- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

WACO, Texas (AP) - Baylor was coming off a streak-busting victory over last week’s No. 8 team, and got started Tuesday night with an alley-oop dunk and a 3-pointer before No. 8 Kansas even took its first shot.

Almost as quickly, the Bears are sliding again after dropping their fourth straight home game.

Naadir Tharpe scored 22 points, nine in a go-ahead run before halftime, and Big 12-leading Kansas rebounded from its first league loss with a 69-52 victory.

“I feel like this team has still got something special,” Bears forward Rico Gathers said. “We’ve just got to start going out, when we get a win, and build on it instead of regressing. As long as we do that, we’re going to be in the running. … As long as we keep our heads high, we’ll be just fine.”

It has been a frustrating opening half of the league schedule for Baylor (14-8, 2-7 Big 12).

Cory Jefferson had 14 points to lead Baylor, which had won 13 straight at the Ferrell Center before their current slide. It’s the longest home drought since dropping six in a row in 2005.

The Bears shot only 29 percent from the field (16 of 55) - though coach Scott Drew, looking for a positive, pointed out they did have assists on all but one of those baskets. They were outrebounded 45-31.

“Round 1 is over in the league. We have to do better in Round 2,” Drew said. “The good thing is I believe we can win every game, but with the Big 12 being like it is we can lose every game. We have to make sure we play well to have a chance to win.”

Early on, there were three ties and nine lead changes. Tharpe’s short jumper with 3½ minutes left in the half broke a 25-all tie and put the Jayhawks (17-5, 8-1) ahead to stay.

The tiebreaking shot was Tharpe’s third basket in a 14-3 spurt over the final 5 minutes of the first half, and he added a 3-pointer with a minute left. He then made another 3 on Kansas’ opening possession after halftime.

Kansas standout rookie Andrew Wiggins finished 4-of-13 shooting and didn’t make his first basket until a half-court shot to beat the buzzer going into halftime for a 35-27 lead. He finished with 14 points, two off his Big 12 freshman-high average.

“Well, we ran that play for him at the end of the first half to get him going,” coach Bill Self joked.

“It was big. It gave a great momentum push going into halftime,” said Perry Ellis, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds. “It was great that he knocked that down. It got him going.”

The Bears, coming off a win at then-No. 8 Oklahoma State that snapped their overall five-game losing streak, was trying to set up for a final shot before halftime when Kenny Chery threw an errant pass that Wiggins intercepted.

Baylor has never won consecutive games over Top 25 opponents.

Kansas was coming off an 81-69 loss Saturday at surging Texas.

Baylor was within 49-44 midway through the second half and Wiggins had just shot and missed the rim.

But the Bears missed three free throws on the same possession. Then, with Baylor students chanting “Air Ball!, Air Ball!”, Wiggins swished a 3-pointer from the right wing. Wiggins scored again on the next possession to push the lead to 54-44, and had the next basket as well with a dunk with 7:49 left.

Brady Heslip had 12 points on four 3-pointers, but didn’t score again after his last gave Baylor a 22-21 lead with 6:34 left in the first half.

“They’re just tough, they’re physical. They play great defense and they know their identity, so they make it tougher,” Heslip said. “But we didn’t make enough shots to win against them tonight, either.”

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