Nassau, Bahamas (SportsNetwork.com) - Andrew Wiggins scored 17 points and second-ranked Kansas withstood a challenge from Wake Forest to record an 87-78 victory in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Frank Mason added 13 points and Joel Embiid had 10 to help the Jayhawks (5-1) advance to face Villanova in Friday's semifinals.
Wake Forest (5-1) was able to cut a 14-point halftime deficit down to five entering the final minute of play, with Codi Miller-McIntyre netting 17 of his game-high 26 points after the break. However, Kansas hit 6-of-7 free throws down the stretch to send the Demon Deacons to their first loss of the season.
"I thought Wake Forest really outplayed us the second half," Kansas head coach Bill Self said. "Fortunately we had gotten a little bit of a cushion, but a lot of things we can improve on."
The Deacons will take on USC, a 94-79 loser to Villanova in the event's first game, in Friday's consolation round.
Kansas trailed 11-9 four minutes in, but assumed control via a 15-2 run that was aided by four Wake Forest turnovers. A Naadir Tharpe 3-pointer ignited the surge, while Andrew White III capped it with a layup and free throw that put the Jayhawks ahead by a 24-13 score midway through the period.
Wake Forest managed to close within 27-20 later on, before the Jayhawks responded with seven consecutive points to build a 14-point advantage with under 3 1/2 minutes to go in the half.
Wiggins tipped in a Tharpe miss for a 38-22 KU lead 1:15 prior to the intermission, and the Jayhawks went into the break up 40-26 despite shooting a pedestrian 42.4 percent from the field.
Kansas then went through a cold spell early in the second half and the Demon Deacons capitalized, with Miller-McIntyre accounting for six points during an 11-2 spurt that trimmed the margin to 46-42 with 14 minutes left.
The Jayhawks answered with a 10-3 push to restore a double-digit cushion and were seemingly up comfortably at 75-64 following a Perry Ellis layup with 3:36 to go. Miller-McIntyre buried a three on the ensuing possession, though, then hit another with 1:56 left to pull Wake Forest within 79-74.
Kansas successfully warded off the upset bid, however, with its solid free throw shooting in the last minute. Wiggins put the finishing touches on the win after being fouled when converting a layup with three seconds showing, with the heralded freshman making the ensuing bonus attempt for the final margin.
Demon Deacons forward Devin Thomas was ejected after picking up a pair of technical fouls with 7:28 left to play ... Kansas finished the game with a 46.8 shooting percentage, its lowest of the season. The Jayhawks had not shot worse than 53.5 percent in any of their first five games ... Wake Forest went 8-of-19 from 3-point range, compared to a 3-of-15 success rate for the Jayhawks ... The schools were meeting for the first time since the 2001-02 season, an 83-76 KU win at Allen Fieldhouse.