LAWRENCE, Kan. – Thomas Robinson had a career-high 26 points to go with 11 rebounds, Jeff Withey came within one blocked shot of a triple-double and No. 13 Kansas held off Long Beach State 88-80 on Tuesday night after blowing a big first-half lead.
Connor Teahan also had a career-high 14 points for the Jayhawks (6-2), who established a 19-point lead on the Big West favorites in the first half before sloppy passes, senseless fouls and generally poor shooting allowed Long Beach State to climb back into the game.
The 49ers (4-4), who have already knocked off then-No. 6 Pittsburgh on the road, closed within 77-72 with 3:01 remaining on a 3-pointer and two free throws by James Ennis.
Tyshawn Taylor answered after two offensive rebounds when he was fouled on a scoop layup. The three-point play gave Kansas some breathing room, and Withey added another three-point play moments later to make it 83-72. The Jayhawks managed to drain the remaining time off the clock.
T.J. Robinson had 19 points, and Ennis and Casper Ware each had 16 for the 49ers, who also played then-No. 6 Louisville tough on the road and will visit fourth-ranked North Carolina on Saturday.
Withey finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Taylor — the Jayhawks' starting point guard — came off the bench because of what a team spokesman called a "coach's decision" and finished with 12 points. Travis Releford added 10 points despite a poor shooting night.
Early on, it looked as if the Jayhawks would merely be tuning up for Saturday's date with No. 2 Ohio State at Allen Fieldhouse.
They should have known better: Long Beach State won on the Jayhawks' home court in their last meeting back in 1993, when Kansas went on to the Final Four under Roy Williams.
Robinson led the Jayhawks on a 16-4 run to start the game, showing that he can score from all over the floor. He made a couple inside to force the Long Beach State defense to collapse on him, and then went outside to knock down a pair of 18-footers just moments apart.
The Jayhawks' lead ballooned to 34-15 with 9:31 remaining when Robinson scored on consecutive possessions and Teahan knocked down his fourth 3-pointer, but Long Beach State showed off its veteran poise by keeping things from getting out of hand. Edis Dervisevic scored in the paint with 2:31 left in the half, trimming the lead to 41-32 and sending Kansas coach Bill Self tearing into his bench.
That's when Robinson showed just how versatile he's become.
First, he took a feed from Kevin Young and powered home a dunk. Then he returned the favor by finding Young, who was fouled on a drive to the basket and converted a three-point play. And then the big fella helped set up a three-point play by Elijah Johnson that capped a scoring flurry.
Kansas wound up with a 51-39 lead at halftime. Robinson was 8 of 8 from the field and perfect on both of his throws to go along with six rebounds, and the Jayhawks shot 58.8 percent as a team.
They didn't come close to that number in the second half.
The biggest problem was turnovers — the Jayhawks wound up with 22 of them, and it was everyone getting into the act. Nobody in the lineup had more than five, though four different players had at least four, and Long Beach managed to turn several of them into easy baskets.
Just not enough of them in the closing minutes to pull out the win.