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.
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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.
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.
KANSAS WINS!! Nearly 64 years ago, we played our first-ever game in Allen Fieldhouse, a win over K-State.— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) February 26, 2019
Tonight, our 900th game in the Fieldhouse also goes down as a win over the Wildcats! #RockChalk #KUbball pic.twitter.com/igQr4o3WSr