Second-Half Comeback Fuels Kansas Past Kansas State, 78-75

Courtesy of Kansas Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Despite trailing by 16 at halftime, No. 7 Kansas marched back behind a last-second Ochai Agbaji lay-in to take down the Kansas State Wildcats in the Dillons Sunflower Showdown, 78-75, inside Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday.

Kansas improves to 16-2 (5-1) this season and were led by Agbaji, who scored a team-high 29 points on 10-of-18 from the field, including a game-winning lay-in with just eight seconds remaining. The Jayhawks ended the game on a 9-0 run to finish off its largest halftime deficit that led to a Jayhawk victory since at least the 1996-97 season.

Kansas State found its rhythm early on Saturday and carried it throughout the first half, shooting 59.4 percent (19-of-32) from the floor and 50 percent (7-of-14) from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes. K-State’s Nigel Pack had the hot hand for the Wildcats, leading in scoring with 22 points at the break including 8-of-10 from three, leading the Wildcats to a 50-34 first half lead.

The Jayhawks fought back after the break, forcing the Wildcats into some tough possessions, which led to an 11-0 run over the span of just under four minutes. During that span, Agbaji scored five points, paired with four from Jalen Wilson, which trimmed the K-State lead to 55-49 with 14:33 remaining.

Both teams battled the next six minutes, as the Jayhawks brought the score to within two points at 65-63 with just 6:51 remaining in the game.

Trailing 75-70 with 1:38 remaining, David McCormack was sent to the line following a foul, which he connected on both free throws to make the score 75-72.

On the ensuing K-State possession, the Jayhawks forced the Wildcats into a deep 2-pointer, leading to Agbaji getting fouled in transition by K-State’s Selton Miguel on a 3-point attempt, resulting in two made free throws from Agbaji to make it a one-point game at 75-74 with 55 seconds remaining.

After Kansas State missed a pair of shots, Agbaji drove the lane and connected on a layup with just nine seconds to go to put Kansas up, 76-75. Kansas State’s Nigel Pack attempted a 3-pointer but missed, resulting in Agbaji getting fouled and being sent to the line to finish off the Wildcats, 78-75.

As a team, Kansas shot 44.1 percent (26-of-59) from the field and were led by four players in double-figures, including Agbaji (29 pts.), Wilson (16 pts.), McCormack (11 pts.) and Christian Braun (11 pts.). McCormack also pulled down 15 rebounds, tied for the most in his career and marking his 12th career-game with 10+ boards.

Kansas will turn its focus to Texas Tech, who they welcome to Lawrence on Monday, January 25. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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