LAWRENCE | The Kansas Jayhawks built a 21-point second-half lead and checked out for the day.
The Colorado Buffaloes never stopped playing, and that seemingly insurmountable KU lead became two.
The Jayhawks clocked back in just in time to hold on for a 66-61 victory that will leave many of the 16,300 fans at Allen Fieldhouse with a sour taste in their mouths.
Sure, a win is a win, particularly in the Big 12 Conference.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
But this was supposed to be an exhibition of KU’s recent improvement, displayed in two road victories at Iowa State and Nebraska.
It ended up being a sign that the Jayhawks still have a long way to go on the way to a possible fifth straight conference title.
KU, now 17-4 and 6-0 in the Big 12, had the ball leading 62-59 and 28 seconds showing on the clock.
The Jayhawks inbounded the ball with four seconds left on the shot clock to Sherron Collins, who drove and made a floater that pretty much sealed the victory.
Collins would have to make two more free throws, which extended his streak of made freebies to 29.
The Buffaloes had cut the Jayhawks’ 46-25 lead to 54-52, shocking everyone in the old barn.
Tyrel Reed hit yet another big 3-pointer to start an 8-0 KU run to put the Jayhawks up 10. But Colorado embarked on a 7-0 run of its own.
For the first time in Big 12 play, the Jayhawks shot less than 50 percent from the field.
KU made just 41 percent (21 of 51) and five of 21 3-point attempts.
Collins had a forgettable day until the end. He finished with 11 points and four assists but shot four-of-16 and one-of-10 from three.
The Jayhawks were saved by their inside play, led by Cole Aldrich’s 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Aldrich finally got some help from the Morris twins, who combined for 16 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Markieff Morris scored 10 points, his first double-figure outing as a college player.