Advertisement

Kansas defeats Kansas State, 64-49

  • 8 p.m., Feb. 25, 2019
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Monday, February 25, 2019

Heavy Hand: KU junior Mitch Lightfoot leads KU to crucial win over K-State

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) celebrates with Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) after drawing a charge against Kansas State during the first half, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) celebrates with Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) after drawing a charge against Kansas State during the first half, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Advertisement

The Kansas men’s basketball team’s hope of extending its streak of 14 consecutive Big 12 titles to 15 in the next couple of weeks is alive and well.

And it’s all because of a man named Mitch Lightfoot.

Monday night, during one of the biggest late-season conference games the Jayhawks have played during the 14-plus years of the streak, a 4-minute stretch from one of the Jayhawks’ most experienced players helped turn a back-and-forth slugfest into a game the Jayhawks controlled the rest of the half and ultimately won with ease, 64-49, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Lightfoot’s contributions to KU’s season-saving victory began well before he first checked into the game with 14:38 to play in the first half.

During the pregame introductions, while KU’s hype video was playing, Lightfoot was mouthing along with the words while staring intently up at the video board and swaying from side to side.

Larry Brown. Bob Davis. Bill Self. Lightfoot had all of their lines memorized. Like all true KU fans, he even paused to applaud after the clip of Mario Chalmers’ miracle 3-pointer that tied Memphis in the 2008 national title game. He said after Monday's victory that he's got the whole thing memorized verbatim.

Toward the end of the video, Lightfoot returned to the lineup line and did what he has done so well during his first three years at Kansas — proved to be the perfect teammate.

Energy in the huddle, encouragement for freshman David McCormack, who started his fifth consecutive game at center, and an intensity and readiness that can only come from someone who realizes the program is far bigger than he is, Lightfoot delivered it all on Monday night.

And then he delivered on the floor, too. Big time.

“What Mitch did was probably the highlight of his career so far,” KU coach Bill Self said after the victory. “He was great. Mitch is one of those guys that you can’t help but love him. You’ve got to be so happy for him.”

True to the form of a selfless, team-first type of player, Lightfoot talked most about what Monday's win meant for his team and very little about what it meant for him.

“I think it was big," he said. "We needed to get a win. The game against Texas Tech (last Saturday) taught us a lesson — it was a very humbling game — and I think we bounced back well.”

The first notch in the junior forward’s still-snug-for-now Big 12 championship belt was a strong post move on K-State senior Dean Wade, who picked up his second foul of the game and sent Lightfoot to the free-throw line.

Lightfoot, who finished with 9 points and 6 rebounds in 31 minutes, missed the free throw, but his work on that particular possession was done.

Allen Fieldhouse fed off of his heart and effort and, less than a minute later, freshman Quentin Grimes (12 points on 4-of-8 shooting, 3-of-6 from 3-point range) hit his second 3-pointer of the first half to put the Jayhawks (21-7 overall, 10-5 Big 12) up, 18-15.

Beyond that, Wade went to the bench with two fouls and remained out of sorts all over the floor until finally cracking the scoring column with a 3-pointer with 15:13 to play in the second half that pulled the Wildcats (21-7, 11-4) within 8 points.

Lightfoot wasn’t done.

On K-State’s second possession after his strong post move through Wade, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound Lightfoot did what he does best, digging in for position to take a charge on K-State’s 6-9, 245-pound center. After initially appearing to have avoided the foul, the official near mid-court came racing in to wave off the basket and reward Lightfoot with another charge taken.

But, wait. Lightfoot still wasn’t done. On KU’s next possession, which followed the Under-8 media timeout, Lightfoot again scored on of a tough post-up to put Kansas ahead 20-15.

But, wait. You guessed it. Only this time, instead of doing his damage near the basket — Lightfoot also finished the game 4 blocks — the junior forward who grew up on this rivalry stepped into a rhythm 3-pointer at the top of the key that put Kansas ahead 23-17 and forced a K-State timeout.

“We said we were going to get on the floor more than we have all year long and we definitely protected the rim tonight,” Self said. “Mitch had a huge role in that.”

The junior from Gilbert, Ariz., played the final 14:38 of the first half and, in a crucial 4-minute stretch, tallied 8 points on 3-of-3 shooting, to go along with 1 block, 1 forced travel and all kinds of attitude and swagger.

“Yeah, I was feeling it," he admitted after the victory.

