KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A cold-shooting night paired with a 57 percent shooting clip by Iowa State in the second half spelled doom for No. 17/18 Kansas as the Jayhawks fell to the Cyclones, 78-66, in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship final Saturday evening inside Sprint Center. Redshirt-junior Dedric Lawson and freshman guard Devon Dotson led the Jayhawks with 18 and 17 points, respectively, as both earned spots on the All-Tournament team.
The loss dropped the Jayhawks to 25-9 on the year and to 11-3 in Big 12 Championship title games, while Iowa State moved to 23-11 in 2018-19 en route to claiming its fifth Big 12 tournament championship.
It was a struggle on the offensive end from the start as the Jayhawks couldn’t get the lid off the rim over the opening 20 minutes of action. KU converted on just 10 of its 36 tries from the field (28 percent) and failed to hit a 3-pointer in the first half. Despite the shooting struggles, Kansas managed to keep Iowa State within arm’s length for much of the half. After the Cyclones sprinted out to a 13-8 lead over the first 5:30 of the contest, KU used an 11-6 spurt to knot up the score at 21-21 on Dotson’s driving lay-up with 6:35 to play in the half.
The majority of the Kansas shots still refused to fall though. The Jayhawks played the final six minutes of the opening frame without a field goal, meanwhile the Cyclones took advantage on the other end. ISU used KU’s drought to put together an 11-1 run to close the half and build a double-digit lead before the intermission. Iowa State’s strong finish prior the break handed KU just its third double-digit halftime deficit of the season at 32-22.
KU’s fortunes didn’t change much in the early minutes of the second stanza. The Cyclones burst out of the intermission on a 9-2 run the forced Bill Self to call a timeout, suddenly with his team down 43-31 less than three minutes after the restart.
Kansas came out of the timeout and managed to get its deficit back to 10 points using a 9-2 run with four different Jayhawks contributing during the stretch. Dotson’s drive and score with 14:50 remaining pulled his team to within 43-33. The Cyclones had another answer though with ISU forward Michael Jacobson was able ignite a 7-0 spurt to get his team’s lead back up to 17 points before the under-12 minute media timeout.
The Jayhawks made one more push to get itself back in the game, as a Dotson 3-pointer kicked off a stretch that saw KU connect on seven-straight field goals over a five-minute period. The run pulled the Crimson and Blue to within nine points, 60-51, still with more than seven minutes left in regulation.
The Kansas comeback was made more difficult as the fouls began to pile up on the Jayhawks. Fourteen of the Cyclones’ final 21 points came from the charity stripe, as ISU converted on 14-of-14 from the free throw line in the final nine minutes of regulation.
Marcus Garrett and Lawson combined for eight points during an 8-2 KU stretch as the clock ticked under five minutes and the Jayhawks were able to get ISU lead back to single digits at 72-63, but that is as close as Kansas would get. The Jayhawks hit just one bucket over the final two minute and the Cyclones’ prowess from the free throw line closed out the 78-66 victory.
Lawson scored 13 points over the final 20 minutes to lead his team in scoring with 18 points on the night to go along with eight rebounds. Dotson added 17 points, his fifth-straight game in double-figures, and Quentin Grimes tallied 10 points to go along with two blocks in 37 minutes of action.
Kansas ended the game shooting 39.4 percent from the field after going 18-of-35 (51.4 percent) in the second half. The Jayhawks connected on just three 3-pointers on the night (3-of-18) in a 16.7 percent shooting performance from beyond the arc, tying for KU’s fewest triples on the year.