It was always a possibility. It’s there whenever K-State plays in Manhattan.
The Wildcats had several chances to pull an upset on No. 3 Kansas Monday night — the best of which came when Dean Wade hit a jumper to give the Wildcats a 60-59 lead with 4:42 left, but KU responded with a 10-3 run, never to relinquish the lead in a 74-71 win.
Wade finished with a team-best 20 points, followed by 16 points from Kamau Stokes, 14 from D.J. Johnson and 13 from Wesley Iwundu.
Frank Mason tallied 21 points for KU, which saw its lead trimmed to 72-69 when Stokes canned a 3 with 22 seconds left, but Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham knocked down two free throws to ice things. Iwundu tipped in a miss with 0.1 seconds left, but it was far too late.
The Wildcats (16-8, 5-6 Big 12) fell to Kansas (21-3, 9-2) for the fifth straight time in the series.
It was far from a pretty start from both sides — before Stokes responded to a Landen Lucas dunk with a 3-ball. The Wildcats added five straight points, good for an 8-0 run and an 8-2 lead.
Mason ended the run with an unguarded triple, but the Wildcats responded with one from Wade and a breakaway layup from Brown to stretch their lead back to 13-5.
After an and-1 from Jackson, K-State ripped off a 7-0 run — sending a sold-out Bramlage Coliseum into hysteria — for a 20-8 lead, but that’s when KU began to take care of the ball, snag points off K-State turnovers and score in the half-court.
It started with two easy baskets from KU’s Carlton Bragg, the second of which trimmed the Wildcats’ lead to 20-12. Johnson then scored, but the Jayhawks then got two buckets from Jackson and another easy 3-ball from Mason, amounting to a 7-0 run and a slim 22-19 lead for K-State.
Wade and Mykhailiuk then traded a basket each — Mykhailiuk’s a 3 — before Wade netted his own triple via his own offensive rebound, stretching K-State’s lead back to 27-22.
The Jayhawks notched the game’s next three baskets, the first a Lagerald Vick flush off a slick Lucas pass, he second a layup from Mason, and the third a layup from Bragg. Kansas seized just its second lead of the game — after leading 2-0.
Iwundu and Jackson then traded layups before Bragg grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed Jackson free throw and kicked it out to Graham, who canned a 3, enough for a 33-29 Kansas lead.
Jackson handed his KU team its largest lead of the game at 37-31 with a layup, but Stokes soon responded with a 3. Iwundu hit a free throw, cutting K-State’s deficit to 37-35 at the break.
Jackson and Stokes each began the second-half scoring with a triple, but Jackson nailed another on KU’s ensuing possession, and Lucas threw down a dunk over Johnson. Mason then threaded a jumper to balloon his team’s lead to 47-38, capping a 7-0 Jayhawk run.
Johnson and Wade both gave K-State baskets to shave the KU advantage to 47-42.
Both teams swapped buckets from there — that is, until K-State secured a mini 4-0 run to pull within 53-50.
It was Stokes who hit a free throw for K-State’s 50th point, but Jackson was responsible for the foul — his fourth — sending him to the bench with 9:56 left.
He didn’t return until just over the 5-minute mark of the half, a stretch in which the Wildcats pulled back and hovered within one and two points. Brown hit a layup and Wade hit a jumper, but that’s when KU pulled away for good. Mason was largely responsible.
He first nailed a pair of free throws before splashing a jumper, but Wade tied things at 63 with 2:53 to play. From there, though, KU recorded six straight points for a 69-63 lead with 1:44 left.
Stokes hit a triple in the waning seconds, but KU thrust the nail in the coffin by virtue of Graham’s two free throws.
K-State now turns its attention to a road tilt with No. 13 West Virginia on Saturday.