No. 2 Kansas beat No. 5 Kansas State 82-65 Wednesday night to clinch its sixth straight Big 12 regular-season title
Sherron Collins had 17 points in his final game at Allen Fieldhouse and No. 2 Kansas beat No. 5 Kansas State 82-65 Wednesday night to clinch its sixth straight Big 12 regular-season title outright.
Xavier Henry scored 15 of his 19 points in a tight first half and Kansas (28-2, 14-1) wore down Kansas State in a foul-filled game to extend the nation’s longest home winning streak to 59 games. The Jayhawks are 32-2 against Kansas State in the Big 12 era and will have the No. 1 seed in next week’s Big 12 tournament.
Kansas State (24-5, 11-4) relied on the guard combination of Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente to keep it close while its front line struggled with foul trouble. Clemente had 21 points and Pullen scored 15 of his 20 in the first half, while the five biggest Wildcats combined for 19 points.
The last time these rivals met, it was billed as one of the biggest games in the rivalry’s 113-year history. The game matched the hype, with second-ranked Kansas pulling out an 81-79 overtime win at Kansas State’s eardrum-bursting Octagon.
Turns out, it was just Round 1 of this rivalry rumble.
The Wildcats reeled off seven straight wins after that loss, wearing out opponents with their relentless style. The Jayhawks clinched a share of the Big 12 title and are vying for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament despite a sluggish loss at Oklahoma State.
You’d have to flip the calendar back to 1958 to find a Sunflower game that meant this much. That was the last time these teams played with both ranked in the top 5, a game in which No. 4 Kansas State and coach Tex Winter took down Wilt Chamberlain and the second-ranked Jayhawks 79-75.
With Wilt’s No. 13 looming in the rafters 52 years later, Allen Fieldhouse was juiced like few times before. The Phog shook before the game started, especially after Collins took his tearful bows during a pregame ceremony, and even the pregame video was a decibel or two over the usual roar.
The Wildcats claimed they weren’t intimidated, didn’t mind when coach Frank Martin bluntly told them it was the biggest game since they’d arrived at the Little Apple.
They didn’t play like it early.
Chucking up wild shots—Jamar Samuels shot one off the BACK of the backboard—and passes to the cheerleaders, Kansas State found itself in a 15-4 hole. At least it was better than last year, when Kansas went up 18-0 before the fans had settled into their seats.
But, just like last year, the Wildcats clawed their way back.
Following the lead of the ever-calm Pullen, Kansas State whittled away, pulling within 40-36 on Wally Judge’s soaring rebound slam just before halftime. The Wildcats kept it up to start the second, tying it at 45-all on Clemente’s 3-pointer in transition to cap a 7-0 run.
But that was it.
Kansas answered with a 12-2 run to go up 57-47, then Collins—1 for 10 at the time—went to work, scoring seven straight points to put the Jayhawks up 66-56. Tyshawn Taylor added a 3-pointer to cap the 15-3 run, all but clinching another impressive win for the Jayhawks.