Jayhawk Insider: A Sprint to the Finish
By Hadyn Krause
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The gut check moments haven’t always gone the Jayhawks’ way this season. KU’s young squad has seen leads slip away, harmful turnovers and key minutes won by the opponent in late-game situations this season. But on Monday night, this script was rewritten.
With a confident and hot-shooting Iowa State team holding an eight-point lead early in the second half, Kansas found itself needing a second-half surge that has not rarely come for the Jayhawks in 2018-19. But a drive to the basket and lay-in by senior Lagerald Vick, a 14-0 Kansas run began that sent Kansas on an impressive sprint to the finish and an eventual Big Monday win.
“It was after the 12-minute media timeout, Coach (Self) said to win the next four minutes,” said redshirt-junior forward Dedric Lawson. “We went out there and we competed, and we rebounded. Marcus (Garrett) got the rebound and then he came down and scored.
According to freshman guard Devon Dotson, defense was the game changer in how the team was able to manipulate the lead that Iowa State carried for a large portion of the game.
“I felt like it was great,” said Dotson. “They were moving the ball so well, it felt like the ball was moving from corner to corner. We almost couldn’t guard it until Coach (Self) made the switch. (Then) We were able to guard and contain them.”
As Iowa State’s offense was electric all night, it took a team effort to be able to stop the Cyclones consistently.
“(We) Just (had to) come together and make stops” said sophomore guard Marcus Garrett. “Coach (Self) made a great adjustment during the game that actually helped us go on that run, to make stops.”
While defense was a large part of being able to make Kansas’ 14-0 run happen, the offense stepped up greatly.
“I thought we had key possessions down the stretch,” said Dotson. “We locked in, buckled down and really wanted to get that win. We made some key plays on the offensive end, players stepped up and we came out with the win.”
When it comes down to closing out the game for the Jayhawks, it is significant that at least one player needs to step up and make plays happen. On Monday night, it was a group effort as Lawson, Garrett and Vick made key plays down the stretch, combining for 36 points in the second frame.
“Then we got another stop and I think it was Lagerald who hit a big shot, K.J. (Lawson) hit a big shot, Marcus drove, and all the momentum changed” said Lawson. “We threw the lob, then we were up and they called a timeout. When we go on runs like that, we just need to keep going and finish the game. (Iowa State) is a great team, give credit to them. They were making shots when they needed to and they made plays when they needed to.”
As Allen Fieldhouse roared, the Jayhawks came together to secure the win.
Close games are all too familiar for the Jayhawk Nation this season, with 11 of KU’s 19 games being decided by seven points or fewer, including each of the last four. The Jayhawks have yet to be in a game in conference play so far where the point margin is ten or above.
As the season goes on, this Kansas team will look to further close the gap each game as the road to the Big 12 title continues, seeking out how they can keep finding their spark when it comes down to the wire.
The top-two all-time winningest programs in college basketball history will meet for the seventh time in the last 10 seasons when Kansas journeys into Rupp Arena to take on the Kentucky Wildcats as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 26. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m. (CT) on ESPN. The game will also be the site of ESPN College Gameday. It will mark the 17th time KU has been part of a College Gameday contest.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.