The nation’s No. 2-ranked team, the Kansas Jayhawks lost their second game in a row Sunday afternoon, as No. 16 Arizona State easily survived a 13-point first-half deficit to shoot its way to a 95-85 victory at Allen Fieldhouse.
ASU (9-0) fell behind 15-2 out of the gate but more than survived the would-be haymaker from KU (7-2) thanks to a trio of 20-point scorers on the perimeter.
Senior Tra Holder (29 points), senior Shannon Evans II (22) and freshman Remy Martin (21) proved to be too much for the Kansas defense to handle.
Lagerald Vick again led the Jayhawks in scoring, with 25, and senior guard Devonte’ Graham added 19 points and eight assists. But KU struggled offensively and defensively much of the second half, allowing Arizona State to never really sweat down the stretch.
The ASU upset marked the first time KU suffered consecutive losses in a span of 146 games, dating back to Dec. 7 and 10, 2013, with road defeats at Colorado and at Florida.
View a gallery of images from Sunday's matchup between the Jayhawks and Sun Devils in Allen Fieldhouse.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: Kansas couldn’t hold on to the basketball on offense or get stops on defense for a miserable five-minute stretch of the second half.
A two-point lead for the home team disappeared for good not too long after halftime, as Arizona State attacked KU on both ends of the floor.
Kansas missed seven consecutive shots and turned the ball over five times during a momentum-thwarting stretch that fueled a 15-0 Sun Devils run.
Svi Mykhailiuk (14 points after being scoreless much of the afternoon) turned the ball over three times during the span and missed a 3-pointer and a jumper.
Contrastingly, ASU made offense look easy on the other end of the floor, scoring all seven of its field goal during the critical stretch on layups.
• Offensive highlight: Before things fell apart for Kansas, the first 20 minutes featured so many jams for Kansas.
The dunk show began in the opening minute, with Graham setting up Udoka Azubuike by slicing to the paint and lofting a lob toward the rim.
Next up was Vick, who also had Graham to thank for a perfectly-placed alley-oop dish. Vick cut baseline from the corner with the ASU defense snoozing and Graham left the ball just above the rim for a two-handed flush.
After two slams in fewer than two minutes, the fieldhouse crowd had to wait a bit before the Jayhawks delivered another flurry.
Graham, of course, assisted Azubuike for a dunk that made it 28-20 with 7:29 to play in the first half.
Then junior Mykhailiuk took on the role of facilitator, first driving into the teeth of the defense and setting up Vick for a two-handed slam. The very next trip down the floor, Mykhailiuk picked up his fifth assist of the game on a lob for Vick, pushing the Kansas advantage to 32-25 with 5:13 to play in the opening half.
Less than a minute later, Graham and Azubuike connected again for KU’s sixth slam of the opening 20 minutes.
Twelve of the Jayhawks’ 40 first-half points came at the rim on jams, helping them net efficient points and 48-percent accuracy from the floor before intermission.
• Defensive highlight: Holder already had harmed the Jayhawks for 10 points less than nine minutes into the matinee when he drove to the paint looking for more.
Holder blew past Malik Newman coming off a ball screen on the right wing.
But as Holder went swooping in for a potential layup, KU sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot had Newman’s help and then some. Holder couldn’t get his attempt off quickly enough and Lightfoot, the same big involved with the initial pick-and-roll action, slid in to spike the potential bucket out of the air.
Holder was 3-for-4 before Lightfoot denied him at the hoop, and ASU’s leading scorer shot 2-for-5 the remainder of the first half, including the swatted shot.
The 6-foot-1 ASU guard easily recovered the rest of the way versus Kansas, though.
• Key stat: ASU 3-pointers.
Arizona State arrived in Lawrence having attempted no fewer than 25 free throws in its first eight games of the season — all victories. One might think KU taking those easy points away would make a difference. But the Sun Devils didn’t need free throws with the open looks they found from behind the arc.
The Sun Devils only earned a single trip to the charity stripe in the first half, when Holder head-faked Graham into a foul and made both ensuing freebies. In the second half, ASU made up for that, finishing 15-for-20 at the line — with seven makes coming in the final 2:43.
In the meantime, the Jayhawks didn’t defend the 3-point line well enough for ASU to feel off kilter. Senior guards Holder and Shannon Evans II combined to make nine of 16 from downtown, and ASH shot 50% from deep (14 of 28).
• Up next: The Jayhawks will have plenty of time to recover from a challenging week of Pac-12 matchups. KU won’t play for six days, when it heads into Big Ten country for its first true road game of the season, Dec. 16 at Nebraska.