LAWRENCE — Kansas played a near perfect first half, and the large cushion became necessary as the lead melted away.
The Jayhawks were never seriously threatened in an 81-66 victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday, but the play was poor enough to make home crowd feel uneasy.
A 27-point halftime lead had melted to 12. And even after Kansas reconstructed a 19-point bulge, back came the Cowboys with another mini-run.
But in the end, the Kansas big men were too much to handle.
Jeff Withey was especially potent with 18 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocked shots. The effort followed a 25-point performance earlier in the week at Baylor.
Thomas Robinson powered for 24 points and 14 rebounds as the Jayhawks outrebounded the Cowboys 50-21.
Seventh-ranked Kansas (20-5, 10-2 Big 12) hits the road Monday to face Kansas State.
Nothing went wrong for the Jayhawks in the first half. Kansas even had a ball go in off the noggin of Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash. The score was recorded as a team basket.
But after gaining a 29-point lead early in the second half, the Jayhawks succumbed to Oklahoma State pressure and the Cowboys pecked away.
Markel Brown and Keiton Page sparked the comeback and each finished with 19 points.
When Nash scored inside with 6:45 remaining, the Kansas lead was down to 68-56.
It was as close as Oklahoma State got as the Jayhawks answered with seven straight points, capped by Robinson’s three-point play.
Oklahoma State (12-13, 5-7) outscored Kansas 42-30 in the second half.