MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Ochai Agbaji hit a baseline jumper with 9 seconds left to lift No. 7 Kansas over Kansas State 78-75 Saturday.
Agbaji’s shot gave Kansas its first lead since early in the first half and snapped K-State’s two-game winning streak against ranked foes. Agbaji scored 29 points.
Kansas, which continues to dominate against its in-state rival, didn’t take the win for granted.
“They should have won today,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “They controlled the game. They were better than us today.
“We weren’t very good in the first half, but they were a lot better than we were bad. They should be 6-1 or 5-2 in the conference.”
Jalen Wilson added 16 points for Kansas (16-2, 5-1 Big 12), and Christian Braun and David McCormack with 11 each.
An emotional Self praised his team’s toughness. Self lost his father, Bill Self Sr., to a long illness Friday morning. He said he didn’t want his players to “win one” for him, but the Jayhawks weren’t about to lose.
“We knew it meant a lot,” Agbaji said. “We went out in the second half and battled. I’m glad that we could get the win for him.”
Kansas State (10-8, 2-5) wasted a career-high 35 points by Nijel Pack. Markquis Nowell had 16 and Selton Miguel added 11.
“We really don’t want any moral victories,” Pack said. “It was great (to have a great game), but it doesn’t mean anything. We got a loss.”
Self said it should matter.
“He was a first-team All-American today,” he said. “He may have been the best guard in America today, but we may have had the best wing in America (in Agbaji).”
Kansas made just 15 of 22 free throws in the second half but was saved by a 45-23 rebounding advantage.
“We knew it was going to be a grind,” Wilson said. “We had to take advantage of our size. I feel like we wanted it more.”
K-State’s shot 10 of 26 from 3-point range.
“Obviously it hurts,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “Our guys were ready to play and we played at a magical level. We just didn’t finish. We let a great opportunity slip by.”
Kansas cut a 16-point halftime deficit in half before the first media timeout of the second half with a 9-0 run. K-State got it back to 10 points, but the Jayhawks cut it to four and had multiple chances to trim it even further.
Wilson hit two free throws with 6:51 left to cut it to 65-63. Pack hit his eighth 3-pointer to give K-State a five-point lead. K-State still led by five with 1:39 left. McCormack hit two free throws to cut it to three, and Agbaji hit two free throws with 55.4 left to pull within one.
Nowell missed a 3 at the other end before Agbaji’s go-ahead jumper. Pack missed another 3 with five seconds left, Agbaji grabbed the rebound and made two free throws with a second left.
Kansas: Kansas still feels comfortable in Manhattan. The Jayhawks are 30-5 all-time in Bramlage Coliseum. The Jayhawks also have won 14 of the last 15 games between the two clubs.
Kansas State: The Wildcats proved they could play with the big boys, but they just couldn’t hold the lead long enough. Four of their five losses have come by a combined 11 points.
Kansas hosts No. 18 Texas Tech on Monday.
Kansas State travels to Waco, Texas, Tuesday to face No. 5 Baylor.
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