Jan. 31, 2010

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Sherron Collins bounced back from a back injury to score on a hard drive with 9 seconds left in overtime, helping No. 2 Kansas pull out a gritty 81-79 win over Kansas State (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) on Saturday night.

Kansas (20-1, 6-0 Big 12) dismantled Missouri on Monday and closed out the rivalry week sweep by winning an epic back-and-forth battle with Kansas State (17-4, 4-3).

Collins hit the floor with 2:44 left in overtime and went to the bench holding his back, then returned just in time to score on a baseline drive and was fouled on the play. He missed the free throw, but Cole Aldrich grabbed the rebound and Brady Morningstar hit two free throws to close out the Jayhawks' 26th win in their last 27 games in Manhattan.

Aldrich had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Marcus Morris added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Collins finished with 16 points.

Kansas State had a chance to win it in regulation, but Kansas' Tyrel Reed stripped a streaking Dominique Sutton at the buzzer. Jacob Pullen had 22 points and Denis Clemente added 13 on 4 of 15 shooting for the Wildcats.

Kansas State had already proven it can win big games. The Wildcats have beaten four ranked teams, including two in nonconference for the first time since 1958-59. The biggest was a 71-62 win over Texas two weeks ago, when the Wildcats muscled the Longhorns out of the No. 1 spot.

The win over the Longhorns, one of the program's biggest, had Bramlage Coliseum shaking from start to finish. Hard as it might be to imagine, the "Octagon of Doom" was filled with more (purple) juice for the Jayhawks.

For one, it was KU. Of all the games on the schedule, Kansas is the one team everyone in the Little Apple loves to hate. The teams have been meeting since 1907, one of the longest-running rivalries in college basketball, and this game had the added drama of being the first since 1958 where both were ranked in the top 15.

The fans had extra time to get lubed for the game, too; ESPN shot its college basketball show inside Bramlage, where more than 8,100 purple patrons yelled and screamed for the cameras before noon.

By the time the game rolled around, they were ready to burst like the balloons and beach balls that floated around the gym.

It was the worth the wait.

Shaking off some early-game jitters, the Jayhawks and Wildcats settled into a rhythm, playing like you'd expect from two top 15 teams. It had all the typical ingredients of a rivalry game, too; the bumping and banging, emotional swings with seemingly every possession.

Kansas had trouble holding onto the ball early but made up for it with superb shooting, opening 5 of 9 from the floor. Kansas State had five offensive rebounds in the first 4 1/2 minutes but couldn't stop Aldrich and Morris, who combined for 17 points and 14 rebounds by halftime.

Fitting for a taught game like this, one point separated the teams at the half, setting up the tense finish.