KANSAS CITY, MO (AP) – Perry Jones III scored a career-high 31 points, hitting 11 of 14 shots, and powered No. 12 Baylor past Kansas State 82-74 Thursday in the Big 12 tournament.
The 6-foot-11 Jones, whose season was a bit of a disappointment after being the coaches’ preseason pick as conference player of the year, also had 11 rebounds for his eighth double-double for the fourth-seeded Bears (26-6).
The tournament’s opening game was a sharp contrast to last year for Jones, who was suspended by the NCAA just hours before the team was to leave for Kansas City and wound up sitting out the first five games of this season as well.
Brady Heslip had 15 points and Pierre Jackson added 13 points and eight assists for Baylor, which shot a sizzling 57 percent while debuting bright, fluorescent yellow uniforms.
Jordan Henriquez, often left unattended in the middle of Baylor’s zone defense, scored a career-high 22 points for Kansas State (21-10), which had split with Baylor in the regular season.
Jones had 20 points on 8-for-8 shooting as the Bears took a 9-point halftime lead. For the game, he was 7 for 9 from the foul line and also had two blocks. His first miss was an attempt at a driving layup in the opening minutes of the second half. His second miss was on a shot that was blocked.
Just as the Bears were heading to the tournament last year, the NCAA suspended Jones because of a mortgage loan his mother had accepted two years earlier. The school vigorously contested the ruling, but it stood.
Jones scored 11 points in a row during one stretch in the first half as the Bears (26-6) slowly took charge of the Kansas State team that had beaten them by one point on Feb. 18.
The closest Kansas State came in the second half was five points, when Rodney McGruder sank a pair of free throws to make it 53-48. but then A.J. Walton scored an Jackson drove in for a layup and a 57-48 lead that went to 62-50 a few minutes later when Quincy Acy stole t he ball at midcourt, drove in for a layup and sank a foul shot when McGruder fouled him.
In the take-charge run in the first half, Jones canned a 3-pointer to put the Bears on top 16-15, then followed that with a tap-in and a three-point play.
Martavious Irving, in the meantime, was on a seven-point run for the Wildcats. Irving’s 3-pointer sliced Baylor’s six-point lead in half, then Jones, with a nifty feed from Jackson, connected for Baylor.
Henriquez’s three-point play pulled Kansas State even at 27-all, then Heslip drove in for a layup, drew a foul and sank the free throw and followed that with a 3-point bucket.
Jackson’s left-handed floater in the final seconds sent the Bears into halftime with their biggest lead, 45-36.
McGruder had 14 points for Kansas State and Angel Rodriguez had 12.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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