Lawson leads No. 2 Kansas past New Mexico State, 63-60
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Redshirt-junior Dedric Lawson accounted for 16 of the Jayhawks’ final 19 points to help No. 2 Kansas outlast the New Mexico State Aggies, 63-60, Saturday night inside Sprint Center. Kansas trailed by as many as seven points in the second half before Lawson closed strong and tallied his fifth double-double of the year.
With the victory, the Jayhawks moved to 8-0 for the first time since 2010-11 and remained one of 10 teams still undefeated on the season. Meanwhile, the Aggies dropped their second game of the season, moving to 7-2 in 2018-19.
The shots were not falling for the Jayhawks over the opening 20 minutes of action, who hit only 11 of their 32 tries from the field and posted a season-low 26 points in the first frame. The Aggies took advantage and, after KU took an early 12-2 lead, the visitors outscored the Jayhawks 26-14 over the final 16 minutes prior to the intermission. This run handed KU their fourth halftime deficit of the year, 28-26.
New Mexico State carried that momentum into the second half. Over a six-minute span early in the frame, the Aggies hit 8-of-9 shots, including a 4-of-4 mark from 3-point range, to help build a 51-44 advantage with just over 11 minutes remaining.
From that point forward though, it was all Lawson. The 6-9 forward kicked off a stretch that pulled his team back into the game, scoring 11-straight points and handing KU a 60-57 lead with a 3-pointer at the 3:23 mark. Kansas held off the upset-minded Aggies from there, holding NMSU to just one field goal in the final minutes.
Kansas finished with only two scorers in double figures, Lawson (20) and sophomore Marcus Garrett (10), but had eight of the nine players who entered the contest put points on the board. Lawson also tallied his fifth double-double of the season after finishing with a team-best 10 rebounds on the night.
Defensively the Jayhawks held the streaky Aggies to a mere 60 points despite them coming in averaging 81 per game. This came in large part to their defense of the three-point line, holding New Mexico State to 26.9 percent (7-26) shooting from behind the arc. The Jayhawks also turned 16 Aggie turnovers into 29 points on the night.
QUOTES – Full Quotes
Head Coach Bill Self
“New Mexico State was better than us. Other than the first four or five minutes, they controlled the game the entire time. They were quicker, but they are quicker; physically they are quicker, and they were turned up more. I didn’t think we played awful the first half, (but) we missed so many shots and (had) a couple (of) defensive blunders. The second half we didn’t get anything going until under five minutes (to play), so they basically led the entire game. We hung around and made some plays. I thought our defense was pretty good late, I thought Mitch (Lightfoot) did some good things when he was in the game. You can list the things we don’t do from a competitive and thinking standpoint, it’s just unbelievable. We were fortunate tonight. (I don’t know) How in the world we’ve won these games. Certainly, it’s one thing to not play well, it’s another thing to not play well and then not be intellectually in the game, and that was certainly the case tonight.”
On Mitch Lightfoot’s performance:
“He did fine. He made some really good plays and made a couple plays that were maybe not the right time to make a couple plays. I thought Mitch did good.”
Redshirt junior Dedric Lawson
On how he maintained his confidence level in the first 30 minutes
“It’s just basketball, it’s all about getting into a rhythm. Once you get into a rhythm you get in the flow of the game and after that I think the basketball just takes over from there. You just get into your rhythm.”
On what got him going in the second half:
“You know, coach ran a play for me, an out-of-bounds play called five sides, and it got me an easy jumper and I started to get going, then I ended up getting a put back. Things like that. Just getting easy baskets around the rim. Just seeing the ball go through the net really.”
NOTABLES – Full Notes
- The win made Kansas 8-0 for the first time since the 2010-11 season
- The victory also gave Kansas its fourth-straight win in Sprint Center and made KU 39-9 in the venue
- Kansas failed to convert any of its free throw attempts (0-1) in the first half. Kansas last tallied just one free throw attempt on Dec. 21, 2017 against Stanford. The last time the Jayhawks failed to record a point on a free throw in a half was on March 9, 2018 against Kansas State.
- The Jayhawks’ 63 points were their fewest since a 74-60 loss to Oregon (3-25-17) in the regional final of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, a game also played at Sprint Center.
- The last time Kansas won a game scoring 63 points or fewer came in a 63-52 win over Baylor (3-13-15) in the semifinals of the 2015 Big 12 Championship.
- With its seven-point second-half deficit, Kansas has now trailed by seven points or more in six of its eight outings this season and has gone on to win each.
- Over a six-minute span early in the second half (17:01-11:04), NMSU went 8-of-9 from the field including 4-of-4 from 3-point range, helping it build a 51-44 lead. After that point, the Jayhawks held the Aggies to just 4-of-12 shooting over the final 11 minutes of regulation, including an 0-of-7 clip from behind the arc.
- Despite their cold shooting late in the game, the Aggies still managed to wage the highest field goal percentage (45.5) by a Kansas opponent this season.
- Dedric Lawson scored 16 of the Jayhawks’ final 19 points, all coming in the final 10:41 of the second half.
- Lawson recorded his league-leading fifth double-double of the season, and the 41st of his career.
- Lagerald Vick dished a season-best five assists, this after tallying a total of five helpers in his last four outings.
- Lightfoot tallied season-highs with seven points, six rebounds and 18 minutes. His previous highs were four, three and 13, respectively.
In a rematch of the 2018 NCAA Final Four semifinal, Kansas will host defending national champion Villanova on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPN. Villanova holds a 4-3 series advantage and the Wildcats have won the last three meetings. This will be only the second meeting in Lawrence with the first on Jan. 2, 2004, a KU 86-79 win.
This will mark the third time in the arena’s 63 years that KU will host the defending NCAA Champion at Allen Fieldhouse. KU fell to the 1962 champion Cincinnati, 64-49, on Dec. 16, 1962 and defeated the 1995 champion UCLA Bruins, 85-70, on Dec. 1, 1995.
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