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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Just a few days ago, Kansas State lived by the 3-pointer in a win over Oklahoma.
On Tuesday night, the outside shot cost the Wildcats against bitter rival Kansas.
Unable to get into the lane all night against the Jayhawks' dominant center Jeff Withey, the Wildcats resorted to taking 30 3-point attempts, making just nine. A couple more makes and the outcome may have been different in No. 11 Kansas State' 59-55 loss to the third-ranked Jayhawks.
"You've got to hit the open ones, then you would make them defend you a little different," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "But we didn't."
Travis Releford scored 12 points, and Withey and Ben McLemore added 11 each for the Jayhawks (17-1, 5-0 Big 12), who pushed their nation-leading winning streak to 16 games — matching the third-longest under coach Bill Self — and ended the Wildcats' 12-game home winning streak.
"To Kansas' credit, they make plays," Weber said. "They don't get rattled."
The Wildcats kept the game close by getting Withey into foul trouble with 13 minutes left, and by limiting the Jayhawks to six fast-break points, but that wasn't enough to overcome Kansas State's 35.1 percent shooting.
Shane Southwell, who scored a career-high 19 points, got Kansas State (15-3, 4-1) within 56-53 with a scooping layup with 38.2 seconds left. But after Naadir Tharpe made two foul shots to restore the Jayhawks' five-point lead, the Wildcats' Rodney McGruder misfired from beyond the arc at the other end.
McLemore was fouled and missed his free throw, and McGruder made two to get Kansas State within 58-55 with 5 seconds left. But Elijah Johnson's free throw put the game away.
McGruder finished with 13 points and Angel Rodriguez had 12, all in the first half, as the Wildcats lost for the 45th time in 48 games against their bitter in-state rival.
They also fell to 2-23 against Kansas at Bramlage Coliseum.
"I'm a little upset that we lost that game," McGruder said quietly. "That's the last time I will play them here at Bramlage. But Coach said you can't keep your head down. We've got a lot of basketball left."
Kansas State, which had its eight-game winning streak end, returns Saturday at Iowa State.
The atmosphere was amped long before the opening tip. Students on their first day back from winter break lined up for several hundred yards in freezing temperatures, and then flooded seats on one side of the building more than 2 hours before the game started.
"It's a lot of fun, a hostile environment," Withey said. "It's one of the best crowds we're going to get besides our own crowd."
The Jayhawks, undaunted by the pulsating crowd, methodically built a 16-8 lead midway through the first half. Kansas took advantage of some balky outside shooting by the Wildcats, and routinely beat them off the dribble at the other end for easy baskets around the rim.
McLemore picked up his second foul of the half with 9:22 left, though, and Kansas State went on a run. Martavious Irving started the 11-2 spurt with a scooping layup and Southwell ended it with a 3-pointer from the wing that gave Kansas State a 19-18 lead.
Self called a quick timeout, settling down the senior-laden Jayhawks.
Perry Ellis scored a couple of baskets around a shot clock-beating jumper by Tharpe to help Kansas retake the lead, and Kevin Young's putback off his own miss made it 31-27 at halftime.
"It just came down to making plays at key moments," Self said. "There were several plays like that that allowed us to keep our distance."
McGruder, shadowed everywhere by Releford, only managed two points on a soaring jam just before halftime. He missed both of his outside shots as the Wildcats went 4 for 16 from the arc.
The Big 12's reigning player of the week finally hit a 3 to start the second half, but Kansas answered with eight straight points, including a dunk by Withey off a feed from Young that forced Weber to burn his first timeout of the half.
McGruder hit consecutive 3s later in the half to help keep the Wildcats close, but a 3 from the corner by McLemore and then an open jumper by the freshman with 6:50 to go gave the Jayhawks a 53-43 lead, the first time the margin had reached double figures all game.
Southwell shot the Wildcats back in it, hitting a jumper with 8:13 left and then consecutive 3-pointers — his fourth and fifth of the game — to make it 54-49 with 5:30 remaining.
But the Jayhawks managed to do just enough down the stretch to turn back the Wildcats, who won't have another chance against Kansas until they meet Feb. 11 at Allen Fieldhouse.
"We've got to start getting some wins against them," Southwell said. "We've got another chance at them, but we're focused on Iowa State."