KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When playing a team three times in a season, it’s very tough to go 3-0. In the semifinals of the 2016 Big 12 Championship, the No. 1 team in the nation, Kansas, took on Baylor for the third time this season, with the winner advancing to the championship game of the tournament.
Baylor led 23-21 at the half, but Kansas wanted it more in the second, making their first four shots from the field and first five free throws in the opening minutes. Kansas advances to the 2016 Big 12 Championship game with a 70-66 win over Baylor.
This is the Jayhawks’ second consecutive Big 12 title game, having won it all for the last time in 2013.
“Whoever we play will be a great team,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I have a different feeling about this tournament than what I’ve had in years past.”
Both teams struggled shooting in the first half, as Baylor freshman guard Jake Lindsay would end the half with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
After coming out of the locker room trailing against Baylor for the second time this season, Kansas electrified on their first four shots of the half, one coming later on a one-hand poster slam for junior guard Wayne Selden.
“It was a big spark, he (Selden) just gave us momentum off that and just flow off it,” sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham said.
Kansas would see a 16-point lead with 1:51 remaining evaporate as Baylor would get as close at three in the late stages of the game, where even Self brought back in his starters for the last 20 seconds of the game.
The Jayhawks were led in scoring by senior forward Perry Ellis with 20 points, one of four players in double-figures. Graham had 14 points, while Selden added 11 and freshman forward Carlton Bragg Jr. had ten points.
“Momentum keeps going up and motivation as well,” Bragg said. “When we are playing as a team we can be really good.”
Kansas (29-4, 15-3) will play either West Virginia or Oklahoma in the Championship game of the Big 12 Championship on Saturday at 5 p.m. central at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.