LAWRENCE, Kan. — With six seconds to play, redshirt freshman Ben McLemore banked in a dramatic game-tying three, and the sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks squeaked out a 97-89 overtime victory over the Iowa State Cyclones in Wednesday night’s Big 12 Opener at Allen Fieldhouse.
McLemore finished the game with a career-high 33 points after going 10-12 from the field, and 6-6 from three-point range. He also helped write the newest chapter in Jayhawks folklore after hitting one of the most clutch regular-season shots in the modern era of Kansas basketball.
Iowa State (10-4, 0-1 Big 12) jumped out to an 8-3 lead on a three-pointer by freshman forward Georges Niang, who scored each of the Cyclones’ first eight points.
Kansas (13-1, 1-0 Big 12) answered with a 10-0 run to go up 13-8, but there were nine total lead changes in the first half as the Cyclones kept firing. The Jayhawks led 42-38 at the break.
Early in the second half, the Cyclones went on a 9-0 run to take a 49-48 lead on a three-pointer by senior guard Chris Babb at the 14:53 mark. The Clones extended their lead to 54-49 with under 12 minutes to play.
Iowa State maintained their lead throughout the second half, and extended their lead to 73-67 with under four minutes to play, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish until the game’s final seconds. They led by four points with :21 seconds remaining.
In OT, Iowa State fell flat, and Kansas took over. The Jayhawks outrebounded the Cyclones 45-38. KU shot 50% from the field, and 42% from three-point range.
Five Jayhawks scored in double figures. Senior center Jeff Withey added a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Senior forward Kevin Young recorded his second straight double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The Cyclones shot 41% from the field, and 37% from beyond the arc, but they jacked up enough three’s to connect on 14 of them. Five Iowa State players also scored in double figures. They were led by junior forward Melvin Ejim, who recorded a double-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists.
The Jayhawks have now won 22 straight conference openers, and 31 straight overall at home. They now lead the all-time series against Iowa State 172-59.
Next up, Kansas hits the road for a showdown with the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday.