LAWRENCE, Kan. - Ben McLemore celebrated his 20th birthday. Jeff Withey celebrated another record. Kansas celebrated things getting back to normal.
After struggling through their longest losing streak in eight years, a maddening three-game skid, the 14th-ranked Jayhawks returned to the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night and took out all their pent-up frustration on instate rival Kansas State.
McLemore, serenaded by the raucous crowd, scored 30 points. Withey had 17 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks to break Greg Ostertag's school record for career rejections. And the high-flying Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3) got back to their winning ways with an 83-62 rout of the 10th-ranked Wildcats (19-5, 8-3), forging a tie with them for first place in the Big 12.
"We just played as a team tonight," Withey said. "We played Kansas basketball."
Played it for the first time in a while.
The Jayhawks had lost three straight for the first time since February 2005, a stretch that included a loss to Texas Christian, which still hasn't defeated anybody else in conference play.
The Jayhawks used two big runs in the first half to take a 47-29 lead at the break, then thwarted every rally the Wildcats tried to muster down the stretch.
Kansas won for the 46th time in the last 49 games between the schools.
"What we were going through is what 99 percent of teams in America go through," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "There's only 1 percent that doesn't go through this kind of stretch. And we're spoiled because it's been a long time since we went through one of these stretches."