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.