It was a tale of two halves in Manhattan on Monday night, but the Jayhawks held on to knock off K-State in a huge game in the Big 12 standings.
The game opened up with a KU turnover, which would be a theme in the first half, followed by a K-State bucket, but then the Jayhawks absolutely blitzed K-State, taking leads of 12-2, 25-12, and 31-16. K-State wouldn’t just roll over and go away, though, closing to 32-27 with 4:45 to go until the break. At that point, Bill Self went zone and K-State didn’t score again in the first half, with the Jayhawks taking a 40-27 lead into halftime.
The second half started off pretty much the opposite of the first half, as K-State climbed to within five points at 40-35 with 15:13 to go as Kansas opened up the half with some severe statistical regression, hitting just two of their first 16 shots. But Kansas stayed in the 2-3 zone from the first half, frustrating K-State shooters and keeping the Wildcats at arm’s length.
Late in the second half, K-State started getting the ball inside on the Jayhawk zone, leading to some easy buckets for Xavier Sneed and Mike McGuirl, but by the under-4 timeout the KU lead was still in double figures and K-State began to bomb away from behind the arc. While the Wildcats made a few, they still couldn’t close the gap, and Kansas sealed a 70-54 victory.
Kansas shot a blistering 70% (14-20) from the field in the first half, but fell off to 26.9% (7-26) in the second. After 11 first half turnovers, KU only gave the ball away five times in the second half. However, defense was the story of the night as KU held K-State to 32.3% (21-65) from the field and just 22.2% (6-27) from behind the arc. The Jayhawks did an excellent job on Barry Brown, holding him to 4-16 shooting, while Xavier Sneed also struggled, hitting just 4-12.
With Garrett, Azubuike, and Vick all in first half foul trouble, going to zone really seemed to alleviate that issue, because it took K-State way to long to figure out how to beat it since they couldn’t shoot the Jayhawks out of it.
Svi Mykhailiuk led all scorers with 22 points on 8-18 shooting, including 5-9 from three. Svi added 7 rebounds and an assist.
Graham struggled from the field for the third (fourth?) game in a row, hitting just 3-10 shots, but hitting all 8 free throws and dishing out 11 assists against just 3 turnovers.
Malik Newman was KU’s best rebounder, picking up 10 boards to go along with 13 points and 3 assists, and also played pretty good defense most of the night.
Up next, the Jayhawks will return to Allen Fieldhouse to take on Oklahoma State on Saturday, February 3, at 11:00 AM Central Time.