It was close, as Vegas suggested it would be (Kansas closed as a three-point favorite). But the Jayhawks survived another tough game in the type of battle Kansas State wanted to play — slow and muddy. Kansas now takes sole possession of first place in the Big 12 and improves to 17-1 on the season. Here is what we learned tonight:
1. Kansas is learning how to win close games. Or shall I say, Kansas has learned how to win close games. Coming into tonight’s game, here is how the Jayhawks have played down the stretch in close games since losing a three-point game to Michigan State on November 13.
After Bill Self called a full timeout with 4:55 left in the game and a 54-49 lead, Kansas State finished the game 2-of-6 from the field including 0-of-3 from three-point range with a pair of turnovers. It’s fair to criticize close games against Iowa State or Temple at home, but Kansas State is a tough squad this year and Bramlage Coliseum is always rowdy when the Jayhawks are in town. Coming away with a close win is another positive learning experience this Kansas team will need in March.
2. Kansas State’s win over Florida wasn’t a fluke. The Wildcats shot 35.1% from the field and were still within three points of the Jayhawks with 40 seconds left. They held Kansas under its season shooting averages, both from two and three-point range (From two: 48.4% on the year, 45.7% tonight; from three: 36.2% on the year, 30.8% tonight). They have solid wins over Oklahoma State and #8 Florida, and their only losses are to #2 Michigan, #10 Gonzaga, and now #11 Kansas.