Conference openers against an instate rival aren't supposed to be easy, but at the end of Wednesday night's Sunflower Showdown Kansas had things well in hand. It wasn't always pretty, but the Jayhawks were just too much for the Kansas State Wildcats despite a performance that included a few too many turnovers and some fairly careless basketball during stretches of the game.
The Jayhawks started strong early and held an 18 point lead at one point in the first half before Kansas State clawed their way back into this one. It was a fairly typical flow for a Kansas versus Kansas State game in Lawrence. And then, so it goes, Kansas runs away with it.
A pair of three pointers by Conner Teahan just when Kansas State had closed the gap proved huge in getting the Kansas offense back on track. The Jayhawks would then use a solid defensive effort midway through the second half to pull away. For Kansas it represents another solid win over a ranked opponent and the win means Kansas has taken 43 of the last 46 games in this series.
Still you have to think that Kansas State will be a solid team in the Big 12 and the Wildcats will certainly be ready and looking to return the favor when Kansas heads to Manhattan. But for tonight Kansas get's the early win 67 to 49 and the Jayhawks start Big 12 play with a win keeping pace with Baylor and Missouri, two teams who suddenly seem to be the media favorites in the conference after strong early season starts.
Travis Releford led the Jayhawks with 16 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs for the redshirt junior. Kansas also received a strong performance from Thomas Robinson who dropped in 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds despite some foul trouble and Jeff Withey quietly added a very nice performance for the Jayhawks on the interior with 8 points, 6 blocks and 9 rebounds.