LORENZO, Kan. – Jalen Wilson had 20 points, Kevin McCullar Jr. added 16 points and 13 rebounds, and No. 8 Kansas avenged a loss to Kansas State just a couple weeks ago with a 90-78 win over the seventh-ranked Wildcats place on Tuesday night.
Dajuan Harris Jr. scored 18 goals for the Jayhawks (18-4, 6-3 Big 12), who built a 12-point halftime lead before cruising to their 17th straight home victory over the Wildcats in their 10th game of league 10 teams in series history.
Kansas rebounded well from a rare three-game skid that included the overtime loss to Kansas State, and ensured they avoided a losing streak at their historic home for the first time since the 1988-89 season.
Markquis Nowell had 23 points and Keyontae Johnson had 22 to lead the Wildcats (18-4, 6-3), who were attempting their first regular season win against their biggest rival in four decades. Nae’Qwan Tomlin added 11 points and David N’Guessan had 10.
In their first meeting on Jan. 17, the Wildcats raced to a big early lead and controlled the game until late in the second half, when the Jayhawks forced overtime, only for Kansas State to win on an alley-oop dunk by Johnson.
It was the Jayhawks who controlled the rematch.
They used a 16-7 halftime run that included a technical foul on Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang to build a 32-19 lead. And when Johnson answered with eight straight points for the Wildcats, and the lead was eventually cut to four, the defending national champions again pulled away down the stretch.
It was 37-32 when Wilson had back-to-back 3-pointers and Zach Clemence added one of his own. And when Wilson hit two foul shots with about 10 seconds left, Kansas had built a 49-37 lead that went into halftime.
The Wildcats briefly got within six in the second half before the Jayhawks stretched their lead to 16.
Johnson had to sit out with two fouls just 2 1/2 minutes into the game. Only problem? The crew of John Higgins, Kip Kissinger and Marques Pettigrew gave one to the wrong player. By the time they corrected their mistake, the Wildcats’ leading scorer had ridden the bench uselessly for several minutes.
TENTED… AND THEN SOME
For the first time in more than 15 years, more Kansas students redeemed tickets than there was space inside Allen Fieldhouse. Overflow had to watch the game on the screens at the adjacent Horejsi Family Athletics Center, where the Jayhawks play volleyball. Those students also got rebates and discount coupons.
Kansas State’s three championship losses were to ranked teams on the road: TCU, Iowa State, and Kansas. And with a more lenient second half than the Big 12 schedule, the Wildcats remain firmly in the conference title hunt.
Kansas regained its appeal with a win over Kentucky this past weekend. This win over another group of Wildcats was crucial as the road isn’t getting any easier for the Jayhawks, who are in the midst of three straight games against teams ranked 13th or higher.
Kansas State heads home for another top-10 showdown on Saturday against No. 10 Texas.
Kansas takes to the road for the third time in four games against No. 13 Iowa State on Saturday.
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