LAWRENCE, Kan. — Freshman Ben McLemore had a career-high 33 points, including a tying 3-pointer with a second left in regulation, and No. 6 Kansas rallied to beat Iowa State 97-89 in overtime Wednesday night.
McLemore was 10 of 12 from the field and perfect on six 3-pointers for the Jayhawks (13-1, 1-0 Big 12), who scored the first nine points of overtime to wrap up their 12th straight win.
The eight-time defending Big 12 champions sure were tested, though.
Iowa State (10-4, 0-1) poured in 14 3-pointers, and had forged a 79-76 lead with 8.4 seconds left in regulation. But the Jayhawks' Elijah Johnson found McLemore on the wing, and he banked in a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc with a single tick on the clock to force overtime.
McLemore added another 3-pointer to open the extra 5 minutes, and Travis Releford and Jeff Withey made five consecutive free throws to help put the game away.
Withey finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Jayhawks, who haven't lost a league opener since the 1991-92 season. Johnson and Releford added 12 points each as Kansas won its 22nd straight conference opener and 30th in a row at Allen Fieldhouse.
Melvin Ejim had 19 points and Korie Lucious added 15 for the Cyclones, though he missed the front end of a one-and-one late in the game that could have helped Iowa State secure the win.
Will Clyburn finished with 16 points, Georges Niang had 13 and Chris Babb and Tyrus McGee scored 11 each for the Cyclones, who have lost 13 of their last 14 to the Jayhawks.
Iowa State came into the game leading the Big 12 in scoring, and its hoist-a-3 offense was at work from the opening minute, when Niang poured in two quick shots from beyond the arc.
Johnson matched him with two 3-pointers of his own, and that began a back-and-forth 20 minutes that featured nine lead changes. The Cyclones never led by more than five, early in the half, while Kansas managed to build a comfortable cushion in the closing minutes.
McLemore's two 3-pointers a minute apart gave Kansas a 40-32 lead and forced Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg – no stranger to long-distance shooting – to call a timeout with 1:52 remaining.
The Cyclones responded by pulling within 42-38 at the break – certainly a better performance than their last time out, when they trailed Yale 35-27 at halftime.
Kansas managed to extend its lead to 48-40 in the opening minutes of the second half, but that's when the Cyclones' half-court defense buckled down. The Jayhawks went their next seven possessions without scoring, turning it over three times and failing to get an offensive board.
That allowed the Cyclones to embark on a 12-1 run, which included 3-pointers on consecutive trips by Babb deep on the wing. The second one gave Iowa State a 54-49 lead with 13 minutes left.
The only points Kansas scored for nearly nine minutes came on three free throws.
The drought finally ended when Withey stepped in front of a pass on the wing, tipped the loose ball ahead to Releford, and he dunked to get Kansas back within one.
Hoiberg quickly called a timeout, and that served to quiet the crowd.
Iowa State refused to let the Jayhawks wrestle control of the game, hitting a big shot to answer everything the reigning conference champs had to offer. Lucious had two 3-pointers down the stretch, and another from McGee from well beyond the arc made it 73-67 with 3:59 left.
The Jayhawks closed to 73-71 on a basket by Withey and free throws by Naadir Tharpe, but Ejim scored on a put-back and then answered McLemore's driving layup with another basket that allowed the Cyclones to cling to a 77-73 with under a minute remaining.
Johnson made the second of two free throws, and Kansas quickly fouled Lucious. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Johnson's driving layup made it 77-76 with 14.5 seconds left.
Lucious was fouled again with 8.4 seconds left, and this time he made both of his attempts to restore a three-point cushion. But with time winding down, Johnson found McLemore coming open on the wing, and the freshman banked in the shot of the night as Allen Fieldhouse erupted.