Jayhawks storm past Cowboys in second half, 84-72
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A flurry of second-half 3-pointers helped the No. 13/14 Kansas Jayhawks fend off the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 84-72, Saturday afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse. Redshirt-junior Dedric Lawson posted a game-high 25 points, 18 of which came in the second half, while freshman Ochai Agbaji connected on a career-high five 3-pointers to help the Jayhawks to their 17th-straight victory in Lawrence.
The win moved Kansas to 18-6 on the year and 7-4 in the Big 12, while the Cowboys dropped to 9-14 and 2-8 in league play.
With the game knotted up at 49-49 and 14:08 to play in regulation, Kansas was seemingly unable to land the knockout blow to a pesky Oklahoma State squad that continued to counter each Jayhawk run. But a group of KU freshmen erupted on a shooting exhibition that handed KU a lead that it would not relinquish. The tie score lasted for approximately 10 seconds as Devon Dotson sprinted down the floor and sliced to the rim for two of his 18 points to put the lead back in the hands of the Jayhawks.
After OSU’s Cameron McGriff brought the Cowboys to within two points with 12:32 to play, 53-51, the Jayhawk shooters took over to help KU finally put some distance between themselves and the visitors. Freshmen guards Agbaji and Quentin Grimes hit two 3-pointers apiece on a 12-0 Kansas run to get the Jayhawk lead to double digits for the first time of the day, 65-51, midway through the second half.
Lawson then took over the scoring load, as the Memphis, Tennessee native scored 10 of his team’s next 11 points in the next five minutes of game action. The All-American candidate swished a pair of 3-pointers during that run as the Jayhawk lead was pushed to its largest of the game, 76-58, with 5:00 to go in regulation.
Dotson finsihed the day with four-straight free throws and a lay-up as the Jayhawks closed out the 84-72 win and moved to 14-0 at home this season.
The Jayhawks had a tough time pulling away from the Cowboys over the first 20 minutes of action. Despite Agbaji hitting a trio of 3-pointers in the first frame, KU was unable to build a lead of more than six points throughout the half. It was a fast start for the Jayhawks, who sprinted out to a 7-2 lead behind a steal and dunk from Dotson and a 3-pointer from Lawson.
Another quick 7-2 spurt two minutes later saw KU push its advantage to 14-8; however, OSU had an answer as a Lindy Waters’ triple ignited a 7-0 run that gave his team its first lead of the game, 15-14, with 12 minutes to play in the half.
Kansas got its lead to five points, 33-28, with just over two minutes to play before the break, but an 8-3 Cowboy run to close the half knotted up the score at 36-36 as the two squads headed to the locker room.
But the Jayhawks turned in six 3-pointers in the second half and outrebounded the Cowboys by a tally of 25-12 in the final 20 minutes to turn a halftime tie into a 12-point victory.
Lawson hit the 20-point plateau for the 13th time this season, scoring 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He also added seven rebounds and five assists. Agbaji posted his second-career 20-point outing with 23 points and a season-best five 3-pointers. Dotson was the third Jayhawk in double-figures, posting 18 points for his third-straight game scoring in double-figures.
Junior Mitch Lightfoot added a season-high nine rebounds and a pair of blocks in 20 minutes to along with his six points.
QUOTES – Full Quotes
Kansas head coach Bill Self
“It wasn’t always pretty. The first half we played better than the score. We counted six times with under five seconds on the shot clock that they scored with just seconds left. The second half we rebounded the ball great … Mitch (Lightfoot) was exceptional and he was our best player in the game from an energy standpoint. It was a nice win. We needed this one badly and the crowd was terrific. It’s easy to get down on a group or whoever when things haven’t gone well but the crowd was great and our guys responded. Now it’s time to go to Fort Worth.”
Kansas junior F Mitch Lightfoot
On being ready to bring the energy and play well at all times:
“I just think it’s all about taking your opportunities and making the best of them. Whether it be two minutes or 20. You’ve got to go out there with the same energy and give Coach (Self) what he wants. That’s a spark on the defensive end.”
On showing his excitement and how he felt about the way he was playing:
“It was a great atmosphere out there. It was really cool to be able to get out there and help my teammates win the game, because we needed it. I thought the guys played really well and Coach had a good game plan for us.”
Kansas freshman G Ochai Agbaji
On his success from the 3-point line and if any of those makes were surprising to him:
“Some of them were surprising, yeah. My teammates found me and I was just set and ready to shoot and I was getting wide-open looks.”
NOTABLES – Full Notes
- Kansas started four true freshmen for just the second time in the Bill Self era (since 2003-04). The other game that saw four freshmen in KU’s starting line-up occurred on Dec. 7, 2013, when Joel Embiid, Frank Mason III, Wayne Selden Jr., and Andrew Wiggins started at Florida. KU’s four starting freshmen combined for 47 points in the KU win today.
- The win made Kansas 90-12 following a loss in the Bill Self era, including 5-1 this season. Since the 2013-14 season, KU is now 40-4 following a loss.
- The win also gave KU its 17th-straight in Allen Fieldhouse. KU is 13-0 at home this season.
- OSU cut the KU lead to 53-51 with 12:32 left in regulation, over the ensuing 7:30, Kansas outscored Oklahoma State 23-6 to build a 19-point lead, its largest of the game.
- KU outscored OSU 48-36 in the second half, snapping a four-game streak that saw the Jayhawks outscored by their opponent in the final frame.
- The Jayhawks outrebounded OSU 38-26 marking the 14th time this season KU has edged its opponent on the glass. KU is now 11-3 in those games this season.
- Kansas shot 50 percent from the field (31-of-62), improving its season record to 10-0 when shooting 50 percent or better and 248-9 in the Self era.
- KU’s 84 points were the most scored by the Jayhawks in Big 12 play this season.
- The Jayhawks’ 48 second-half points were the most KU has scored in a half during Big 12 play this season.
- In their last two home games (against TTU and OSU) the Jayhawks have led their opponent for 76 minutes out of 80 played.
- Dedric Lawson finished with 25 points, marking the 13th time this season the redshirt-junior forward has scored 20+ points and the 39th time in his career.
- Lawson’s five assists were his most since he dished out five against Eastern Michigan (12/29).
- After his 3-of-6 clip from beyond-the-arc on Saturday, Lawson is 12-of-24 (50 percent) from three in his last six outings. In the first 18 games of the season, Lawson was 6-of-29 (20.7 percent).
- Freshman Ochai Agbaji made a season-high five baskets from beyond the arc while scoring 23 points, just one shy of his season high.
- Agbaji’s five makes from deep were the most by a Jayhawk since Lagerald Vick made five against Texas (1/14/19).
- Forward Mitch Lightfoot replaced several season highs on the day with nine rebounds, two blocks and one steal. The junior also added six points and one assist in a season-high 20 minutes.
- Freshman David McCormack made his first-career start, pulling down five rebounds to go along with one block.
The Jayhawks will meet the TCU Horned Frogs for the second time this season in an 8 p.m., contest in Fort Worth on Monday, Feb. 11. The game will be televised on ESPN. In the first meeting this season, Kansas got a season-high 31 points from Dedric Lawson and a spark off the bench from freshman Ochai Agbaji (7 pts., 4 rebs.) in his collegiate debut to top then-No. 25 TCU, 77-68, Jan. 9 at Allen Fieldhouse. KU is 6-1 all-time against TCU in Fort Worth and has won five straight inside Shollmaier Arena.
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