The Kansas Jayhawks used a solid defensive effort and some atrocious outside shooting from the Baylor Bears to win the first Big 12 Tournament semifinal game 62-52 and advance to the tournament finals on Saturday.
The first half was a very sloppy affair with both teams shooting a bad percentage from the field and turning over the ball often en route to a 26-18 halftime score. The main story was Kansas' Perry Ellis playing his first minutes since going down with a knee injury against West Virginia on March 3. Ellis and Baylor's Kenny Chery both had seven points at the break to lead all scorers.
The Bears turned the ball over 10 times and shot an abysmal 20 percent from the field before the half, including a 1-10 mark from 3-point range. The Jayhawks weren't much better, coughing the ball up on nine occasions and shooting 37.9 percent from the field.
After the break, Kansas came out hot. The Jayhawks scored a quick nine points before the first media timeout and looked like they might put Baylor away, but the Bears forced a few more turnovers for breakaway layups and kept the game within reach. KU head coach Bill Self was forced to call a timeout with 14:06 left in the game to stop Baylor's momentum after they pulled the deficit to 35-28.
Both teams traded shots for a few minutes with the lead getting cut to as close as four points, but Kansas always managed to keep Baylor an arm's length away. The Jayhawks went on a mini 6-1 run following another Bill Self timeout with 11:11 left in the game and the lead was 11 points with under eight minutes left. During the run, Ellis banged knees with Baylor's Lester Medford on a screen and appeared to tweak his injured right knee. The junior immediately went to the bench and received attention from KU's trainers. In an interview following the game, Ellis said his quad was hit on the play, but he should be fine.
Having Ellis on the bench didn't phase Kansas at all. A layup by Frank Mason III, a jumper by Wayne Selden, and yet another Mason layup extended the KU lead to 15 points. Johnathan Motley made a layup for Baylor just before the final media timeout to give the Bears their first field goal in over six minutes of game time.
In the end, Kansas did what they needed to do to close out the victory. Baylor attempted to use some full court pressure to speed up the Jayhawks, but KU handled it well and led until the final buzzer.
Selden and Chery led all scorers with 20 points each. Selden was very efficient 7-9 from the field and hauled in eight rebounds. Baylor's star junior Rico Gathers recorded a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. As a team, the Bears finished the game 4-22 from the 3-point line, good for only 18.2 percent.