WACO, TX - JANUARY 17:  Head coach Scott Drew of the Baylor Bears in the first half at Ferrell Center on January 17, 2017 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Motley leads No. 5 Baylor again in 65-61 win over Texas Tech

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WACO, Texas (AP) Johnathan Motley scored 25 points and No. 5 Baylor held on to beat Texas Tech 65-61 on Wednesday night for the Bears’ 13th straight home victory.

A week after getting a career-high 32 points against Texas, Motley was 15 of 16 on free throws as the Bears (19-1, 7-1 Big 12) pulled even with second-ranked Kansas atop the Big 12 standings with a 26-9 advantage at the free throw line. Baylor attempted 28 free throws to 10 for the Red Raiders.

A night after three of the top four teams in the Top 25 lost, the Bears won their fourth straight since their only loss right after reaching No. 1 for the first time in school history.

Justin Gray scored 12 points for the Red Raiders (14-6, 3-5), who dropped to 2-2 against ranked teams in Big 12 play. It was their second straight loss after a 17-game home winning streak ended with Oklahoma State’s first conference win following six losses.

The Red Raiders had a chance to tie or go ahead trailing 63-61 in the final seconds, but Ishmail Wainright blocked a deep 3-point try by Keenan Evans. The Bears started celebrating a win, but the whistle blew with 0.5 seconds left.

After a discussion, officials ruled a jump ball on an inadvertent whistle, awarding Baylor possession. Niem Stephenson fouled Baylor’s Al Freeman before the ball was thrown in, and Freeman made both free throws to clinch the win.

Motley was 5 of 12 from the field to help Baylor overcome season lows of 17 field goals and 35 percent shooting. The 6-foot-10 forward also had a big block on Evans with Texas Tech trailing 56-54 with 2:52 remaining. Manu Lecomte hit a 3-pointer at the other end.

The Bears shot 16 free throws in the first half before the Red Raiders attempted their first, but Texas Tech trailed by just one by limiting Baylor to just seven field goals and 32 percent shooting before halftime.

The Red Raiders recovered from a 12-2 deficit to take their first lead on their first free throws, two from Aaron Ross for a 29-28 edge with 1:24 remaining in the first half.

BIG PICTURE

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders bounced back from their worst game by showing that their two wins in three games against ranked teams in Big 12 play weren’t a fluke. They’re unlikely to be an easy win in conference.

Baylor: After getting blown out at West Virginia immediately after surging to the top of the AP poll, the Bears have shown some staying power by getting another winning streak going.

UP NEXT

Texas Tech: After hosting LSU in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday, the Red Raiders visit Texas next Wednesday.

Baylor: After a Big 12/SEC trip to Mississippi, the Bears play at Kansas for the Big 12 lead next Wednesday.

Corrects previous version with Baylor awarded possession instead of jump ball at midcourt.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

No. 20 Baylor rallies to beat VCU

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Johnathan Motley #5 of the Baylor Bears looks on in the second half against the Yale Bulldogs during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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No. 20 Baylor found itself down by eight points at halftime in its opening-round game against VCU in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday afternoon. But the Bears clamped down on defense and used their length and athleticism in a 71-63 comeback win.

The Bears (4-0) were down 36-28 at the half but still advanced thanks to a balanced effort on both ends of the floor along with a big second half from junior forward Jonathan Motley. Getting comfortable in the second half, Motley finished with a double-double as he had 19 points and 10 rebounds on the afternoon — including five offensive rebounds. Guards Manu Lecomte (16 points) and Al Freeman (15 points) both also finished in double-figures.

Finishing with 13 offensive rebounds, Baylor’s perimeter shooting struggled but they made up for it by cleaning up on the glass. Baylor only shot 2-for-9 from three-point range but they adjusted their offense to attack the rim against VCU as Lecomte and Freeman both did damage off the bounce. The attacking style also paid off for Baylor at the free-throw line as they finished 27-for-33 from the charity stripe.

