MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP)—Cole Aldrich had 21 points, Sherron Collins added 19 and No. 16 Kansas used defense to rally from a 16-point first-half deficit and beat rival Kansas State 85-74 on Saturday.
Coming off a last-second, 62-60 loss at Missouri on Monday, Kansas (20-5, 9-1 Big 12) dug itself out of the big early hole by creating easy shots off its defense. The Jayhawks kept it up in the second half, shooting 56 percent to reach 20 wins for the 20th straight season.
Marcus Morris had 15 points and Brady Morningstar added 12 for Kansas, which has won 38 of the past 40 meetings against Kansas State. The Jayhawks are 25-1 in Manhattan since 1984.
Kansas State (17-8, 6-5) fed off a rowdy crowd to build the early lead, but couldn’t sustain it against Kansas’ pressure defense. Denis Clemente had 26 points and Jacob Pullen added 22 for the Wildcats, who were 9-of-28 from the floor in the second half.
Led by All-American Michael Beasley, Kansas State ended a 24-game homecourt losing streak to Kansas with an 84-75 victory last year, setting off a wild celebration that had the students rushing the court and the K-State players dancing on the scorer’s table.
Kansas State’s fans were ready for a repeat—particularly after Kansas’ rout in Lawrence last month—creating a charged-up atmosphere inside Bramlage Coliseum well before the opening tip. The Wildcats fed off the energy, hitting five of their first eight shots, then whipped the crowd into an ear-splitting frenzy with an 18-2 run to go up 28-13 midway through the first half.
Kansas coach Bill Self nearly emptied his bench trying to find someone to provide a spark, using 11 players in the first 11 1/2 minutes. Finally, he found a combination that worked.
Sparked by its defense, Kansas got out in transition to score some easy baskets, building confidence with each trip. The Jayhawks used a late 12-2 run to get back in it and ended up shooting 16-of-28 from the floor to get within 43-42 by halftime.
Kansas kept up its defensive intensity early in the second half, setting up a 10-2 run that put the Jayhawks up 63-53 at the midpoint.
Part of what got Kansas in trouble early was the inability to stop Clemente or Pullen.
Pullen started off by hitting two long 3-pointers to get the crowd into it, then hit another to stop a Kansas run. He hit all three of his 3-point attempts and had 13 points by halftime.
Clemente tied a Big 12 record with 44 points against Texas on Jan. 31 and was feeling it again, hitting step-back 3-pointers and runners in the lane. He was 4-of-6 from 3-point range and had 18 points before the break.
Kansas cut down on the duo’s chances in the second half, holding them to a combined 4-of-17 shooting, then pulled away down the stretch.