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No. 3 KU keeps No. 11 Kansas State out of arm's reach
Big 12 Conference
spt ap McGruder pass
Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder (22) passes around Kansas guard Travis Releford during the first half of a Big 12 basketball game on Tuesday night at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan. - photo by The Associated Press

MANHATTAN — Every time 11th-ranked Kansas State got close, No. 3-ranked Kansas would make a play.

Not even Kansas State shooting guard Shane Southwell's career game could help the Wildcats break Kansas' dominance in Manhattan, either.

Despite Southwell's career-high 19 points, including five 3-pointers, the Jayhawks (17-1, 5-0) extended their nation-leading winning streak to 16 games with a 59-55 victory in Big 12 Conference basketball action on Tuesday night at Bramlage Coliseum. Since it first opened for the 1988-89 season, KU has won 23 of 25 games at Bramlage.

"To Kansas' credit, on both ends of the court, they don't get rattled, they make plays and find ways to win," Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber said. "We relied, obviously, on the 3-ball, 30 of them.

"But it's something they give you. You've got to hit the open ones and then you would make them defend you a little different, but we didn't do that."

In a matchup of the conference's top two teams, Kansas State (15-3, 4-1) shot 30 percent from distance, making only 9 of 30. Southwell, a 6-foot-6 junior from Harlem. N.Y., was 5 for 11 on 3s, but his teammates were a collective 4-for-19.

Kansas State senior guard Rodney McGruder finished with 13 points, 11 coming after halftime, as KU held a 31-27 lead at the break. The Wildcats' top scorer, averaging 15.5 points, McGruder missed eight of 12 shots from the floor, including going 3-for-9 on 3s.

Sophomore point guard Angel Rodriguez scored 12 points — all in the first half — and finished with eight assists for the Wildcats.

KU led 16-8 midway through the first half when all-star redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore was whistled for his second foul and went to the bench at the 9:22 mark.

It seemed to spark Kansas State, which outscored the Jayhawks 11-3 over the next three-plus minutes for a 19-18 lead with 6:24 remaining before halftime.

But, like it would do throughout the game, KU had an answer.

McLemore, a 6-5, 195-pounder and KU's All-America candidate, was held to 11 points and five rebounds in 28 minutes.

"Ben was not a factor offensively," KU head coach Bill Self said.

McLemore still had his moments after halftime. The gifted St. Louis, Mo., native had a tip-in, a 3-pointer and a jumper, coupled with a blocked shot and a big rebound — from the 9:51 mark until 6:53 remained — as the Jayhawks maintained their seven-point lead for much of the second half.

Kansas State carved the deficit down to 56-51 after a power move by Thomas Gipson with 1:45 left, and then made it 56-53 with 37 seconds left after Southwell's driving layup.

But KU freshman guard Naadir Tharpe converted a pair of foul shots with 22 seconds left to make it a two-possession game at 58-53 and effectively putting it out of reach.