Fourteenth-ranked Kansas delivered that statement Monday night with an 83-62 victory over the 10th-ranked Wildcats at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3 Big 12) beat their instate rival for 46th time in 49 games in the series. Kansas snapped a three-game losing streak and pulled into a tie for first place in the conference standings with Kansas State (19-5, 8-3). Oklahoma State sits in third place at 7-3.
"It is going to be more difficult to win the league than it ever has been with where we still have to go and the games that we have remaining, but we're in the game," Kansas coach Bill Self said.
Playing a rival on national television was the perfect remedy for the Jayhawks, who were reeling from consecutive losses to Oklahoma State, TCU and Oklahoma. Freshman Ben McLemore, who was celebrating his 20th birthday, led the way with 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He hit six 3-pointers before checking out to a raucous ovation.
"I felt like my teammates definitely got me in the zone, especially from 3, finding me on the wing and just creating," McLemore said. "They were just getting me open, and it was great.
"Last week was a bad week, but this is a new week for us."
Center Jeff Withey added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Jayhawks, and forward Kevin Young scored 13.
Rodney McGruder led Kansas State with 20 points and six rebounds, and Angel Rodriguez added 17 points.
"The only disappointing thing was our defense, our toughness and our discipline were not there today," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "I thought we would have competed a little better. It should have been more of a game."