No. 2 Kansas survives, tops UTEP 67-63 in Bahamas



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PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) - Perry Ellis scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half, Wayne Selden Jr. scored 14 and No. 2 Kansas survived a stiff challenge before beating Texas-El Paso 67-63 on Saturday night in the third-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Naadir Tharpe added 11 for the Jayhawks (6-1), who never trailed. The Jayhawks won despite Andrew Wiggins being held to six points, nearly 10 below the freshman's season average.

McKenzie Moore scored 15 for UTEP (4-4), including three free throws with 6.8 seconds remaining to get the Miners within three. Justin Crosgile scored 14 points and Vince Hunter added 10 the Miners, who held Kansas to 39 percent shooting.

It was the second straight night where Kansas saw a big early lead, 11-2 against Villanova and 15-2 against UTEP, evaporate and the game turn into a struggle.

The finish was frantic, with UTEP scoring 13 points in just over a minute, but Kansas had enough.

Barely, but enough.

And if UTEP had been better from the line, it might have been a different story _ the Miners missed 10 of 24 tries from the stripe.

Kansas led by 15 in the second half, and after a series of UTEP rallies, the Jayhawks were still up by 14 following Ellis' jumper from the right wing with 2:21 left.

It was 59-45 at that point. It was 18-8 UTEP the rest of the way, a far cry from how the Miners started the night.

On UTEP's first possession, Miners coach Tim Floyd _ who isn't exactly shy about going against convention, with his box-and-one and triangle-and-two defenses already having been on display in the Bahamas _ did something hardly ever seen anymore, especially at the start of games.

He stalled.

Think the old North Carolina "four corners," or something akin to it, anyway. That's what the Miners did in the opening minutes, running an average of 30.1 seconds off the 35-second shot clock on their first nine possessions. Simple logic, really _ the fewer possessions Kansas had, the fewer chances it would have to score.

It only sort of worked.

After 5 1/2 minutes, Kansas had only two points.

In that same span, the Miners had zero points.

The Miners missed their first six shots and didn't get on the board until 12:35 remained in the half, a drive by C.J. Cooper snapping an 0 for 6 start by UTEP and cutting Kansas' lead to 7-2. By the time UTEP scored again, Kansas had already pushed the lead out to 15-2, running off eight straight. And along the way, UTEP ditched the gimmick and just started playing.

That's when it became a game, for really the first time. UTEP went on an 18-11 spurt, getting within 26-20 late in the half. Wiggins _ who had been scoreless until then _ scored six straight to give Kansas a 12-point lead with 1:30 left, and Selden's acrobatic drive gave the Jayhawks a 34-25 lead at the break.

The Jayhawks were shooting 57 percent for the season before arriving in the Bahamas, wound up struggling from the floor in each of their three games at the Atlantis Resort, yet went home with a 2-1 mark anyway.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Tim Reynolds

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