Down to the final seconds, redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore banked a shot off the glass. His fifth three-pointer of the night proved to be the most clutch, tying the game and sending Kansas to overtime – and ultimately – the win against Iowa State, 97-89, in the Big 12 Conference opener inside Allen Fieldhouse Wednesday evening.
No. 6 Kansas (13-1) won its 22nd-straight conference debut in thrilling fashion, collecting its eighth-consecutive win against Iowa State (10-4) in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks’ 31st-straight win in Allen Fieldhouse didn’t lack for excitement.
McLemore’s miracle gave the Jayhawks new life as they started overtime on a blistering 10-0 run. Once he sent the game past regulation, the St. Louis native drilled three-pointer number six, making him a perfect 6-for-6 from behind the arc en route to his personal-best 33 points – just two shy of the Kansas freshman single-game record set by Danny Manning (35, vs. Oklahoma State, 3/2/85).
During a night that belonged to him, McLemore missed only two shots (10-for-12) and none from the free-throw line (7-for-7).
Three different Jayhawks put up double-doubles, starting with senior center Jeff Withey, who finished with his sixth of the year on 15 points and 12 rebounds, while fellow senior Elijah Johnson also tallied a double-double with 12 points and a career-high 10 assists. Senior guard Travis Releford added 12 points, all of which came after the first half. Senior forward Kevin Young chalked up his second double-double in three games with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Although Kansas saw a season-high five different players hit double-figures, Iowa State registered six with 10 or more points. The Cyclones came to Lawrence as the best scorers in the league and proved it with 14 threes (14-for-38). Prior to Wednesday night, Kansas was the only Big 12 team to hit that mark from three-point land this season (15 vs. American).
ISU finished the night with 30 field goals (30-for-73) compared to KU’s 31 (31-for-62), but used 11 more attempts. Junior forward Melvin Ejim led the team with 19 points, 16 of which came after the first half. Redshirt seniors Will Clyburn and Korie Lucious followed him with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
To open the game, freshman forward Georges Niang made a pair of threes and a short jumper as ISU got out to a quick 8-3 start. A pair of three-pointers from Johnson quickly helped even the score before McLemore downed his first trey of the evening. Before the first media timeout, both squads had multiple threes to their credit as Kansas climbed ahead via an 8-0 run, 11-8.
KU stretched its scoring run to 10-0 until senior guard Tyrus McGee knocked down back-to-back threes, setting the tone for the back-and-forth evening. After each team began the game with sizable scoring runs, the two held each other within no more than a three-point margin for more than 10 minutes.
The closeness of the first half hung additional importance on each bucket. Down by a point, Johnson pulled off a drive similar to his Temple performance to put Kansas back in front, 23-22. Layups from Young and sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe pushed Kansas back to its largest lead of the half, 32-27, but a three from Lucious attempted to curb the Jayhawks’ growing advantage.
McLemore and Co. were just getting warmed up. McLemore drained his third three of the half and Tharpe made his way through the lane for another layup, powering Kansas forward, 40-32, with less than two minutes remaining in the frame.
Predictably, Iowa State didn’t go to the break quietly. After a pair of made free throws from McGee, redshirt senior guard Chris Babb grabbed a rebound with seven seconds on the clock and sprinted down the floor for a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the half on a 5-0 run and cut the KU lead to four by halftime, 42-38.
Kansas kicked off the second half with a little room, taking a 48-40 edge, but only momentarily. Babb intercepted a pass from Young and immediately converted it into a three-point basket. His next trey capped a 9-0 run and handed the Cyclones their first lead of the half, 49-48.
Two-straight fouls called against McLemore, the second of which sent Babb to the line for three shots, prompted a Kansas timeout as the Jayhawks fell behind by five with 13 minutes to play.
Shooting an icy 23 percent (3-for-13) midway through the second half, Kansas continued to trail, but with both teams going without a field goal for more than four minutes the deficit didn’t worsen. By the time Releford tore down the court for a fastbreak dunk, the Jayhawks had cut their deficit to one, 54-53. Forty-five seconds later, Releford connected again, seemingly restarting both offenses and the trading-baskets routine resumed.
Down 63-57, its largest deficit of the game, McLemore went into action. The rookie nailed a three from the corner, drawing the foul and knocking the and-one down, as well. Moments later, he hit a runner in the lane to offset a jumper by ISU’s Ejim. In less than two minutes, McLemore scored nine points to fight off the visiting team.
But the Cyclones kept coming. Free throws from Lucious and McGee’s third three of the game had Iowa State up, 73-67, at the four-minute mark. Withey’s layup secured the double-double and cut into the deficit, while Tharpe converted both free throws to set up the thrilling finish, trailing 73-71.