VCU (3-1) was led by JeQuan Lewis as he finished with 21 points, including an impressive 5-for-10 from three-point range. Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed finished with 13 points while Jonathan Williams chipped in 12 points.

This is another solid early win for the Bears, as they’ve certainly looked like a top-25 caliber team early in the season. After the win against Oregon, this tournament is a nice chance for Baylor to make another early-season statement as they try to become a factor in a Big 12 race that looks on paper like a one-team (Kansas) race.

Baylor moves on to face the winner of Michigan and St. John’s in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

No. 12 Yale picks up first-ever NCAA tournament victory

Yale forward Justin Sears (22)  dunks against Baylor during the first half in the first round of the NCAA college men's basketball tournament in Providence, R.I., Thursday, March 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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West region No. 5 Baylor entered the NCAA tournament looking to erase the memory of last season’s early NCAA tournament exit, with a veteran group having designs on playing deep into this season’s event. Unfortunately for Scott Drew’s Bears they drew ran into Ivy League champion No. 12 Yale, and throughout most of the contest James Jones’ Bulldogs outplayed Baylor.

And despite some nerve-wracking moments late the Bulldogs pulled out the 79-75 victory, picking up the first NCAA tournament win in program history.

Makai Mason was the star for the Bulldogs, scoring 31 points (a school NCAA tournament record) as he managed to go just about wherever he wanted against the Baylor defense. Baylor’s standard matchup zone was no match for what Yale threw at them offensively, as the Bulldogs were able get through for quality looks inside the arc. The game reached a point to where Baylor had to come out of the zone and play man, and that didn’t work all that well either.

Normally in upsets the underdog gets hot from three, but that wasn’t the case in Providence. Yale shot 5-for-16 from three but made 63.6 percent of their two-point attempts. And to be fair to the Bulldogs, they looked nothing like an underdog for most of this game.

There were moments of frustration for Baylor, most notably an argument between Rico Gathers Sr. and Taurean Prince (28 points) during a second half timeout, and Yale had a lot to do with that. The Bears made a late run thanks in large part to Prince, and defensively they forced turnovers with full-court pressure to close the gap to one in the game’s final minute.

But they were unable to get any closer than that, and down two with 6.8 seconds remaining a Lester Medford turnover resulted in Baylor not getting off a shot to either tie the game or take the lead.

Baylor’s ability to control the glass has been key for them throughout the season, and they did managed to grab 14 offensive rebounds Thursday. But Yale is a good rebounding team in its own right, as they entered the game ranked in the top ten nationally in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Thanks to the presence of players such as Justin Sears, Nick Victor, Sam Downey and Brandon Sherrod (in total seven Bulldogs average at least 2.5 rebounds per game), won the battle on the boards Thursday afternoon. Add in Yale’s superior offensive execution, and Jones’ Bulldogs were able to advance.

Next up for Yale is No. 4 Duke, which beat No. 13 UNCW in the first game of the day in Providence.

No. 1 Kansas beats No. 22 Baylor 70-66 in Big 12 semifinals

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and forward Jamari Traylor, back, celebrate a dunk by Wayne Selden Jr. (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor in the semifinals of the Big 12 conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, March 11, 2016. Kansas defeated Baylor 70-66. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Kansas coach Bill Self said the final couple minutes of Friday night’s Big 12 semifinal against Baylor didn’t take anything away from his team’s impressive second-half performance.

Even if it almost took away a win.

After overcoming a halftime deficit to build a comfortable lead, Self put in his backups to coax the game to its conclusion. But the No. 22 Bears rallied, forcing the Kansas starters back onto the floor, where they finally managed to finish off a 70-66 victory.

“I had one guy ask me yesterday, `Hey, when you get a lead in the last two minutes, why don’t you play your bench?”‘ Self said. “And I did. And it didn’t work out so great.”

Al Freeman’s 3-pointer got Baylor within 68-64 with 20 seconds left, and that was when Self sent his top players back on the floor. Jonathan Motley’s putback then got the Bears within three with five seconds to go, but Devonte Graham calmly made the second of two free throws at the other end to put the game away.

