LAWRENCE — Svi Mykhailiuk claimed he had no idea whether he traveled during his coast-to-coast, buzzer-beating layup that gave No. 3 Kansas a dramatic 90-88 victory over Kansas State on Tuesday night.
Wildcats coach Bruce Weber couldn’t have been more certain.
“I think everybody knows what happened. Want to see my phone? There’s a hundred (messages),” Weber said. “Everybody knows what happened. I mean, it’s obvious. The TV people came up to me. Everyone.”
Indeed, replays showed Mykhailiuk picking up his dribble shy of midcourt and taking four massive strides to the basket. But the officiating crew of Mike Stuart, Ray Natali and Keith Kimble never blew a whistle, and traveling calls are not covered by instant replay.
The game was over. Even if the controversy was certain to continue.
“Svi showed some athletic ability there at the end,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I haven’t seen it. I don’t’ know if he walked or not. I know everybody said he did. He may have, I don’t know. But it still was a heck of an athletic play to get all the way to the hole.”
Josh Jackson matched a career high with 22 points to go with nine rebounds and six assists, and Landen Lucas added 18 points and 12 rebounds, as the Jayhawks (13-1, 2-0 Big 12) pushed their home winning streak to 50 in one of the closest games during that incredible streak.
“It was a great play by Svi,” Lucas said of the final play, which broke down on the inbounds. “It wasn’t exactly what we drew up, but he improvised and made it happen.”
The Wildcats (13-2, 1-1) had the first chance to take the lead in the final seconds, but Dean Wade missed a 3-pointer and the ball bounced out of bounds with 5.6 ticks left on the clock.
Kansas struggled to get the ball inbounds, but once it got into Mykhailiuk’s hands, he used his long stride to carry him down the court — four of them, as it turned out. His winning basket gave him 11 points for the game, not to mention kept Self from losing to Kansas State for the second time at home.
Wade matched a career high with 20 points. Wesley Iwundu finished with 17, Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown added 13 points apiece, and D.J. Johnson had 10.
The Wildcats have often been shell-shocked by the Phog, the early minutes taking them right out of the game. But they never appeared to be intimidated by the atmosphere Tuesday night.
In fact, it was Kansas State that raced to a 21-13 lead in the opening minutes.
The Wildcats eventually cooled down from beyond the arc, where they hit four of their first five shots, and Kansas began to claw back. A big run midway through the half allowed the Jayhawks to take the lead, and they hit nine of their last 10 shots to forge a 52-42 halftime advantage.
Kansas never trailed the rest of the way.
Kansas State never made it easy.
The Wildcats used a five-point trip thanks in part to a technical foul on Jackson to trim into a 56-48 deficit. Then, Johnson single-handedly got Lucas into foul trouble by bulldozing for baskets, robbing the Jayhawks of their best interior player for much of the half.
Kansas State finally tied the game 84-all when Brown scored high off the glass in transition, but the Jayhawks went right back to Lucas, whose inside basket made it 86-84 with 1:27 to go.
Back and forth it went: Stokes answered with two free throws — par for the course in a foul-filled game — only for Lucas to get his revenge by fouling out Johnson at the other end. And after his two free throws, Iwundu’s basket tied it at 88 with 49 seconds to go.
That set up the final, frantic play that ultimately overshadowed everything else.
Kansas State nearly aced its toughest test of the season, and may gain more in a close loss than it did in compiling a glossy non-conference record against low-level fodder.
Kansas has won two close games to open conference play, quickly finding that the path to its 13th consecutive Big 12 championship could be tougher than expected.
STATS AND STREAK
Kansas shot 53.2 percent while Kansas State shot 50.8 percent. … Each team had 33 rebounds. … Mason was 4 of 5 from beyond the arc but matched a season high with five turnovers. … Wade missed all three of his 3-point attempts. … The Wildcats only committed nine turnovers. … The 88 points are the second-most scored by the Wildcats in Allen Fieldhouse. They scored 91 on Feb. 7, 1962.
Kansas State returns home to face former coach Lon Kruger and Oklahoma on Saturday.
Kansas welcomes Texas Tech to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday night.