Saturday, March 16, 2019
Kansas City, Mo. — Kansas was unable to make amends for the letting its NCAA-record streak of 14 consecutive regular-season conference titles come to an end.
Iowa State and KU traded punches for the first 15 minutes of the Big 12 championship game Saturday night at the Sprint Center. The Cyclones stretched their lead to double digits over the final five minutes and staved off any charge by the Jayhawks in the second half to secure a 78-66 victory.
This marks the seventh consecutive season that either KU or ISU has won the Big 12 tournament. Over that span, the Cyclones have claimed four of those crowns, including a win over the Jayhawks in 2015.
But in a lot of ways, the result was fitting for a young team with well-document struggles on the road.
Prior to Saturday, Kansas had won its previous five games on a neutral site. In the championship game, however, the roar from the Iowa State fans grew louder throughout the second half with each made shot by ISU. Kansas, meanwhile, struggled to get much going on the offensive end to mount a serious comeback.
Kansas trimmed the deficit to 70-61 at the 2:53 mark, but Iowa State never wavered in the final minutes. Dedric Lawson was issued a technical with 1:21 left to play after spiking the ball in frustrations.
In the loss, Lawson led the team with 18 points on 8-of-21 shooting. Freshman Devon Dotson scored 17 points, while freshman Quentin Grimes notched 10 points to join him in double figures. Iowa State had four players reach double figures, including a 17-point performance from Lindell Wigginton.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: Freshman Devon Dotson picked up his second foul late in the first half.
Dotson was called for a reach-in foul on Talen Horton-Tucker at the 5:29 mark, which sent him to the bench with two fouls. At the time, Kansas trailed by a 23-21 margin after trading punches with Iowa State.
The Cyclones took advantage of the talented point guard being on the sideline. Iowa State stretched its lead to 32-21 by the 1:51 mark before Dotson was ultimately put back in the game. ISU led by a 32-22 margin at the intermission, though that stretch proved to be the difference maker.
• Offensive highlight: There weren’t too many offensive highlights to point to on a night where KU struggled to hit shots.
A majority of KU’s scoring came from layups, as Dotson notched a few nifty layups through traffic. As a team, Kansas made all of its shots in the first half from inside the paint. KU produced 20 points in the paint. The Jayhawks did not make a single shot attempt from outside the paint in the first 20 minutes of the game.
In fact, arguably the best first-half bucket came from freshman Quentin Grimes on a layup in transition.
• Defensive highlight: This is cheating, but the defensive highlight of the game was also an offensive highlight.
Grimes swatted a layup attempt by Nick Weiler-Babb at the 9:40 mark, his second block of the contest at the time. Grimes then was rewarded with a bucket on the other end, which warranted a huge roar from the Kansas faithful at the Sprint Center.
Grimes netted a reverse layup off an assist by sophomore Marcus Garrett, falling to the floor before celebrating from the ground.
•Up next: Kansas will compete in the NCAA tournament, with the first round taking place next week.