With 27 seconds on the clock, the Cyclones pulled ahead, 77-73, putting the game out of reach – or so they thought.
McLemore’s shot not only sent the game to overtime, but also ignited the Kansas offense. The Jayhawks cranked out 18 points, on 100 percent (4-for-4) shooting to smother the Cyclones in overtime.
KANSAS 97, IOWA STATE 89
JAN. 9, 2013
KANSAS STARTERS (Career/Season):
C Jeff Withey (54/14); G Elijah Johnson (60/14); G Ben McLemore (14/14); F Travis Releford (56/14); F Kevin Young (11/11)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 172-59
· Made Kansas 13-1 on the season
· Gave KU a record of 13-1 or better for the third time in the last four seasons and for the fifth time in the 10 years of the Bill Self era
· Gave KU its 12th-straight win
· Marked the 22nd-straight season that the Jayhawks have opened conference play with a win, dating back to the 1991-92 season
· Gave KU its seventh-straight league-opening win at Allen Fieldhouse
· Marked the Jayhawks’ eighth-straight win over Iowa State in Lawrence
· Extended KU’s home-court winning streak to 31 games
· Improved the Jayhawks to 691-107 all-time in Allen Fieldhouse, including 154-7 under head coach Bill Self
· Moved Bill Self to 282-54 at Kansas and 489-159 overall in his career
· Improved KU to 2,083-807 all-time
· Marked KU’s fifth-straight overtime victory dating back to an 89-81 loss to Syracuse on Nov. 25, 2008.
· The overtime game marked KU’s first since defeating Missouri 87-86 in Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 25 of last season.
· KU’s 97 points were a season high and the most since KU tallied 100 points against Towson on Nov. 11, 2011.
· Kansas scored 14-straight points from the final seconds of regulation to the 2:12 mark of overtime.
· The Jayhawks scored 18 points during the five-minute overtime period, the most in an overtime stanza since KU scored 18 against Iowa State in Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 21, 2004.
· Travis Releford’s dunk with 9:19 remaining in the game snapped a span of eight minutes, 29 seconds that KU went without a field goal.
· The Jayhawks made just four field goals in the first 11 minutes of the second half.
· Kansas set season highs in points (97), free throws made (27) and free throws attempted (38).
· Iowa State’s 89 points were the most by a Kansas opponent since Syracuse scored 89 in an overtime win on Nov. 25, 2008. It was the most points scored by a visiting team in Allen Fieldhouse since Baylor scored 90 in a 100-90 loss on Feb. 9, 2008.
· Kansas put a season-high five players in double figures, the most since the team had five in double digits against North Carolina in last season’s NCAA Tournament.
· Iowa State set KU opponent season highs in points (89), points in a half (41 in second half), field goals (30), field goal attempts (73), three-point field goals (14), fouls (29), disqualifications (two), assists (17).
· Freshman G Ben McLemore scored a career-high 33 points, which were the most by a Jayhawk since Marcus Morris tallied 33 points against Iowa State on Jan. 12, 2011.
· His 33 points were the most by a Kansas freshman since Danny Manning scored 35 points against Oklahoma State on March 2, 1985. It was also the second-most points scored by a player in the Big 12 this season.
· McLemore connected on 6-of-6 three-point field goal attempts, marking the best three-point field goal percentage since Rex Walters went 6-for-6 from beyond the arc against Ball State in 2003.
· McLemore also hit 7-for-7 free throws, the most free throws without a miss since Tyshawn Taylor went 8-for-8 from the charity stripe against Texas on March 3 of last season.
· McLemore set career highs in points (33), field goals (10) and three point field goals (six).
· Seniors C Jeff Withey (15 points, 12 rebounds), F Kevin Young (10 points, 12 rebounds) and G Elijah Johnson (12 points, 10 assists) all recorded double-doubles in the game. It was the first time since 2002 that KU has had three double-doubles in a single game, when Nick Collison, Wayne Simien and Keith Langford all accomplished the feat against Florida.
· Johnson’s 10 assists were a career high and the most by a Jayhawk since Tyshawn Taylor dished out 10 dimes against Iowa State on Jan. 28 of last season.
· Johnson’s six rebound were the most since he tallied 10 boards against Ohio State in last year’s NCAA semifinals. His three steals matched a season high.
· Withey recorded his sixth double-double of the season and 12th of his career. His 12 rebounds are tied for his second-highest total of the season.
· Young collected a double-double for the second-straight game. His 12 rebounds were a career high.
· Senior F Travis Releford scored 12 points in the game, marking his 11th-straight game in double figures.
Kansas will play at Texas Tech on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 3 p.m. on the Big 12 Television. The Jayhawks conclude their four games in nine days stretch by returning home to host Baylor on ESPN’s Big Monday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m.