As if all of that wasn’t already enough, Lightfoot started the second half, blocked three K-State shots in the first 2:08 — two of them on two different players on the same possession — and set off full-on party mode in the Allen Fieldhouse stands.

“We were embarrassed obviously from Saturday (loss at Texas Tech), and, gosh, showed a lot of pride,” Self said. “Happy for our guys to have some success after Saturday. Our fans hung in there with us and they were terrific and our players did compete.”

There were other big time Lightfoot plays in the second half, as well. These were of the more fundamentally sound variety, although both his leaning 3-pointer in front of the KU bench and one-handed alley-oop attempt midway through nearly fell.

A simple box out of Wade for a key defensive rebound on one end was followed by an offensive rebound and kick-out to Charlie Moore for a 3-pointer on the other end.

Self constantly talks about his guys worrying about the right things, playing the right way and for the right reasons, and Lightfoot did plenty of all three in KU’s massive Big Monday win that pulled the team within a game of Kansas State in the Big 12 standings with three games to play.

Lightfoot was hardly alone in leading Kansas to victory in its second-to-last home game of the 2018-19 season.

Grimes got going, Devon Dotson set the pace and scored 16 points, Marcus Garrett (6 points, 4 rebounds, had a second straight strong outing after missing five games with an ankle injury and KU’s leading scorer, Dedric Lawson, 18 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists — his 17th double-double of the season — did all kinds of things Lightfoot couldn’t do to keep K-State from having much of a prayer past the game’s first 10 minutes.

Beyond that, K-State missed its first 10 shots of the second half taking a 10-of-22 first-half performance (45.5 percent) to 10-of-32 (31.2) in less than 5 minutes of game time.

As the Jayhawks battled their way to a double-digit lead for most of the second half, Lightfoot got his curtain call.

With a little more than 90 seconds to play, Lightfoot flapped his arms to the KU crowd, which responded with one final roar for the Jayhawks’ strong effort just 48 hours after being bludgeoned by 29 points in Lubbock, Texas.

Lightfoot checked out for good with 47.8 seconds to play and received a roar that matched his play.

So the stage is set. Kansas stays within arm’s length of the Wildcats in the Big 12 race and heads into the final three games on the regular season schedule with a chance that would not have been there if not for Monday’s victory.

“There’s a lot to play for, for a lot of reasons,” Self said. “And we’re still in the game. We can’t afford another loss and we’ve got to have somebody beat K-State and Tech to have a chance, but the league’s tough. Anything can happen. Now we’ve just got to go win out in order to have a shot.”

KU is off the rest of the week and will play at Oklahoma State at 11 a.m. Saturday in Stillwater, Okla.

Comments

Jay Scott 7 months, 2 weeks ago

After Jay Bilas' comments about how skinny and weak Mitch is I hope he gets his head slapped too....

Bryce Landon 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The talking heads who awarded Dedric Lawson "Player of the Game" on ESPN should both get their heads slapped. Mitch's energy and play was clearly the deciding factor in the game tonight.

Allin Herring 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The sad thing is Mitch has shown over the past six games that he should clearly be starting over Mack but for some reason Self just does not want to start his best players

Shannon Gustafson 7 months, 2 weeks ago

If you'd pay attention to what Self has said about this it's pretty clear what he's doing. He said he doesn't start him because he tends to pick up early fouls when he does and that takes him how of the game. Bringing him off the bench sparks the team and also keeps him from getting those early fouls when the refs are "setting the tone".

Furthermore, it's not who starts it's who finishes.

Jay Scott 7 months, 2 weeks ago

You need to have a plate of birdseed with the kooks that are sure Mac is THE best player....

Tom Jones 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Self is clearly in over his head...

Wait, what??!?!?

Marius Rowlanski 7 months, 2 weeks ago

And even if Mack wasn't as good, he needs to be if we are going anywhere in the postseason. Lightfoot brings a lot of things to the table but Mack has by far a higher ceiling.

Top post Shannon.

Steve Zimmerman 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Playing for 31 min, he might look not that impressive on paper, but boy, gotta love that big man footwork, blocks (i swear he's got at least 6 blks), defensive stance (without fouling much) and a 3 pointer!! He definitely brings energy tonight. Next, we want to see you dunking, Mitch!! Rock Chalk!!!

