Jayhawks outlast Sooners, 70-63, to claim 28th-straight league opener
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Four Jayhawks scored in double-figures as No. 5 Kansas outlasted No. 23 Oklahoma in the Big 12 opener, 70-63, Wednesday night inside Allen Fieldhouse. Freshman guard Devon Dotson scored a game-high 16 points, while redshirt-junior Dedric Lawson posted his ninth double-double of the year with a 13-point, 15-rebound effort as KU claimed its 28th-consecutive conference-opening victory.
The win, Kansas’ 18th-straight over Oklahoma inside Allen Fieldhouse, moved the Jayhawks to 12-1 on the year and 1-0 in Big 12 play, while the Sooners suffered their second loss of the season, now at 11-2 and 0-1 in the league.
The Sooners jumped out on the Jayhawks early, building a 7-0 lead to prompt a timeout from head coach Bill Self. After the stoppage, Kansas came out of the huddle and exploded on a 21-4 run to gain its first lead of the game. The run, capped by a Quentin Grimes 3-pointer, then prompted a timeout from OU coach Lon Kruger with his team suddenly trailing by 10 points, 21-11, just over midway through the first half.
Kruger’s words also motivated his squad as the Sooners were able to trim the KU lead back to striking distance with a quick 7-0 spurt to pull within 21-18 over the next two minutes.
But Kansas put together another back-breaking run over the final six minutes of the opening frame to open up a 15-point advantage at the intermission. Lawson scored the final five points of the 19-7 Jayhawk stretch, including a 3-point play with three seconds left in the half, to send his team into the locker room with a 40-25 lead.
The Jayhawks were unable to carry that momentum over into the second half however, as KU went without a field goal over the first seven minutes following the restart. Oklahoma used this Kansas cold span to whittle down its deficit to just five points, 49-44, with 10:52 to play. Lawson again gave the Jayhawks the lift they needed, connecting on three buckets during a 9-1 KU run get the lead back into double-figures at 58-45.
Oklahoma refused to let the Jayhawks coast to an easy victory as the Sooners again managed to cut the Kansas lead to six points with an 11-4 spurt the had the once comfortable Allen Fieldhouse crowd back to the edge of their seats.
But a key momentum-breaking play from Dotson just seconds later gave the Jayhawks the final push they needed to close out the visitors once and for all. Following a Grimes steal on OU’s end, Dotson took it to the hole for two points and was fouled before completing the 3-point play and pushing the KU lead to 65-56 with 2:35 to play.
From there, five clutch free throws from Charlie Moore and Dotson finished the 70-63 win, the Jayhawks 12th-straight victory in Allen Fieldhouse.
Dotson led the Jayhawks in scoring for the first time in his young career, scoring 16 points to go along with five rebounds and four steals. Grimes scored in double-figures for the second-straight outing with his 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Lawson tallied his 45-career double-double, pulling down a season-high 15 rebounds along with 13 points. Lagerald Vick was the fourth Jayhawk in double-figures, adding 12 points, nine of which came in the first half.
Kansas collected 11 steals on the night to contribute to 22 points off 17 Oklahoma turnovers. The Jayhawks also won the battle of the boards, 40-42, this after OU jumped out of the gates with an early 12-4 rebounding edge in the opening six minutes.
QUOTES – Full Quotes
Kansas head coach Bill Self
“It was just a terrible start to both halves and it wasn’t a lack of effort, we just couldn’t get the ball down and made a couple defensive blunders. But we really guarded them well the first half and got up 15, but then our shot selection became really poor in the second half. We didn’t attack them when we should’ve and then let them hang around there in the second half. We didn’t really get a favorable whistle, I don’t think, getting to the free throw line like we could’ve. There were also some plays that didn’t go our way. It just goes to show you that Quentin (Grimes) loses the ball, then goes and makes the best play he’s made all year by going back and diving for the ball and getting it to Devon (Dotson) for the and-1. That was the best play of the game and certainly the best play he’s made all year so hopefully that will give him some confidence.”
On the freshman duo of Dotson (16 pts) and Grimes (14) picking up the slack of Doke (Udoka Azubuike) and Dedric’s (Lawson) play:
“Dedric got us rebounds and Doke played well the first half, but he didn’t get any touches the second half. The advantage we had was to throw the ball inside and then OU went to the “Hack-A-Doke”, which worked around the six-minute mark. He didn’t play as much the second half and we have to get him in better shape since he’s lost some conditioning. But there were some good things that happened and there were also some things that were pretty apparent that we have to correct, just from a mindset and chemistry standpoint.”
Kansas redshirt-junior forward Dedric Lawson
On freshman guard Quentin Grimes’ big play and what it meant to the rest of the team:
“It was a momentum changer and like he said, we had nothing going. He got the steal and it gave us a little more cushion, a little more room for us to play defense, get rebounds and just knock down free throws.”
On the difference in intensity between nonconference and Big 12 Conference play:
“I thought it was amped up by the fans, the fans brought the energy. We got into a slow start and they got us going with the energy and we took control of the game from there.”
NOTABLES – Full Notes
- The win made Kansas 12-1 and 1-0 in Big 12 play for the 28th-straight season, a streak which started in 1991-92
- KU now has a 148-67 all-time series record against Oklahoma, including 76-16 in meetings in Lawrence and 49-7 in Allen Fieldhouse and 18th-straight in the venue, a streak which started in 1994
- After the Sooners jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start, the Jayhawks countered with a 21-4 run over the next eight minutes to take a 21-11 lead.
- KU tied its season high with 11 steals, contributing to a +8 margin (22-14) in points off of turnovers over OU.
- Kansas did not have a field goal for the first 5:38 of the second half.
- KU’s eight second-half field goals were the fewest in a half since Kansas made seven field goals in the first half against Baylor (2/10/18).
- Kansas’ 42 rebounds marked the seventh time in the 13 games this season that they have recorded 40+ rebounds in a game, matching their total from last season.
- Despite OU leading the Big 12 in rebounds per game with 43.2 and ranking in the top three in rebound margin (+6.0), the Jayhawks recorded a +2.0 margin and outrebounded the Sooners, 42-40.
- The Jayhawks held the Sooners to their second worst shooting performance from behind the arch this season (22.7) and 14 points below their season average (36.9).
- KU held OU to 25 first-half points, a season-low for the Sooners in a half this year.
- Freshman guard Devon Dotson snatched a career high four steals and tied for the most by a Jayhawk this season (Marcus Garrett also had four against Villanova and Stanford).
- Dotson led the team in scoring for the first time this season with 16 points and tied his career high in rebounds (5).
- Udoka Azubuike recorded a block to hit 91 in his career. He is just seven rejections away from tying Paul Pierce at 20th on KU’s all-time blocks list.
- Dedric Lawson tied his season-high with 15 rebounds and scored 13 points on his way to record his ninth double-double of the season and 11th time scoring in double figures.
Kansas plays its first Big 12 road game of the season at Iowa State on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 4 p.m., on ESPN2. Kansas is 181-64 all-time against Iowa State, including a 70-39 advantage in Ames and a 26-21 edge in Hilton Coliseum. The Jayhawks have won the last two clashes with the Cyclones in Hilton.
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