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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

New-look Jayhawks hang on to knock off Spartans in Champions Classic

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) fights for a rebound with Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Indianapolis.

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) fights for a rebound with Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Indianapolis.

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In the first official action of the new season, No. 1 Kansas demonstrated its talent on the national stage.

Behind contributions from several new players, KU was nearly always in control during its 92-87 win over No. 10 Michigan State Tuesday night during the Champions Classic. It marked the third consecutive season that the Jayhawks have won their matchup in the Champions Classic, which was moved up a weak earlier this season.

The Spartans, who trailed by double digits for much of the night, trimmed the deficit to three points in the final minute. The Jayhawks responded by hitting the necessary free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.

Junior forward Dedric Lawson along with freshman guards Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson posted impressive debuts to lift KU to a win. Lawson finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. Grimes notched 21 points, while Dotson added 16 points. Veterans contributed as well, as junior center Udoka Azubuike tallied 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:

• The game turned when: Kansas responded in the second half with a decisive run to hold off Michigan State.

Dotson, who got the start for the Jayhawks, was crucial down the stretch. The Spartans pulled within eight points with 14:41 remaining in the game.

Dotson responded with a 3-pointer and then delivered an assist to junior forward Mitch Lightfoot, who netted a bucket in transition. On the ensuing possession, Lawson finished off a 7-0 run with a fastbreak layup. Michigan State then called a timeout, but Dotson hit another triple to keep Kansas’ lead at double digits.

• Offensive highlight: With 10:47 left in the first half, top-ranked Kansas proved why every other team in college basketball should be concerned.

Dotson fed Lawson on the high post. Azubuike then set a ball screen for Lawson, who attacked the rim with his right hand. As soon as the Spartans showed help, Lawson lobbed up a pass to the rim where Azubuike threw a dunk down in emphatic fashion.

None by Shane Jackson

• Defensive highlight:Azubuike protected the paint for Kansas, especially early on to set the tone.

Azubuike swatted three shots within the first nine minutes of the contest. His third block of the contest came at the 11:16 mark in the first half, as Aaron Henry fooled Grimes with a back-cut. Azubuike rotated over to stuff Henry’s dunk attempt at the rim.

Grimes hit a 3-pointer on the other end to stretch Kansas’ lead out to a seven points during a 12-1 run midway through the first half.

None by Shane Jackson

• Key stat: The Jayhawks gave up too many points in transition on the defensive end.

In the loss, Michigan State scored 14 fastbreak points by beating KU defenders to the rim following missed shots. For the game, Kansas allowed 26 fastbreak points to the opposition in the win.

Comments

Dane Pratt 1 week, 6 days ago

Ya basketball!. Finally, a sport we are good at.

Bryce Landon 1 week, 6 days ago

After blowing big leads in losses to MSU the last two times we played them in the Champions' Classic, I'm so glad we didn't suffer the same fate this time out. It helped that MSU missed so many free throws in the first half. If they make those, we lose this game. I'm not sure we deserve to be #1 in the country when we nearly blew a 17-point lead, but then again, I've come to accept that, when Kansas and Michigan State face off, it's a coin-flip as to who wins it.

Barry Weiss 1 week, 6 days ago

great game. we kicked them in the first half, they kicked us in the second. Their penetration in the second half and then kick out for the three looked like us last year. We need to tighten that up going forward. At least we got our turnovers in check tonight. Looks like hack a Dok could be back on this year.

Daniel Parker 1 week, 6 days ago

Barry..we gotta change that...let's make it... Poke a Dok

Marcia Parsons 1 week, 6 days ago

I thought we played surprisingly well with all the freshmen playing their first game.

Jesse Johnson 1 week, 6 days ago

The freshman were great. It was our experienced guys having troubles (Dedric 5/18 FG, Vick 1/7 FG). Except Dok, he was great.

Dirk Medema 1 week, 6 days ago

Dok started out 3 for 4. It seems that he more shot puts/pushes the ball to the rim than shooting it but it is still light years better than last.

Jesse Johnson 1 week, 6 days ago

Yeah, he's not messing it up with his left hand anymore.

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