Brian Wilson 7 months, 2 weeks ago

My prediction was off. I predicted a much closer game with Mac on the bench. My bad. I couldn't have predicted what happened...... Lightfoot was Lightning in a bottle and the big energizer bunny charged the Jayhawks past K-State easily. Even Grimes got charged up for a few energetic moments. Mitch had 9 points and 3 blocks 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 31 minutes of really unselfish play by giving his all. RCJHKU Mitch!!

Jay Scott 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Brian. From that comment it seems that you really are serious about the things you post and aren't a nonsense spreading troll...

Are you a grown up? Suddenly I feel this guilt about making fun of a child...

Brian Wilson 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Well Jay at least I'm willing to go out on a limb and give an opinion. But just cause Mitch and Grimes had one good night doesn't make my opinion wrong. I still believe that Grimes should come off the bench. His productivity compared to the others sucks. KJ, Garrett and Mitch play better than him and the stats prove it. If you are unable to see it I can't help you. But.....it seems from your comment that it doesn't matter to you, adult or child, you are willing to make fun of them. It's just the kind of guy you are.

Jay Scott 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Brian. A small child can read the stats. A HOF coach (or an intelligent fan) can see the potential in Grimes. He showed more of it last night. He's solid defensively.

A child or a HOF coach can see that Mac is struggling. Centers rarely pick up the game as quickly. Lawson (both) and Mitch are better answers right now.

I really hope you ARE a 10-12 year old child. It would be sad to think that an adult would post the nonsense that is your hallmark.

Steve Zimmerman 7 months, 2 weeks ago

If we all fans learn to respect each other, I think we'll build a stronger Jayhawk Nation. We good??

Tony Bandle 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Let's see:

What could happen is KU loses to OSU, beats OU and BU - goes 12 - 6. What should happen is KU wins out and goes 13 - 5.

What could happen is TT beats TCU loses to Texas, loses to ISU - goes 12 - 6. What should happen is TT beats Texas, beats TCU, loses to ISU and goes 13 - 5.

What could happen is KSU loses to BU, loses to TCU, beats OU - goes 12 - 6. What should happen is KSU loses to BU, beats TCU, Beats OU and goes 13 - 5.

What could happen is Baylor beats KSU, beats OSU and loses to KU - goes 12 - 6. What should happen is hopefully, the same and goes 12 - 6.

What could happen is ISU sweeps and goes 12 - 6. This is also what should happen and go 12 - 6.

There is a scenario that the Big 12 race could end in a five way tie with five schools at 12 -6. Of course, it's midnight and I could be totally wrong!!!

Win, lose or draw, maybe having the conference streak end may be a blessing in disguise in that the coaching staff can work on season long player development in preparation for the NCAA and let the chips fall where they may during conference play!!

Jonathan Allison 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I haven't check to see if you're right that it's possible to have a 5 way tie atop the standings. But if it does happen that would be insane, and the trophy would feel like a fraud. Of course I'd take it to continue the streak.

Bill Kackley 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Mitch could play on my team anytime. He is my kind of player. The kind any coach would love to have on his team

Brad Avery 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Mitch is one of the very few players remaining in college basketball who actually have excellent post moves, with both his left and right hand. If he would learn a) to shoot free throws and b) to drive occasionally to the basket from the top of the key, he would be a 13-15 ppg scorer.

Jay Scott 7 months, 2 weeks ago

.....maybe if he learned more about physics he could be the next Albert Einstein....or if he dedicated himself to the guitar he could be like Carlos Santana...

Marius Rowlanski 7 months, 2 weeks ago

We don't need Lightfoot to score 13+ points per game. We have better shooters on the court and that isn't his role.

And what Jay said.

Barry Weiss 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Great to see that tough defense we played, probably one of our best efforts of the season. The one play where Mitch and a couple of others, Grimes maybe and Dedric all reject K-state shots under the rim was awesome. Not sure if Agbaji is okay, he has not scored hardly at all the two games Garrett has been back. Beat the Cowboys!

Andy Godwin 7 months, 2 weeks ago

"in the next couple of weeks is alive and well". Alive, but well? KU will need a lot of help to catch the hottest team in the Big 12, not KSU, but TTU. Was nice to see Grimes contribute on both ends of the court. In Weber's postgame comments, he made it clear that Lightfoot always seems to play well against KSU and that Wade is not able to practice. In the end, KU's defense shut down KSU's two best scores (Brown and Wade), and Mitch's energy was essential. Now KU fans must become big TCU fans if KU hopes to somehow sneak into a three-way tie.

