Ellis, Embiid lead No. 13 Kansas past New Mexico

By Dave Skretta, Associated Press | Posted - Dec. 14, 2013 at 7:23 p.m.



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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Perry Ellis scored 21 points, Joel Embiid added a career-high 18 and No. 13 Kansas pulled away in the second half to beat New Mexico 80-63 on Saturday night and end a frustrating two-game skid.

Andrew Wiggins, who dealt with foul trouble much of the night, added 11 points for the Jayhawks (7-3), who led 39-38 at halftime but used two big runs over the final 20 minutes to blow it open.

It was the Jayhawks' ninth straight win at the Sprint Center, including their run to last year's Big 12 tournament title. After dropping games at Colorado and Florida, the win also kept Kansas from losing three straight non-conference games for the first time since the 1982-83 season.

Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams had 24 points apiece, but that was about it for the Lobos (7-2). Alex Kirk, who came into the game averaging 18.6 points, was held to just five on 2-for-8 shooting before fouling out with 2:53 remaining.

New Mexico was just 2 of 14 from beyond the arc.

The Jayhawks struggled with foul trouble in the paint in the first half, depriving coach Bill Self of Ellis, Embiid and Jamari Traylor for long periods of time. That allowed the 6-foot-9 Bairstow to go to work inside, scoring on an array of putbacks and spin moves.

The senior from Brisbane, Australia, had 16 points and four rebounds at the break.

When it wasn't Bairstow carrying the Lobos, it was Williams taking over. The speedy guard slashed through the Jayhawks' man-to-man defense to score 12 first-half points, forcing Self _ who seems to abhor zone defenses _ to employ one in an attempt to stop the easy inside buckets.

The Lobos' Arthur Edwards scored their second basket by anybody other than Bairstow and Williams just before the buzzer to get New Mexico within one at the break.

Kansas seized control with a 16-4 run to start the second half.

Embiid had nine points and Ellis the other seven during the spurt, but it was really fueled by the Jayhawks' defense. They slowed down Bairstow and kept Williams from getting into the lane, and that created better opportunities on the offensive end.

The Lobos eventually began chipping away at their 55-42 deficit, most of the surge coming from the foul line. By the time Williams converted a four-point play, New Mexico had managed to scrap and claw to 63-58 with 8:03 left, and briefly silence a crowd heavily in favor of Kansas.

But whenever the going got tough, the Jayhawks turned to Ellis and Embiid.

The 7-footer from Cameron answered Williams with a pair of foul shots, Ellis added a free throw moments later, and Embiid threw down a dunk as the crowd roared. Ellis added a dunk of his own moments later, forcing New Mexico coach Craig Neal to burn a timeout.

It didn't do a whole lot of good.

Williams missed after the timeout and Embiid scored again at the other end, pushing the Jayhawks' lead to 74-59 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining. Kansas merely coasted from there, wrapping up the victory in the first meeting between the two schools since the 1964-65 season.

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

Dave Skretta

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