No. 12 Baylor 81, No. 3 Kansas 72

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 09, 2012
Baylor sharpshooter Brady Heslip hit a pair of 3-pointers to keep No. 3 Kansas at bay, and Perry Jones III finished with 18 points as the No. 12 Bears beat the Jayhawks 81-72 on Friday night to reach the Big 12 tournament title game. Quincy Miller added 13 points and eight rebounds, and Pierre Jackson had 11 points and seven assists for the Bears (27-6), who will play No. 5 Missouri or Texas for the championship. Baylor lost to the Tigers in its only previous Big 12 title game. Tyshawn Taylor had 20 points for Kansas (26-6), which used a big second-half charge to briefly take the lead. But the Bears hung tough down the stretch, and Heslip's two 3-pointers - one with 2:03 remaining, the other with 1:12 left - allowed them to hang on. No team from Texas has ever won the Big 12 tournament. Baylor will get another chance. The last time the Jayhawks lost to Baylor was in the quarterfinals of the 2009 conference tournament, when they were also the top seed. Now they'll spend the rest of the weekend waiting for their seeding in the NCAA tournament, where many expected them to receive a No. 1 spot. Thomas Robinson finished with 15 points and nine rebounds for Kansas. Elijah Johnson added 15 points but was 1 of 6 from beyond the arc, while Jeff Withey added 11 points. Baylor took a 15-8 in the opening minutes and, with the exception of a couple flurries by the Jayhawks, managed to hold the advantage all the way to halftime. Jones looked as if he never left the Sprint Center after his epic 31-point outing against Kansas State in the quarterfinals. He had 10 points and five boards by halftime, once going way up for an alley-oop jam off a pass from Pierre Jackson that seemed headed for the cheap seats. Kansas pulled even at 22 when Taylor scored with 8:23 left in the half, but Miller - who also had 10 points at the break - responded with a deep 3-pointer. It was the start of a 14-5 surge by the Bears that A.J. Walton capped with a 3 of his own. Walton, hit with a technical foul in the opening minutes, had eight first-half points. The Jayhawks trailed 43-35 when the teams hit the locker room, and they were fortunate it was that close. Robinson, the Big 12 player of the year, was held to five points and a single lonely rebound in 13 minutes, forced to spend the final five on the bench because of foul trouble. The Bears kept building on the lead in the second half, going ahead 53-40 on Quincy Acy's basket with 16:32 left. Little did they know it would be their last one for a while. Taylor started the Jayhawks on an 18-3 push with an easy basket, and after Acy blew a dunk on the other end, Robinson scored underneath. Kansas started to get into transition, where it's at its best, and Taylor eventually rattled in another 3 to get the Jayhawks within one with 12:52 to go. The senior guard shrugged his shoulders on his way back to defense, the Sprint Center coming alive with the crowd heavily favoring the school about a 30-minute drive from Kansas City. Withey's three-point play and a basket by Robinson gave Kansas a 58-56 lead, its first since midway through the first half - though it was short-lived. Baylor scored the next nine points, four of them coming on Jones' first buckets of the second half, and still led 65-60 on a pair of foul shots by Walton with 6:08 left. Taylor and Robinson managed to get to the foul line for Kansas, but Heslip's 3-pointer with 2:03 left gave Baylor a 70-64 advantage, and his next 3 with 1:12 go made it 73-66.
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