Jayhawks overpower Showdown with Wildcats, 64-49

LAWRENCE, Kan. – An All-America-caliber performance from redshirt-junior Dedric Lawson along with stifling Jayhawk defense helped No. 15/16 Kansas to a 64-49 win over the No. 16/15 Kansas State Wildcats Monday night in the 291st edition of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown. Lawson led all scorers with 18 points and 14 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season, while the KU defense held KSU to a Big 12 season-low 31.6 percent shooting from the field to pull within one game of its in-state rival in the conference standings.

The win, KU’s 20th-straight inside Allen Fieldhouse, improved the Jayhawks to 21-7 and 10-5 in the conference. K-State fell to 21-7 in its 2018-19 campaign and to 11-4 in league play.

The Wildcats jumped on the Jayhawks early, getting out to a 10-3 lead and holding Kansas scoreless for more than four minutes after the opening tip. After starting the game hitting one of their first eight tries from the field, Quentin Grimes’ 3-pointer at the 13:50 mark got KU offense rolling. That bucket sparked an 8-0 Jayhawk run over the next two minutes to give KU its first lead of the game at 11-10 just over eight minutes into the contest.

Mitch Lightfoot then gave his team a boost and helped Kansas put some distance between themselves and their in-state rival. The junior forward scored seven points during a 12-2 KU spurt, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key, his first of the season, to give the Jayhawks a 23-16 advantage with 6:23 left in the half. KU then went 6-of-7 from the free throw line in the last five minutes of the half, which included an and-one bucket from freshman Devon Dotson, helping KU take a 34-27 lead into the intermission.

The Kansas defense took the reins in the early minutes of the second half. KU kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard over the first four minutes after the restart, forcing K-State to start the half going 0-for-10 from the field. That stretch included two blocks from Lightfoot. Meanwhile, the KU offense continued to hum along. Grimes’ second 3-pointer of the night got the Jayhawks’ lead to 41-27 before four minutes were gone in the second frame.

The Wildcats finally got the lid off the rim and trimmed their deficit to eight points after Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade connected on back-to-back triples. With KU now ahead, 41-33, Dotson came up with his two biggest buckets of the game. The freshman out of Raleigh, North Carolina drove to the bucket for two points on the Jayhawks’ next possession, before shooting in his lone triple of the night one minute later to push his team’s lead back to double-figures at 46-33, with 13:40 remaining in regulation.

The Jayhawk lead never shrank to fewer than 10 points from there on out as KU limited the Wildcats to just six field goals over the final 13 minutes. The KU defense closed out the second half holding KSU to just 8-of-35 shooting from the field (22.9 percent) over the final 20 minutes and 31.6 percent shooting for the game, the Wildcats’ worst shooting night this season in Big 12 play.

Lawson finished the night with his league-leading 17th double-double, scoring 18 points and pulling down 14 rebounds to go along with five assists. Dotson added 16 points and 5-of-5 shooting from the free throw line. Grimes was the third player to score in double-figures, notching 12 points which included 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. It marked the fourth time this season Grimes has connected on three or more triples in a game.