MANHATTAN, Kan. — In a grind-it-out defensive battle in front of a raucous sold-out crowd at Bramlage Coliseum, the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks held off the 11th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats 59-55 to win part one of the Sunflower Showdown on Tuesday night.
With first place in the Big 12 on the line, the Jayhawks won their 16th straight game, and snapped the Wildcats’ eight-game winning streak.
Kansas (17-1, 5-0 Big 12) jumped out to a 15-8 lead on a 3-pointer by Elijah Johnson with 12:08 to play in the first half. Ben McLemore took a seat on the bench after racking up a pair of charging calls midway through the first half.
Kansas State (15-3, 4-1 Big 12) went on a 9-0 run, and took a 19-18 lead on Shane Southwell’s 3-pointer at the 6:23 mark. The Jayhawks led 31-27 at halftime.
Jeff Withey’s dunk gave the Jayhawks a 39-30 lead with 16:19 to play. KU maintained the lead throughout the second half, but K-State kept within shouting distance. A 3-pointer by Southwell narrowed the gap to 54-49 with 5:35 to play.
Southwell took advantage of a late KU turnover, and went coast to coast for a layup to cut the deficit to 56-53 with :40 seconds to play. A pair of free throws by Naadir Tharpe with :23 seconds to play helped put the game on ice for the Jayhawks.
Withey led the Hawks with 11 points and 10 rebounds. In addition to his lockdown defense on K-State’s Rodney McGruder, Travis Releford added 12 points and three assists. McLemore finished with 11 points, five rebounds, and two blocks. KU shot 46% from the field, and 31% from three-point range.
Southwell led the Cats with 19 points and seven rebounds. Angel Rodriguez finished with 12 points, eight assists, five rebounds, and two steals. McGruder added 13 points. K-State shot 35% from the field, and 30% from beyond the arc. KU outrebounded K-State 31-28, but lost the turnover battle 13-10.
Kansas will host the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse, while K-State hits the road for a second place showdown against the Iowa State Cyclones.