KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Perry Ellis scored 14 points, including the go-ahead basket in the closing minutes, and No. 10 Kansas held on after blowing a 21-point second-half lead to beat No. 13 Utah 63-60 on Saturday.
Jamari Traylor added 13 points and Frank Mason III had 10 for the Jayhawks (8-1), who led 42-21 early in the second half before the Utes (7-2) stormed back to take the lead.
Jakob Poeltl's basket with 4:38 left gave Utah a 55-53 lead, but Mason scored on a driving layup moments later to knot the game. Ellis then swooped through the lane and converted a floater for his only field-goal of the second half to give the Jayhawks the lead back.
Kansas made six straight free throws down the stretch, including two by Brannen Greene with 13.7 seconds left. Utah never got a good look at tying it, settling for an off-balance 3 from 7-foot Poeltl from the corner that was partially blocked.
Delon Wright finished with 23 points for the Utes, who nearly dealt the Jayhawks' the worst blown lead in a loss in school history. Kansas blew a 20-point lead in losing to Arizona in 2003.
The Jayhawks dominated the first half, going on a big charge to take control. Wayne Selden Jr. started it with a 3-pointer, Ellis added his own 3 moments later, and then Kansas outscored the bigger Utes 23-2 over a stretch late in the half.
The Jayhawks managed all of it without backup point guard Devonte' Graham, who could be out until conference play after hurting a toe on his right foot in their win over Georgetown.
Even after a thunderous dunk by Wright to close the half, Kansas still led 39-21 — despite not having a single offensive rebound over the first 20 minutes. Utah was 0 for 7 from the arc in the half, and committed 10 turnovers with just one assist.
Traylor, who returned from a one-game suspension, converted a three-point play to start the second half to give the Jayhawks' their biggest lead of the game.
That's when the Utes began to claw back into it.
Four players scored during a 12-0 run that made it 42-33 with just under 15 minutes to go, and Wright's basket with 12:42 left trimmed the Jayhawks' lead to 48-40.
Kansas coach Bill Self kept burning through his timeouts, but they did about as much as a partisan crowd in lighting a fire under the Jayhawks.
By the time Wright made four consecutive foul shots and Poeltl scored at the basket, the Utes had taken a 55-53 lead — their first since the 9:59 mark of the first half.
The Jayhawks remained poised, scoring the next six points to pull back ahead, and then putting the game away from the foul line.
Utah: Wright had 11 of the Utes' 21 points in the first half. ... Poeltl finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
Kansas: Selden, Ellis and Svi Mykhailiuk were a combined 8 for 8 from the field in the first half. They combined to miss their first eight shots in the second half.
Utah travels to former Mountain West rival UNLV next Saturday.
Kansas returns home to Allen Fieldhouse against Lafayette next Saturday.