No. 6 Kansas 71, Kansas St. 62
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP)—The Jayhawks took Manhattan—again.
No. 6 Kansas’ 71-62 victory over Kansas State on Monday night was its 24th straight in Manhattan, extending a streak that began before any of the Jayhawks were born.
Kansas hasn’t lost here since a 58-57 defeat on Jan. 29, 1983, in Ahearn Fieldhouse—the Wildcats’ old home gym. But while there’s some relief at not breaking the string, the important thing for Kansas is that the Jayhawks (24-4, 11-2 Big 12) now lead No. 8 Texas A&M by a half-game in the conference standings.
“We can’t get happy with ourselves now,” said sophomore guard Mario Chalmers, who scored 17 points. “We’ve got to keep getting better every game.”
Coach Bill Self agreed.
“The streak is not a big deal to the young guys,” he said. “What’s a big deal to us is that we still have a chance to win the league.”
Kansas State, meanwhile, is still seeking its 20th victory under new coach Bob Huggins—and its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1996.
“We haven’t won in this gym yet, so it’s definitely frustrating,” said Cartier Martin, who led Kansas State (19-9, 8-5) with 19 points. The big thing for us, though, is to make it to the tournament. I still feel like we’re in a situation where we can do that.”
Two of Kansas’ youngest players both came up big in packed Bramlage Coliseum, where Kansas State has never beaten the Jayhawks since the building opened for the 1988-89 season.
Freshman reserve guard Sherron Collins scored 20 points and led a key second-half run. Backup center Darrell Arthur, another freshman, had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
“Those are two pretty good freshmen coming in in this type of environment,” Self said. “For these two guys to come in and play as well as they did and produce like they did, it speaks pretty well for them.”
The freshmen’s output helped Kansas make up for Brandon Rush’s offensive struggles.
The sophomore guard, who came in leading the Jayhawks at 14.2 points per game, got in early foul trouble and never found his shooting stroke. He had 11 points, but was 3-for-9 from the field and 5-for-9 from the line.
He missed his first four shots, all from 3-point range, and didn’t score until he hit two free throws with 10:48 left in the first half.
He picked up his second foul just over a minute later, sat down for almost 5 minutes and then was hit with his third personal when Jason Bennett drew a charge with 3:02 remaining in the half.
“I did a dumb play on that third foul,” Rush said.
Kansas trailed 30-29 at the break and didn’t take control until the midpoint of the second half.
Two 3-pointers by Martin and another by Lance Harris pulled the Wildcats (19-9, 8-5) even at 43-all with 11:12 to go. But Collins answered with a 3-pointer that ignited a 16-4 run for the Jayhawks.
A basket by Rush and two free throws by Collins gave Kansas its first double-digit lead, 59-47, with 5:39 to go.
“In the first half, I got a little rattled,” Collins said. “The crowd got to me a little bit. I was rushing things and trying to force some passes, but in the second half I calmed down a little bit.”
Kansas State got to 68-62 on Clent Stewart’s layup with 46.9 to go, and then got the ball back on Akeem Wright’s steal. But David Hoskins missed a 2-footer with 15 seconds left, and Rush iced it when he hit one free throw, missed the second and put back his miss with just under 7 seconds to go.
“When you can’t score the ball close, it’s a hard game,” Huggins said. “How many second-chance opportunities did we get, and we can’t score? It makes it a hard game.”
Hoskins, who averaged 14.5 points for the Wildcats, finished with nine on 2-for-15 shooting.
“I couldn’t get the ball in the basket,” Hoskins said. “I think it was more of an off night than KU’s athletic ability. I’ve played against these guys before. I think I was a little too excited and I let it overwhelm me. I just didn’t perform.”
Jermaine Maybank, who scored a career-high 26 points for Kansas State in its 97-70 loss to the Jayhawks on Feb. 7, went scoreless Monday night.
The Wildcats shot just 32.3 percent (20-for-62).
Stewart added 13 points and Harris had 10 for the Wildcats.
Huggins was hit with a technical foul with just under 7 1/2 minutes remaining for arguing that Wright had been fouled on a missed layup. Rush missed both free throws, but Collins hit a 3-pointer on the Jayhawks’ ensuing possession for a 55-47 lead.
Someone in Kansas State’s student section threw a cup onto the floor in protest, but police and Bramlage security workers could not find the fan.
Martin and Kansas’ Russell Robinson drew a double technical for jawing at each other after Robinson’s driving layup with just over 12 minutes left in the game.