Kansas City, MO – Ben McLemore scored 21 points on Friday night to lead four Kansas players in double figures, as the 10th-ranked Jayhawks held off Oregon State, 84-78, at Sprint Center.
Travis Releford followed with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Jeff Withey donated 17 points and Kevin Young poured in 10 for the Jayhawks (6-1), who have won five straight since a Nov. 13 loss to Michigan State.
"Travis played great in the second half," Kansas coach Bill Self said of Releford. "I thought he played beyond awful in the first half. He played about as bad as he's played in a few years. He finally got mad at someone, maybe it was me, and he started to attack the hole. In the second half he got a lot of easy baskets."
Ahmad Starks nailed seven 3-pointers en route to a game-high 25 points to pace Oregon State (4-2), which had won two straight.
Holding a slim 42-39 edge after 20 minutes, the Jayhawks opened the second half on a 15-5 surge, which Withey capped with a three-point play to press the margin to 57-44 just under five minutes into the half.
The lead was 12 later in the half after a Young free throw before the Beavers ripped off nine straight points to pull within 64-61.
Kansas quickly distanced itself however, as the Jayhawks scored the next eight points to build a double-digit advantage with 6 1/2 minutes left.
Oregon State pulled within 78-73 late on a Starks triple, and after Young missed a pair at the line with 30 seconds remaining, Devon Collier finished a dunk to trim the margin to 80-77 with 15 seconds on the clock.
The Jayhawks, though, hit their final four free throws to hang on for the victory.
"We were really able to test ourselves against one of the best in the country," Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said of playing the Jayhawks. "If you want to beat a team like Kansas, you can't miss as many foul shots as we did and you can't miss as many easy shots around the basket as we did."
Kansas led 37-24 with 4:28 remaining in the first half, but Olaf Schaftenaar buried a 3-pointer, sparking a 13-0 Oregon State run to knot the game with 2:18 remaining.
Kansas countered with five straight before Challe Barton's layup sent the Beavers into the break facing a three-point deficit.
Collier finished with 12 points and five boards for the Beavers ... Oregon State shot 45 percent (9-for-20) from three-point range ... Kansas shot 60 percent (33-for-55) from the field.