Kansas State holds on late to beat No. 22 Baylor, 63-61
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Nino Williams possess an old man’s game. He loves to shoot baseline jumpers, prefers layups to dunks. The next time he takes a 3-pointer might just be the first.
In short, he has the perfect game for taking down Baylor’s zone defense.
Kansas State’s senior forward had 18 points to fuel a big second-half rally Saturday, and then helped the Wildcats force hot-handed guard Kenny Chery into missing a layup at the buzzer that preserved a 63-61 victory over the No. 22 Bears.
"I thought I was in the groove," Williams said. "I got a couple of easy ones, the crowd got into it. Once the crowd got into it, everyone had energy."
Marcus Foster added 11 points and Thomas Gipson finished with nine for the Wildcats (10-7, 4-1 Big 12), who have bounced back from an ugly non-conference run to win their fourth straight.
"They’ve come back and fought and listened and been coachable, and that’s what we talk about a lot: We try to stay positive," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said.
The Wildcats trailed by as many as 12 in the second half before taking their first lead with about 6 minutes to go. The Bears (13-4, 2-3) were still within 61-58 with 45 seconds left, but Chery and Lester Medford each missed open 3-pointers that would have tied it.
Nigel Johnson made one of two foul shots for Kansas State, and Chery quickly raced the other way for layup with 5.4 seconds to go. And after Thomas Gipson was fouled and made his second of two free throws, Chery’s runner to the left of the lane bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Chery, who hit the winner with 4 seconds left against No. 11 Iowa State this week, finished with 21 points for Baylor. Taurean Prince added 20 points off the bench.
"First, you have to give them credit on the defense, and second, we made some mistakes, too," Baylor coach Scott Drew. "There’s some layups we missed that you have to make in Big 12 play."
The Bears made life miserable for the Wildcats at the start, turning them over six times in the first 5 minutes and building a 13-2 lead by the time many fans had found their seats.
Kansas State, no defensive slouch itself, finally settled into a rhythm midway through the half. Starting with a dunk by pint-sized point guard Jevon Thomas, the Wildcats rattled off a 12-0 run over more than 7 minutes, whittling a 14-point lead to 24-22 with 2:04 left.
Prince and Chery answered with consecutive 3-pointers, and then Chery knocked down one more in Thomas’s face as the buzzer sounded to give Baylor a 33-24 halftime lead.
The Bears kept the defensive pressure up in the second half, double-teaming at the top of the key and forcing Kansas State’s inconsistent post players to beat them.
The plan was working for a while as Baylor held tight to a 51-42 lead with 9:26 to go. But about the same time Foster went to the bench with his fourth foul, the Wildcats took off, driving the lane for fouls and going on a 17-2 charge that allowed them to take their first lead.
Despite a nip-and-tuck final few minutes, the Wildcats held on for their 11th win in their last 14 games against ranked teams at Bramlage Coliseum.
"Everybody in the Big 12 is a good team. Nobody can really get comfortable at home," Williams said. "We were fortunate to make a couple of easy baskets."
The 14-point comeback was the 12th-largest in Kansas State history, and the largest since 2011. It culminated with the Wildcats’ sixth straight win against a Top 25 team at home.
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Baylor led for 31 minutes, 44 seconds, and the game was tied for 2:31. That means Kansas State led for less than 6 minutes total, including when it mattered the most.
Baylor lost for the second time this season (13-2) when scoring at least 60 points. … The Bears, ranked third nationally in offensive rebounds, had 17 of them.
Kansas State shot 59 percent from the field in the second half. … The Wildcats have held 11 straight opponents below 65 points, their best stretch since 18 in a row in 1982-83.
Baylor dips out of league play Wednesday night to face Huston-Tillotson, an NAIA school.
Kansas State plays its second game in a stretch of five straight against Top 25 opponents on Tuesday night at No. 11 Iowa State.