Graham had 14 points and eight assists as the Jayhawks (29-4) beat the Bears (22-11) for the third time this season – and avenged their tournament loss from a year ago. Perry Ellis scored 20 points.

Kansas will play sixth-ranked Oklahoma or No. 9 West Virginia for the title Saturday night.

“Proud that our guys didn’t quit at the end,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Kansas really executed well in the second half. I told coach Self, they guard so well.”

Freeman scored 14 points and Rico Gathers had 13 points and nine boards, but nobody in green got into much of a rhythm against the Jayhawks’ man-to-man defense. Taurean Prince was held to nine points, going 0 for 6 from beyond the arc, and Ish Wainwright managed four points on 2-for-9 shooting before fouling out.

The victory was the 13th straight for Kansas, which can match the number of tournament titles won by every other Big 12 school with its 10th. The Jayhawks also improved to 3-0 at the Sprint Center this season with their eighth consecutive win over the Bears.

Not that they didn’t have a chance: Baylor forged a 23-21 lead after a sloppy first half.

The teams combined for 17 turnovers, Kansas at one point throwing it away on four straight possessions. Baylor’s Lester Medford tossed a pass to nobody at one end of the floor, and then Ellis launched an air ball from beyond the arc as the teams went into a deep offensive funk.

For a while, it seemed as if nobody wanted to score.

There were only two real highlights: Graham had five assists for Kansas, including back-to-back alley-oop lobs to Ellis, and Jake Lindsey hit a buzzer-beating 3 to give the Bears the halftime edge.

Kansas began to take control as soon as it left the locker room.

Ellis went on a personal 8-0 run, and Wayne Selden Jr. woke up a sleepy crowd with a soaring dunk. A few minutes later, Graham tossed up a lob from just inside midcourt that Selden threw down for a 43-33 lead.

“We knew we were playing flat, kind of dead, not a lot of energy,” Graham said. “We knew we weren’t playing to our capability. … In the second half we tried to change it.”

Baylor began trying to get the ball to Gathers and Prince in the paint, but the Jayhawks did a good job of collapsing on defense. The Bears missed nine consecutive shots during a critical stretch midway through the second half, and that allowed the Jayhawks to establish a comfortable lead.

They wound up needing just about every point of it.

“We know the game is never over with us,” Freeman said. “We all have confidence in each other. Nobody has quit in them. We’re going to play every possession hard until it’s the last one in the game.”

QUOTABLE

Asked whether having to put the starters back in late in the game is a coach’s worst nightmare, Self replied: “No, the worst nightmare would be losing. This was just a bad dream.”

TIP-INS

Baylor: Motley finished with 11 points and seven rebounds. … The Bears were playing in their third straight semifinal. They still have never won the Big 12 Tournament.

Kansas: Carlton Bragg had 10 points and seven rebounds. He had a career-high 12 points in a quarterfinal win over Kansas State. … Frank Mason III had nine points and six rebounds.

UP NEXT

Baylor heads back to Waco, Texas.

Kansas plays for its first title since 2013.

POSTERIZED: Wayne Selden Jr. throws down vicious dunk on Baylor defender

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) celebrates at a timeout during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. Seldon scored 24 points in the game. Kansas defeated Baylor 102-74. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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Like his teammates, Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. got off to a slow start in the first half of his team’s Big 12 tournament semifinal against Baylor. But the Jayhawks got going in the second half, and Selden’s dunk on Baylor’s Ishmail Wainwright proved to be the highlight of the game.

Wainwright had good intentions when he attempted to rotate over to get between Selden and the basket in the second half of their Big 12 semifinal matchup. Unfortunately for Wainwright things did not work out as he likely envisioned, as his rotation was a bit late and Selden took flight for a powerful one-handed dunk.

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And to add insult to “injury,” Wainwright fouled out on the play. And the reaction that Selden’s uncle had to the dunk was priceless.

