102, Southern California 70: Bryce Alford scored 26 points, including 10 straight in the second half, and No. 6 UCLA beat Southern California to snap a four-game skid against its crosstown rival.
Playing their first game in six days, the Bruins (22-5, 9-5 Pac-12) avenged an 84-76 loss at USC last month. TJ Leaf added 19 points, and Thomas Welsh had 16 points and a career high-tying 16 rebounds.
Bennie Boatwright had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Trojans (21-6, 8-6).
(At) No. 7 Oregon 101, Colorado 73: Dillon Brooks scored 23 points for Oregon.
Dylan Ennis added 20 points for the Ducks (24-4, 13-2 Pac-12), who won their 42nd straight home game. It is the longest active home winning streak in the nation.
George King led Colorado (16-12, 6-9) with 16 points in the loss, which snapped a three-game winning streak. The Buffaloes trailed by as many as 36 points late in the second half.
(At) No. 8 Louisville 94, Virginia Tech 90: Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points to lead Louisville.
Ty Outlaw hit a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left to cut Louisville’s lead to 91-88, but the Hokies’ Zach LeDay committed an intentional foul on Louisville as the Cardinals (22-5, 10-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) tried to inbound the ball. Jaylen Johnson made one of the two free throws, then Mitchell made two more with 5.6 seconds left to seal the offensive slugfest.
Seth Allen had 25 points for Virginia Tech (18-8, 7-7), which shot 59.2 percent from the field, including 65.4 percent (17 of 26) from beyond the 3-point arc. The Cardinals shot 51.5 percent, including making 12 of 22 from beyond the arc.
(At) No. 9 West Virginia 83, Texas Tech 74, 2 OT: Jevon Carter scored a season-high 24 points to lead West Virginia.
West Virginia (21-6, 9-5 Big 12) let a late lead slip away and was forced to play overtime for the second straight game.
Carter scored a quick layup in the second overtime and West Virginia outscored Texas Tech 13-4 in the period.
Elijah Macon added a season-high 17 points for West Virginia.
Keenan Evans tied a career high with 28 points for Texas Tech (17-10, 5-9).
(At) No. 10 North Carolina 65, No. 14 Virginia 41: Justin Jackson scored 20 points to help North Carolina beat Virginia, keeping the Tar Heels alone in first in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Kennedy Meeks had all of his 13 points and seven rebounds after halftime for the Tar Heels (23-5, 11-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). They shot 47 percent and led by double figures nearly all night.
Marial Shayok scored 13 points to lead Virginia (18-8, 8-6).
(At) No. 12 Duke 99, Wake Forest 94: Luke Kennard scored 23 points and Jayson Tatum added 19 for Duke.
Amile Jefferson had 16 points for the Blue Devils (22-5, 10-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 59 percent and hit 13 3-pointers while winning their seventh straight.
John Collins had a career-best 31 points and 15 rebounds for the Demon Deacons (15-12, 6-9), who have lost three of four.
No. 13 Kentucky 82, (at) Georgia 77: De’Aaron Fox scored 16 points, including six free throws in the final 45 seconds, and Kentucky overcame J.J. Frazier’s 36 points to beat Georgia.
Frazier’s season-high effort helped keep Georgia close after the Bulldogs lost top scorer Yante Maten with a right knee injury less than two minutes into the game.
Malik Monk also had 16 for Kentucky (22-5, 12-2 Southeastern Conference). The Wildcats began the night tied with South Carolina for the SEC lead.
No. 15 Florida 57, (at) Mississippi State 52: Chris Chiozza scored 14 points and KeVaughn Allen added 11 for Florida.
Florida (22-5, 12-2 Southeastern Conference) extended its winning streak to eight games, which is the longest under second-year coach Mike White. The Gators also won their first game since starting center John Egbunu suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Quinndary Weatherspoon led Mississippi State (14-12, 5-9) with 17 points.
(At) Pittsburgh 80, No. 17 Florida State 66: Senior Sheldon Jeter scored a career-high 29 points for Pittsburgh.
Jeter, who averages 7.6 points per game, had eight rebounds. Four of his 12 field goals were 3-pointers as the 6-foot-8 forward showed his range.
Pitt (15-12, 4-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) was 10 of 22 from beyond the arc.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 12 points for Florida State (21-6, 9-5).
(At) No. 18 Cincinnati 80, Tulsa 60: Jacob Evans III scored 13 of his 17 points while Cincinnati took control in the first half.
Cincinnati (24-3, 13-1 American Athletic) has won 24 straight on its home court.
Kyle Washington added 18 points for Cincinnati while Gary Clark had 14 points and eight rebounds.
The win was the 300th for Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin.
Junior Etou scored 22 points for Tulsa (12-14, 6-8), which has lost a season-high six in a row.
No. 19 SMU 76, Houston 66: Semi Ojeleye had 18 of his 22 points in the second half for SMU.
Ojeleye also had nine rebounds, Ben Moore added 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Sterling Brown had 16 points. The Mustangs (24-4, 14-1 American) have won 10 straight.
Rob Gray Jr. had 23 points to lead Houston (18-8, 9-5).
(At) Vanderbilt 71, No. 21 South Carolina 62: Matthew Fisher-Davis scored 17 points and Riley LaChance had 14 to help Vanderbilt beat South Carolina.
The lead changed hands nine times during a frantic second half before the Commodores (14-13, 7-7 Southeastern Conference took the lead for good at 55-54 on Fisher-Davis’ free throw with 7:54 left.
The Commodores led by a point with 4:27 left, and used a 7-0 surge to pull away.
Sindarius Thornwell led the slumping Gamecocks (20-7, 10-4) with 21 points and had six rebounds.
No. 22 Saint Mary’s 70, (at) BYU 57: Calvin Hermanson scored 17 points and Saint Mary routed BYU.
With two games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Gaels (24-3, 14-2) clinched a second-place finish in the West Coast Conference behind top-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga.
Evan Fitzner scored 11 of his 15 points for Saint Mary’s in the second half. EricMika had 18 points for BYU (19-10, 10-6).
No. 25 Notre Dame 81, (at) N.C. State 72: V.J. Beachem scored 27 points and hit a career-high seven 3-pointers for Notre Dame in North Carolina State’s first game since the announcement that coach Mark Gottfried is out after the season.
Bonzie Colson added 13 points for the Fighting Irish (21-7, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who kept themselves in the middle of a crowded race for a top-four finish that would secure a double-round bye in the ACC Tournament.
Dennis Smith Jr. scored 16 points for N.C. State (14-14, 3-12), which lost its seventh straight.