The Kansas Jayhawks scored 62 points at Texas Tech Saturday night and lost by 29. Monday night the Jayhawks scored 64 points at home against Kansas State and won by 15. Clearly the difference between the two games was defense.
Kansas played tough, aggressive defense from the initial tip making scoring tough for a Kansas State team that is 98th in the country in adjusted offense by kenpom.com. The Jayhawks fed off of the energy the Allen Fieldhouse crowd provided in what was the team’s most critical game so far this season.
Dedric Lawson was really good as usual. Lawson finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Unfortunately for Lawson that kind of game is now expected and is sometimes overlooked. Kansas has lost plenty of games this season in which Lawson put up similar numbers.
The difference in this game was Mitch Lightfoot and Devon Dotson. Lightfoot was outstanding defensively. He had three blocked shots on the night and five rebounds. Lightfoot affected Kansas State in the lane. Dotson was terrific once again handling the ball. Dotson scored 16 points and had only one turnover.
What Mitch did was probably the highlight of his career so far.– Bill Self
Kansas State started the game 5-0 but never was very aggressive on the offensive end. A lot of that had to do with the Kansas defense.
Kansas State has been noticeably better than Kansas most of the Big 12 season but tonight they lacked aggressiveness on offense that prevented them from getting to the free throw line and getting anyone on Kansas from getting into foul trouble.
The difference in fouls had nothing to do with Kansas getting calls at home. It had everything to do with the crowd giving the Jayhawks an incredible amount of energy that led to aggressiveness and putting the Wildcats on their heals.
Dean Wade was never a factor in this game. Wade fouled out with just eight points in only 25 minutes.
Kansas shot just 39.6% from the field but held Kansas State to 31.6%.
So what does this game mean to these two teams? It simply keeps Kansas alive in the Big 12 race. Kansas State is still in control of at least a shared conference title. Before the season you would have expected Kansas to win this game so it’s not really a difference maker in the schedule. This should have happened just like Kansas State should have defeated Kansas in Manhattan and they did.
Kansas probably needs to win their final three games to share the Big 12 title. That’s far from a sure thing. Kansas plays at Oklahoma State on Saturday and then at Oklahoma next week before finishing at home against Baylor. Jayhawk fans are uncomfortable any time their team plays on the road this season regardless of where. So the Oklahoma State game will make Jayhawk fans nervous even though it should be a win.
Kansas State plays at home this weekend against Baylor before going to TCU and playing Oklahoma at home next week. Those are three games Kansas State should win if they play their best. However, life in the Big 12 is tough. We see upsets all the time in this conference. Kansas State needs to go out and be aggressive in their last three games. If the Wildcats can stay aggressive on both ends of the court they should be winning a Big 12 conference championship whether it is by themselves or sharing it with someone else.
It was a fun night in the best environment in college basketball. Nothing was decided. All we learned was that the last two weeks of the regular season will still mean something to both schools as they both fight for the conference championship.