Jayhawks maintain hold on Big 12 lead with 70-56 win over K-State
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas shot the ball great against Kansas State in the first half but kept turning it over Monday night, then shot poorly in the second half but did a better job taking care of it.
The good trumped the bad enough for the Jayhawks to win both halves.
Svi Mykhailiuk had 22 points to lead four Kansas players in double figures and the seventh-ranked Jayhawks beat the Wildcats 70-56 to retain sole possession of the Big 12 lead.
Devonte’ Graham added 16 points and Malik Newman had 13 for the Jayhawks (18-4, 7-2), who celebrated the Kansas Day holiday with their seventh straight victory over their biggest conference rival.
It was the first time in four meetings the outcome was decided by more than three points. Kansas won 73-72 in Lawrence on Jan. 13.
“If you’re going to be up 13 on the road, have 12 turnovers and go 6 for 13 from the foul line, you wouldn’t think that would be the case,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said of the first half. “Somehow, we were able to keep the lead and win both halves.”
Dean Wade had 20 points and eight rebounds, and Xavier Sneed scored 10 for the Wildcats (16-6, 5-4), who had their four-game winning streak snapped. Leading scorer Barry Brown was held to nine points — about half his season average — on 4-of-16 shooting (0 for 4 from the 3-point arc).
“I told the guys we had to play better than we did in Lawrence,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said, “because they’re a great road team. They have good poise. They understand each other, their roles. I expected them to come at us and they did.”
The Jayhawks raced to a 15-4 lead in the opening minutes, seizing control by hitting 12 of their first 14 shots. But the turnovers quickly began to mount — at one point they had seven against six field-goal attempts– and that allowed the Wildcats to whittle into the lead.
Kansas State missed its final 11 field-goal attempts, though, as the Jayhawks switched to a zone defense. And that allowed the Jayhawks to take a 40-27 lead into the locker room.
“I think the zone slowed them down. They kind of got stagnant,” Graham said. “I think we definitely controlled the tempo with that. We work on it every day in practice just in case we need it.”
The same rim that seemed to have a lid on it for the Wildcats was just as vexing for Kansas after halftime. Kansas missed its first 11 shots, and it wasn’t until Mykhailiuk knocked down his third 3 of the game with 12:42 left that the Jayhawks finally converted from the field.
The Wildcats had problems of their own: Sneed, one of their leading scorers, spent a long stretch on the sideline as trainers tried to work out a cramp in his left leg.
Sneed eventually returned and Kansas State got the lead down to single digits several times down the stretch, closing within 59-50 when Mike McGuirl scored with 4 1/2 minutes to go.
Newman answered with a basket at the other end, and Mykhailiuk swished another 3-pointer from right in front of his own bench as the Jayhawks puffed up their cushion one more time.
“I don’t think we were in rhythm the whole game,” Wade said. “We didn’t get inside enough. There’s a lot of different things that happened that we could have done better.”
Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot hit his head hard on the floor while taking a charge late in the game, and he remained on the floor for several minutes. But he eventually got to his feet and walked off with some help. “They said he was fine,” Self said. “I guess he passed the protocol.”
Kansas has been unable to put teams away after getting a big lead, and the Jayhawks let most of a 15-point advantage go away Monday. But they were able to stretch it out again down the stretch, a sign that perhaps they are finding their killer instinct.
Kansas State took the Jayhawks to the buzzer at Allen Fieldhouse, and will no doubt rue another round of missed chances in the return game. The Wildcats shut down the Jayhawks most of the second half, holding them to 26.9 percent from the floor, but were unable to pull all the way back.
Kansas plays Oklahoma State on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas State heads to No. 15 West Virginia on Saturday.