Brad Watson 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Great game!....We are still alive!!.....The star of the game last night was the 6th MAN!!!!...After Saturday night...this team needed some love...they were a little down and the crowd last night lifted their spirits and got them back on track...the crowd lifted my spirits as well.......Mitch was fantastic in spurts....Mr. Grimes is now officially out of his funk...........Dedric was exceptional in all areas.......Mr. Dotson played the way a quarterback at Kansas plays...fantastic..this team is loaded with talent....the ceiling is very high...we have a lot of things to improve on.......keep at it....I BELIEVE IN THIS TEAM...there were a lot of great moments last night....IMO...the MVP.... last night....... was the 6TH MAN!!!!!!!

[''] 7 months, 2 weeks ago

If only we had Vick back......pffffftttttt

[''] 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Nahhh..... If Vick plays last night we lose. He'd have been chucking up shots, turning it over, playing sh#t D and putting out a crap vibe to teammates. Moving on!

Robert Brock 7 months, 2 weeks ago

K-State was majorly surprised that KU could beat them at their own game - tight defense, rebounding, taking care of the ball.

Bill Lamson 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Random fan poll/question since we've got just 3 games left... Would you rather continue the streak and win the league champ again, or win the conference tourney championship?
I know the streak is a big deal, but I'd actually rather win the Big 12 Tourney. We need more of those banners hanging in AF and it would be good momentum going into the NCAA.

[''] 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The Big 12 Tourney is worthless window dressing - and only serves as a money grab for the Big 12 and as an opp for an unranked Cinderella team to get an automatic bid. Regular season conf champ or bust!!

Dave Miller 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I think continuing the streak provides momentum to win the Big12 tourney championship which provides momentum going into the NCAA Tournament.

Jay Scott 7 months, 2 weeks ago

As Mitch's game develops it's worth noting that he's the same listed height and weight as Harrison Barnes.

Under the Joe Ross axiom, that means Mitch has the exact same skills, positioning and NBA potential as Barnes. It's not unreasonable, per Joe, that HCBS should move Mitch to the wing and let him begin his journey to becoming an NBA Max Contract Small Forward. Maybe he's the next Magic Johnson? What says Joe on this?

In Mitch's support, he has a much purer 3PT stroke than Joe's original poster child for this theory, Perry Ellis.

RJ King 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Jay, c'mon ... that dead horse started to stink a long time ago.

Jay Scott 7 months, 2 weeks ago

That's funny RJ, did you disagree with Joe at the time....when he was beating the horse while it was still alive. Somehow I don't remember that you did....but you brought yourself into the discussion....

Dwayne Mudd 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The announcers went out of their way to mention how much stronger Wade is than Mitch. Wait a minute. They are the same weight. Wade has a couple inches in height but strength wise they are probably about equal.

Ken Stclair 7 months, 2 weeks ago

This game shows they have talent and potential. Grimes would personify that. If he could play that well and get 10-12 points a game they could be really good. Not sure if that's possible this year, though. We will see how they finish.

Ryan Zimmerman 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Right now and for starting purposes: Mitch>DMC

Ken Stclair 7 months, 2 weeks ago

PS-Does anyone know what ever happened to "Jaybate"?? He used to post on here constantly maybe 5 or 6 years ago......but then disappeared.

Jonathan Allison 7 months, 2 weeks ago

we lost most of this community the day that The World Company implemented a requirement to "verify" accounts using facebook or email. I think it may have been October of 2013 ish. There were a few smaller discussion boards that sprouted when the new policy was announced, and many of the regulars transitioned to those communities, but I suspect those have mostly fizzled out. It's possible that most of the others whom we lost are still lurking here and maybe posting intermittently under different identities, but this site truly has never been the same. I would like to read Jaybate's musings again. Especially would be interested in his pontifications about the adidas/Nike/recruiting developments. He was ahead of the game calling out the shoe company/recruiting industrial complex. As well as calling out ESPN/NCAA for allowing the proliferation of no-call fouls in order to make for better TV programming.

Ken Stclair 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Thanks! Yes I forgot about him making those posts and you're right! I miss his musings as well......who knows he may still be lurking out there somewhere or using another name-although I think we would be able to spot his writings :)

RJ King 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Me too, Jonathan. His comments were typically self-indulgent, but articulate, thought provoking, and with some substance.

Pisses me off that TWC insisted on "verifying" accounts via actual identities. It's one thing if everyone has to do it. But now we have ["] and a few dozen other phony, anonymous posters.

