Jayhawks hold off Cowboys, 72-67

STILLWATER, Okla. – Trailing by three points with four minutes remaining in regulation, Kansas held Oklahoma State scoreless through the final buzzer as the No. 15/16 Jayhawks outlasted the Cowboys, 72-67, Saturday afternoon inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. Redshirt-junior Dedric Lawson scored 20 points and added a season-high-tying 15 rebounds to collect his 18th double-double, while freshman guard Quentin Grimes connected on four 3-pointers en route to a 17-point performance.

The win moved the Jayhawks to 22-7 on the year and to 11-5 in league play, keeping them within a game of the Big 12 lead. Oklahoma State fell to 10-19 in its 2018-19 season and 3-13 in conference play.

With the Jayhawks trailing by five points, 62-57, with under six minutes remaining in the game, the KU defense came up tough down the back stretch to help the Crimson and Blue close out a key road victory. Freshman Ochai Agbaji cut his team’s deficit to two points with one of his 3-pointers on the day, before Devon Dotson knotted the score up 30 seconds later with a drive to the basket, pulling the two teams level at 62-62 with just over five minutes remaining.

Oklahoma State’s Curtis Jones, who was one of two Cowboys to lead his team with 19 points, swished a fade away jumper from the top of the key to put his team back on top as the clock ticked under five minutes. On OSU’s next possession, Cameron McGriff, the other Cowboy to tally 19 points, converted on an and-one opportunity to give his team a three-point advantage, 67-64, with 4:04 remaining in regulation.

McGriff’s free throw would be the Cowboys’ final point of the game.

After a pair of empty possessions by both teams, Grimes knocked down one his biggest 3-pointers of the season, pulling the two teams level for the fifth and final time on the day, 67-67, with 2:42 to play.

Kansas kept the Cowboys off the board on their next possession and before Grimes drove to the basket and drew a foul on the Jayhawks’ next trip down the floor. The freshman out of The Woodlands, Texas, hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to put KU ahead with 98 ticks on the clock to go.

The Jayhawk defense came up with two more stops, which included forcing an OSU shot clock violation as the game entered its final minute. Lawson and Agbaji then hit a pair of three throws apiece to give their team the cushion it needed to close out the 72-67 victory, just KU’s second win in Stillwater in its last six tries.

The Kansas freshmen got the Jayhawks out to a quick start after the opening tip-off, scoring each of the team’s 19 points. Grimes contributed seven points in the opening seven minutes, including his 3-pointer at the 13:02 mark, to put Kansas ahead 14-8. But shortly thereafter, the league’s top 3-point shooting team began to live up to its billing. The Cowboys hit 7-of-9 shots, including three 3-pointers, during a four-minute stretch to explode on a 13-0 run. The OSU spurt gave the home side a seven-point lead, 21-14, with just over eight minutes to play in the half.

Kansas responded with a 12-6 run to pull itself within a point of the Cowboys. Lawson tallied six points while Grimes and Agbaji each connected from 3-point range as KU got to within 27-26 less than three minutes later.

OSU hit two more triples in the next two minutes to regain the momentum. Both offenses cooled however, over the final minutes of the opening frame as the Cowboys took a 37-32 lead into the halftime locker room.

Kansas blitzed Oklahoma State after the restart to get itself back in control of the game. After OSU’s Thomas Dziagwa netted a jumper in the paint to put his team on top 39-32, the Jayhawks erupted on a 16-2 run to turn a seven-point deficit into a seven-point lead. Including his two free throws at the 13:22 mark to give KU a 48-41 lead, Lawson added seven points during the run to go along with threes from Grimes and Agbaji.

But once again, Oklahoma State’s prowess from long range got the Cowboys back into the game. OSU hit four 3-pointers over the next three minutes, including Jones, who connected on one of his four triples on the day to tie the game at 55-55 just over midway through the second half.

OSU built a five-point lead twice over the next two minutes, but the KU defense finally managed to put a clamp on the Cowboy shooters. Oklahoma State went 2-of-9, while Kansas outscored OSU 15-5 over the final six minutes of regulation.

Lawson collected his Big 12-leading 18th double-double after posting a game-high 20 points and 15 rebounds. The Memphis, Tennessee, native also was perfect from the free throw line, hitting each of his nine tries from the stripe. Grimes was next on the KU scoresheet with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting and a 4-of-7 clip from 3-point range. Agbaji rounded out the Jayhawks’ double-figure scorers with 11 points to go along with five rebounds and two assists.