By Dave Skretta
The Associated Press
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Ben McLemore scored 17 points before leaving in the final minutes with a right ankle injury, and fourth-ranked Kansas rolled to a 61-44 victory over Baylor on Monday night.
McLemore hit a 3-pointer and then scored an alley-oop dunk off a feed from Elijah Johnson to make it 61-42 with 2:44 remaining. The Jayhawks were back on offense when the freshman appeared to turn his ankle, lying on the court for several minutes while a trainer examined it.
McLemore eventually stood up and was helped to the Kansas locker room.
The injury was just about the only thing that didn’t go right for Kansas (15-1, 3-0 Big 12), which won its 14th straight game to match the fourth-longest streak in the Bill Self era.
Johnson added 12 points and Travis Releford had 10, while the Jayhawks’ defense held the Bears (11-5, 3-1) to 23.2 percent shooting and just 9 of 42 from inside the 3-point arc.
Freshman center Isaiah Austin had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Bears, who still have never won in 10 tries in Lawrence. Pierre Jackson finished with 10 points.
The Jayhawks used a pair of 10-3 runs to seize control in the first half, doing a good job of sharing the ball on offense and clogging up the interior on defense.
Baylor was just 4 of 25 from inside the 3-point arc in the first half — two of the makes were easy put-backs by Austin and Jackson — while the Jayhawks, one of the top shot-swatting teams in the nation, managed two blocks each from five different players.
The Bears carried over their offensive struggles from Saturday, when they trudged their way to a 51-40 win over TCU. They committed nine first-half turnovers — 16 for the game — against one of the nation’s premier defenses, and only had a single assist to show for six made field goals.
Still, they were within 23-18 on Austin’s 3-pointer with 5:26 left before Kansas went on a 10-2 run to finish the half. Five different players scored during the spurt.
The run was nearly derailed when Releford was called for a flagrant offensive foul, much to Self’s chagrin. But the Bears’ Deuce Bello badly missed two free throws, and Jackson was stuffed on a drive to the basket to leave Kansas ahead 33-20 at the break.
The Jayhawks stretched the lead to 42-23 early in the second half before Baylor trimmed it to 47-34 with 10:32 remaining on a run of free throws by Gary Franklin and A.J. Walton.
It was the closest the Bears had been since halftime.
Kansas again stretched the lead on a couple baskets by McLemore sandwiched around an easy inside look from Jeff Withey. And when Austin hit from 15 feet with 6:51 left to trim the deficit to 15, Johnson drove the lane and converted a three-point play as the shot-clock was expiring.
Austin’s 3-pointer got Baylor within 56-42 with 4:18 left, but McLemore poured in his own from the top of the key and then threw down his signature dunk in transition.
It would have been the exclamation mark on a blowout win.
Instead, his injury left a sellout crowd inside Allen Fieldhouse quiet as the final seconds ticked off the clock on the Jayhawks’ fourth win in their last five games against Baylor.
There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury.
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