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Wayne Staats | NCAA.com | February 25, 2019

Kansas basketball beats Big 12 leader Kansas State, boosts conference title hopes

Gonzaga tops Andy Katz's Power 36 rankings

Kansas' Big 12 title streak wasn't going to come crashing down that easily — and not at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas gave its Big 12 title hopes a boost on Monday, as the No. 15 Jayhawks beat rival and conference leader No. 16 Kansas State, 64-49, at home. With the win, Kansas (21-7 overall, 10-5 Big 12) is one game back of K-State (and 1/2 a game back of Texas Tech) in the Big 12 as it goes for at least a share of its 15th consecutive regular-season title.

BIG 12 BASKETBALL: Breaking down the conference title race

Dedric Lawson led the way with 18 points and 14 boards, with Devon Dotson (16 points) and Quentin Grimes (12 points) also scoring in double figures.

And yet, K-State still controls it destiny.

Monday was more about K-State silencing KU's hopes. If Kansas State won, the Wildcats would have swept the Jayhawks for the first time since 1983 and would have taken a 3-game lead on KU with three to play. Instead, the Wildcats are 11-4 and have a 1/2 game lead on Texas Tech (10-4) — but are tied in the loss column.

Kansas had the usual advantages going in.

  • Bill Self was 28-0 at home on Big Monday at Kansas.
  • KU had 196 wins against K-State, the most by one team against another in Division I history.
  • Kansas had won 12 in a row at home against K-State, with the Wildcats' last win coming on Jan. 14, 2016

Those are obvious. But the Jayhawks got a surprising boost from Mitch Lightfoot. He had eight points on 3-for-3 shooting in the first half despite averaging 10 minutes a game all season. He finished with nine points and added six rebounds, three blocks and two assists.

For the first few minutes, however, it looked like K-State would finally win in Lawrence. Kansas missed its first seven shots and trailed 10-3.

Then Lightfoot brought some magic and K-State defensive star Dean Wade picked up two fouls with 8:49 to play in the first half and found a seat on the bench for the rest of the half. Wade didn't score until he hit a 3-pointer with a little more than 15 minutes remaining in the game. He fouled out with only eight points and 3:37 to play.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL RANKINGS: Katz's Power 36 | AP Top 25

K-State did what it needed to do on 3-pointers, making eight. But the Wildcats struggled when they tried to find an inside game, shooting 28.6 percent on 2-point shots.

For the season Wade and Barry Brown Jr. lead the Wildcats with 28.8 points per game.

They finished with 12.

However, with K-State finishing with Baylor, at TCU and Oklahoma, the Wildcats can make Monday's loss a mere pause before winning the Big 12.

But there is still plenty of basketball to play.

 

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