Vine credit: The Cauldron

No. 22 Baylor beats No. 23 Texas 75-61 in Big 12 tournament

Baylor guard Ishmail Wainright (24) saves the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, March 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Scott Drew thought his team was playing well entering the Big 12 tournament, but the conference was so challenging this year that Baylor kept coming out on the losing end.

The Bears finally got rewarded for their solid play Thursday.

Taurean Prince had 24 points and 13 rebounds, Rico Gathers added 13 points and No. 22 Baylor’s baffling zone defense shut down No. 23 Texas in a 75-61 victory in the tournament quarterfinals.

“That’s the tough thing in the Big 12. When you’re playing great teams, you can be playing good basketball and not get the win,” Drew said. “I think we were playing decent. We just weren’t winning.”

They picked a fine time to change that narrative.

The fifth-seeded Bears (22-10) opened a 15-point lead in the first half, then used Drew’s trademark defense to keep the fourth-seeded Longhorns (20-12) from coming back. The reward is a date in the semifinals against top-ranked Kansas or Kansas State on Friday night.

“We just wanted to come out with energy, flying around, give good ball pressure,” said Al Freeman, who scored 12 for the Bears. “We wanted to limit them on second-chance points as much as possible.”

They did that by out-rebounding the Longhorns 46-27.

Connor Lammert had 15 points, Kerwin Roach had 13 and Shaquille Cleare had 12 for Texas, but the bigger story was who got shut down: All-Big 12 guard Isaiah Taylor scored just eight, all in the second half.

“We always come out sluggish, come out slowly, and we have to battle back,” said Taylor, who did have nine assists. “We weren’t able to battle back.”

The Longhorns have lost four straight to Baylor in the Big 12 tournament.

Texas was hoping to get a boost from the return of big man Cameron Ridley, who had been out since late December with a broken foot. He was cleared to practice this week and checked in with about 6 minutes to go in the first half, then immediately got fouled and contributed two free throws.

Ridley wound up playing just 2 minutes, though.

“The doctor and trainer gave me a restriction on how many minutes he could play,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “At halftime he was feeling a little pain so that was that. He wasn’t going to play anymore.”

The Bears opened a 31-16 lead late in the first half, slicing right through a Texas defense that held Oklahoma State to 50 points its last time out. And when the Longhorns made a small run to trim their deficit to single digits, Jake Lindsey hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Baylor a 38-27 lead at the break.

The Bears pushed their advantage to 59-40 on Johnathan Motley’s breakaway dunk midway through the second half, and the small contingent of Longhorns fans – with the Jayhawks and Wildcats waiting in the wings, there wasn’t much Baylor flavor either – continued to sit on their hands.

Smart’s bunch finally gave them a reason to cheer.

Taylor’s first basket of the game with 10:36 to go started a 10-0 run, and Prince Ibeh capped it with a rim-rattling dunk over Gathers to make it 59-50 with about 7 minutes to go.

The Longhorns kept the Bears uncomfortable the rest of the way, but they were unable to make the stops they needed to complete their comeback. Prince combined with Al Freeman and Lester Medford to make enough free throws down the stretch to put the game away.

“They were the more aggressive team for the majority of the game,” said Smart, who got his first taste of the Big 12 tournament. “That’s what allowed them to win.”

RICO’S HEALTH

Gathers dealt with an illness late in the season, but said he’s close to being in shape. He played 22 minutes against the Longhorns. “Trying to get myself back into the groove of things,” he said.

TIP-INS

Baylor: Ish Wainwright had eight boards. … The Bears are 22-2 when leading at the half. … Baylor is 11-7 against Texas since snapping a 24-game losing streak in the rivalry.

Texas: Taylor also contributed three rebounds. … The Longhorns had won three of their last four, with their lone loss to Kansas. … Texas lost to Baylor in the Big 12 semifinals two years ago.

UP NEXT

Baylor faces the Jayhawks or Wildcats in Friday night’s semifinals.

Texas awaits its NCAA Tournament seeding on Sunday.