LAWRENCE, Kansas — Getting off to a sensational start is only half the battle. Bill Self hopes No. 9 Kansas learned that lesson while beating Kansas State 68-57 on Saturday and holding the Wildcats to one of their most miserable halfs ever.
"If somebody's going to shoot 17 percent against you, you would think we could take advantage of it more than we did," the Kansas coach said. "I didn't think we did a good job of taking advantage of them shooting a low percentage."
Kansas led only 33-17 at halftime.
"The second half, we certainly didn't guard them near as well," Self said.
The Jayhawks (18-3, 7-1), protecting their first-place standing in the Big 12 race, held Kansas State to 6-for-35 shooting in the opening half. That tied for fourth-worst ever in a first half for the Wildcats.
"We guarded pretty well the first half. We challenged everything," Self said.
Perry Ellis had a double-double in the first half and wound up with 16 points and 12 rebounds to help the Jayhawks beat their state rival for the 49th time in the last 53 games. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference in 1996, Kansas is 41-4 against the Wildcats (12-10, 5-4).
"I was very disappointed in our competitive spirit, especially on the defensive end at the beginning of the game," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "We talked at halftime that Oklahoma was down by 20 at halftime and they came back."
Kansas, ahead by one game in the Big 12 coming into the game, got 14 points from Wayne Selden and 10 from Frank Mason.
Thomas Gipson had had 19 points and seven rebounds and Marcus Foster scored 19 points for Kansas State. In the first 20 minutes, The Jayhawks made nine of their first 14 shots, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Brannen Greene and Mason during a 14-1 spree. Kelly Oubre sneaked under the basket for a layup off an inbounds pass that made it 18-5 and then Cliff Alexander rebounded one of the 29 shots Kansas State missed in the first half and Ellis finished off the run with layup.
"It was a great start," Ellis said. "We just have to learn how we can keep playing with that intensity. We let up and we can't do that. That's what we really need to learn. We did a great job in the first half."
Stephen Hurt came off the bench and hit two quick 3-pointers in the final minute for Kansas State, making the final margin more respectable.
Gipson's basket shrank the lead to 58-46, but Selden's one-handed follow shot and Mason's gliding layup put the Jayhawks back on top 62-46 before Marcus Foster drained a 3-pointer for the Wildcats at the 4:37 mark.
A few minutes earlier, Wesley Iwundu, Kansas State's promising 6-7 sophomore, hit back-to-back baskets to cut the lead to 47-34 but then was whistled for his third foul.
Kansas State: The Wildcats improved considerably in the second half except at the foul line, hitting only 7 of 13. They never got closer than 11 points after their cold first half. ... In three games as Kansas State coach, Weber has lost in Allen Fieldhouse by 21, 26 and 11 points.
Kansas: Self is 24-4 against Kansas State. After getting outrebounded by 10 in their previous games, the Jayhawks worked hard on the boards during practice and grabbed 42 rebounds to K-State's 37. Kansas State is beginning a stretch of five road games in the next seven outings.
Greene was 3 for 4 from 3-point range and is drawing high praise for his long touch. Selden blocked four shots, one reason Kansas State had so much trouble on offense.
Kansas: Hosts No. 15 Iowa State on Monday night.
Kansas State: Plays at Texas Tech on Wednesday night.
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