Junior forward Dedric Lawson has been the dominant force behind Kansas Jayhawks basketball all season. That was on display once again Monday night when KU outlasted the Iowa State Cyclones at Allen Fieldhouse 80-76.
Lawson didn’t go it alone, though, as sophomore guard Marcus Garrett helped put by continuing his own recent torrid pace.
The big night from Lawson, which featured his 13th double-double of the season, came when the Jayhawks desperately needed a big performance. Tied with Iowa State and two other programs atop the Big 12 standings at 4-2, Kansas couldn’t afford to lose a second meeting to ISU.
His presence was crucial early on. The Jayhawks struggled to get in an offensive rhythm in the first half, but Lawson was the one consistent option scoring option for Kansas. He scored 15 points in the opening period.
“They basically couldn’t stop him,” Garrett said.
It was more of the same in the second half, when he was the catalyst behind a 14-0 Kansas run that propelled the Jayhawks into a late lead. Lawson finished with game highs in points with 29 (on 13-of-17 shooting) and rebounds with 15. He even added a pair of three-point baskets in the victory.
“He’s a good shooter,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He just played so good. He held his composure and he had a great game.”
As for Garrett, he scored 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting, giving him at least 15 points in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. Garrett also had three steals in the win. Self said after the game that Garrett is playing at a high level, but credited one of his teammates with opening up new opportunities to score for him.
“You go back and watch the tape and Devon Dotson got him many of those drives,” Self said.
The freshman point guard struggled from the floor on Monday, going just 3-of-12, however he still finished in double figures thanks to a clutch performance at the free throw line, knocking down 5-of-6 at the stripe. That included 3-of-4 in the game’s waning moments.
“I like him on the line and game point,” Self said. “I thought he showed some poise there late to knock them down.”
The 14-0 run was the main story of the game late, but Iowa State held its own for a majority of the game. The Cyclones led for 25:42 of game time, compared to just 11:19 for the Jayhawks. Iowa State coach Steve Prohm credited KU’s physical play in the second half for the momentum swing.
“I thought the biggest adjustment they made was just the physicality they defended us with,” Prohm said. “That’s on me, this one’s on me, I probably had our guys thinking too much.”
Efficient, high-volume three-point shooting has proven to be the best course of action for opponents who come to Allen Fieldhouse, and that was clearly Iowa State’s plan on Monday. It took 30 shots from behind the arc, just two attempts short of its season high, and shot at a 40 percent clip. That was actually a steady decrease from the Cyclones’ shooting effort two and a half weeks ago, when the Jayhawks allowed them to shoot 52 percent from long range.
“Credit Kansas, [it was a] really good comeback in the second half,” Prohm said. “I think they got us a little frustrated.”
Marial Shayok led Iowa State in scoring with 26 points.
For KU, the win was necessary not only for the sake of the standings, but also for the sake of bouncing back from a stunning upset loss this past Saturday on the road to West Virginia. Self said it’s still too early in the Big 12 season to project what will happen the rest of the way, but added there’s still a lot his team needs to work on both individually and holistically.
“We’ve had some talks since Saturday, and we’ve got to become a team,” Self said. “It takes time to become a team and who you are, and it’s a mindset.”
Next up for Kansas is a trip to Lexington, Kentucky for a meeting with the Kentucky Wildcats in this year’s Big 12/SEC Challenge. This will be the fifth year in a row the two blue bloods face off; the Jayhawks have won the last three.