One thing is for certain, the Kansas Jayhawks pulled out of Bramlage Coliseum Tuesday night knowing they had been in a battle.
At the end of the night, KU won the game 59-55, but it was one not decided until the 3.6-second mark when Elijah Johnson made one of two free throws making it a two possession game.
“We didn’t stop fighting, but we didn’t play smart enough or well enough,” said Weber of the loss that slips K-State to 15-3 and ends an eight-game win streak. “If you look at it ahead of time and you see a game in the 50s you’d feel like maybe you had a chance to get a victory.”
K-State had the chance, but didn’t get the victory despite going almost everything that it took to win.
• It held KU’s transition game in check, and in fact won the fast break point count, 14-6.
• The ‘Cats eliminated those ally-oop dunks that the Jayhawks cash in on seemingly at the most opportune times.
• The KSU defense held KU to 59 points, which was a season-low.
• And, the ‘Cats turned the ball over a more than respectable 10 times.
The Wildcats scraped and were in it until the end despite being out-shot 46 percent to 35 percent, and out-boarded 35-28.
Defenses ruled as the 59-55 final was much like last year’s 59-53 KU win in Bramlage with those two games being two of the three lowest total scoring games in the Sunflower rivalry since 1992 when the Jayhawks won 54-52.
“We relied, obviously, on the 3-ball, 30 of them, but it’s something they give you,” Weber said. “You have to hit the open ones and then you would make them defend you a little different, but we didn’t do that.
“Somewhere along the line we have to get some more inside looks and we have to get some penetration to the basket,” Weber said of the lack of inside scoring.
In the end, Weber said not getting enough “50-50 loose balls” was pivotal to the outcome of the game, as were the eight points off the bench by freshman Perry Ellis.
Kansas shot to a 10-point lead, 53-43, at the 6:49 mark, but K-State then held the winners without a field goal until the 2:44 mark to help it climb back to within three, 56-53 at the 38-second mark before the Jayhawks put the game away at the foul line.
Shane Southwell led KSU’s charge with a career-high 19 points, which included five 3-pointers.
The win ended K-State’s eight-game win streak, and the win extended KU’s run to 16 games in a row.
Kansas moves into first place with the win at 5-0, while K-State is now tied for second at 4-1 with Oklahoma and Baylor, while Iowa State is another half-game back at 3-1.
“It’s a long journey,” Weber said of the rest of the season. “This is not the end of the season. The important thing is to get back in the gym and have good practices and get another road win at Iowa State.”
Credit KU’s Travis Releford for playing stifling defense on KSU’s Rodney McGruder.
K-State’s ace did score 13 points, but his first field goal didn’t come until the 1:27 mark of the first half on a transition dunk, and his first points out of offense didn’t come until early in the second half.
“Starting off the first half I thought I did real well at making him uncomfortable and not letting him get easy looks at the rim,” Releford said.
McGruder nailed a trio of 3-balls in the first 8:05 of the second half, but did not score again from the field as his only points came from the foul stripe with five seconds to go.
McGruder finished with 4-of 12 shooting overall and 3-of-9 from 3-point range.
RODRIGUEZ BREAKS KU SLUMP:
In two games last year, Rodriguez played 37 minutes in the two Kansas games combined and did not score a point. In the games the Wildcat guard was a combined 0-of-12 from the field.
That changed in a hurry on Tuesday as he tallied 12 of KSU’s 27 first-half points, which included 4-of-7 from 3-point range.
Rodriguez ended the game with 12 points with all of those coming in the first half. He also had eight assists, two steals and two turnovers in 36 minutes of action.