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The 7-footer did knock down a hook at the 5-minute mark, giving the Jayhawks what amounted to a comfortable lead in this one -- five points.
Not comfortable enough.
Michigan State scored the next eight points. Harris swished a jumper, then darted into the lane to flip in a one-hander. Nix hit a pair of free throws on separate trips to the line, putting the Spartans ahead. Then, after Withey fumbled away an errant pass from Johnson, Branden Dawson hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead with just over 2 minutes remaining.
Johnson finally snapped the run, drawing a foul on Harris and hitting both free throws.
But the senior guard also missed a big jumper in the closing minutes and felt he let his team down.
"I put that all on me," Johnson said. "Coach put the ball in my hands and I didn't do a great job."
The globe-trotting Spartans opened the season against UConn at an Air Force hanger in Germany. They were still a long way from home but at least playing in a bit more of a conventional venue, albeit one that is normally used by the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
"We got a little bit of our pride and character back after not playing well over there," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "The trip wasn't easy. It shows we have a lot of character."
Kansas is hoping to get back to Atlanta in April and go one win farther than last season, when the Jayhawks lost to Kentucky in the national championship game.
The game was close throughout, with a dozen ties and 11 lead chances. Kansas had the biggest lead, a 45-38 edge on Naadir Tharpe's 3-pointer with 12:02 remaining.
Kansas led 35-32 lead at the half and went to the locker room on a bit of a high, spurred on by a thunderous dunk by Jamari Traylor in the final minute. Johnson darted into the lane and missed, but Traylor, coming up from behind, slammed it through with his right hand to spark the Kansas contingent.
Harris led the Spartans in the first half with 11 points. Johnson and McLemore had seven apiece for the Jayhawks before the break.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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