What's up with that LJW???

Marius Rowlanski 7 months, 2 weeks ago

kubuckets is where several other members of that group can still be found.

Freddie Garza 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Mitch has "figured it out". It's that same type of thing that we saw with Landon Lucas...guy was frustrating as all get out for about 2 and a half seasons, had his lightbulb moment midway through his junior season, and immediately transformed into one of the more reliable guys on the team. Not anything special in terms of putting up eye popping numbers or anything, but you just felt more secure when he was on the court as compared to some of the other guys at that time.

I think that's now where we are with Mitch. He's not the second coming of Raef LaFrentz by any stretch, but you just feel a little more comfortable with him on the floor, especially in light of the injuries and the NCAA suspensions.

Looking for Mitch to be solid from start to finish next season.

Matt Stone 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Was a great game for Precious Achiuwa to see! Hoping that helps influence him and his decision to come here next year. If not, then hoping Matthew Hurt is still serious about KU.

Matt Stone 7 months, 2 weeks ago

BTW, did anyone really care other than KSU fans about Nate Bukaty getting in that kids face with the scoresheet? I think it was harmless and not near as bad as the FU KU chants from most KSU fans when we played there.

Bill Lamson 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I actually thought that was pretty childish, especially for a professional sitting courtside. I'm not trying to sound preachy, but that's something I'd expect to see from a 10 year old, not an adult at a college ball game. Sure it's not as bad as yelling FU KU, but you expect that from college kids. The first thing I thought when I saw it was "dude, grow up."

RJ King 7 months, 2 weeks ago

And he's media (even tho was there as a fan). He should absolutely know better.

Jonathan Allison 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I missed the game... did we storm the court???

no?! didn't think so ;)

Ken Stclair 7 months, 2 weeks ago

No but I think they raised a banner commemorating some Sweet 16 appearance :)

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Storming the court is disrespectful to the home coach. Keep the floor clean kids.

Brad Watson 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Mitch is still developing and last night he did a lot of good things....but he has a lot of things that need improvement.....the refs let them play last night...which helped.....he still needs work ...lots of work....but I was happy to see the kid have a good game....he works extremely hard and brings a spark consistently when he enters the game...I love that......I love HUSTLE.... guys with a natural motor....he has that....I look forward to see how much he can continue to improve.... over the remainder of his time here....Keep at it!

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 7 months, 2 weeks ago

It was interesting to see him using some of dedric's moves. He could be a great big man coach given his love of learning the game.

Ken Stclair 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I like them both on the floor at the same time.....offense seemed to flow better (defense too)

Stuart Corder 7 months, 2 weeks ago

It’s about time Mitch Lightfoot got some respect. He’s always played with this energy and defensive aggression, and this reward is long overdue.

Good, BIG win Jayhawks!

Now, if we want to continue the streak, we will have to overcome back to back road games and a potentially super motivated Baylor.

Ken Stclair 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I think they will beat OSU and Baylor. But OU will be a problem on the road.

David Howell 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Do they have googles tinted that make the opponents gym floor like Allen Fieldhouse ?

And did anyone miss Fran Fraschilla not being on the broadcast last night ?!

Great job Lightfoot ................

RJ King 7 months, 2 weeks ago

K-State fans missed Fraschilla. They love him. And dislike Bilas.

Freddie Garza 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm going to say something good about a K-State player...I know he's coming off an injury to his foot and wasn't as effective last night as people have gotten used to him being. But I think Dean Wade is an NBA basketball player. The kid I think is woefully underrated on NBA draft boards with many having him going undrafted.

I think he's too good a player. If I'm an NBA GM, I'd be salivating over the prospect of this guy falling to me in the second round.

Bj Cassady 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Congrats hawks. You guys played tough. Got on the floor unlike at Tech. Poured you heart out and got a W against a great team. Nice to see Grimes wake up.

Darrel Stice 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I know this is random, but has anyone else realized that without Vick, we have no one for senior night. While that's not really a huge deal, it's a game we never lose, partly because AFH is so juiced along with all the players. It'd be awful to lose the league by laying an egg on the last regular season game against Baylor, assuming we are still in it at that point.

[''] 7 months, 2 weeks ago

So. What! Keep Vick away. Good riddance! We can go crazy clapping for a senior manager or stat keeper.

Edward Daub 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Comment #59 - Once upon a time, Jay Scott completely stopped posting for a year.

It was like manna from heaven.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.