University of Kansas

Kansas rallies past Baylor, closes in on 13th straight Big 12 title

Kansas guard Frank Mason chases a rebound during the first half Saturday in Waco, Texas.
Kansas guard Frank Mason chases a rebound during the first half Saturday in Waco, Texas. Associated Press

Kansas center Landen Lucas talks to reporters following KU's 67-65 victory over Baylor on February 18, 2017. Lucas made two free throws with 11.5 seconds to go to provide the winning margin.

Kansas never seems to be too far behind to rally for victories.

After another comeback win against a fellow top-10 team, the No. 3 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.

Saturday’s box score

“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, who led KU 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.

Kansas coach Bill Self talks about his team's mental toughness following a 67-65 victory over Baylor on February 18, 2017.

“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.

Kansas guards Frank Mason and Josh Jackson discuss the contributions of teammate Landen Lucas following the Jayhawks' 67-65 victory over Baylor on Feb. 18, 2017.

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.”

KU beat reporter Jesse Newell recapped the Jayhawks' road victory over Baylor on Feb. 18, 2017, on Facebook Live.

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