Kansas defeats Kansas State, 62-58

  • 12:30 p.m., Feb. 29, 2020
  • Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, KS

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Follow the Leader: KU point guard Devon Dotson propels top-ranked Kansas to hard-fought win at K-State

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (1) makes a basket in front of Kansas State guard DaJuan Gordon (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (1) makes a basket in front of Kansas State guard DaJuan Gordon (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)


Manhattan — There was no ugly ending this time between top-ranked Kansas and Kansas State, just an ugly game that came before it.

In Saturday’s rematch of a Kansas win in January in Lawrence that ended with an all-out brawl between the two Sunflower State rivals, poor offensive performances underscored KU’s 62-58 victory.

But the Jayhawks made enough plays on both ends in the final five minutes to survive a scare from their in-state rivals in front of an electric-as-always K-State crowd at Bramlage Coliseum.

“Overall, our offensive execution was so poor,” KU coach Bill Self said after the victory. “That was going to be a game where whoever got stops down the stretch was going to win.”

That team was Kansas, which improved to 26-3 overall and moved into sole possession of first place in the Big 12 Conference, at 15-1, following Baylor’s Saturday loss at TCU.

Kansas now has an opportunity to clinch at least a share of the Big 12 title with a win on Wednesday against TCU at Allen Fieldhouse.

“To think that going into last Saturday we (were) a game back and now (could) be a game up is something I would not have imagined,” Self said after the victory.

A big reason the Jayhawks took over the pole position in the Big 12 title race was sophomore point guard Devon Dotson, who led all scorers with 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting in Saturday’s grind.

Playing much of the second half without senior center Udoka Azubuike, who rolled his ankle early in the first half but managed to come back and play limited minutes the rest of the way, Dotson was forced to shoulder most of the scoring load for the Jayhawks in the 38 minutes he played.

So he did. Driving to the rim time after time and hitting eight clutch free throws in eight trips to the line, Dotson helped Kansas build a 9-point lead early. He then played a key role in bringing the Jayhawks back from a four-point deficit in the second half.

At one point, after KU’s lead was trimmed to just two (21-19) late in the first half, Dotson scored nine consecutive points for Kansas that allowed the Jayhawks to regain control. Four points came on drives to the rim. Three came on his lone 3-point make (in three tries) of the day. And the final two came at the free throw line.

“He was great,” said KU freshman Christian Braun. “He kind of carried us. It wasn’t even what he was doing scoring or on the defensive end. He was great on both ends, but he even stepped up as a leader, giving everybody else confidence when Dok was out.”

That confidence carried over to Braun, who hit what Self called the shot of the game right in front of the K-State student section.

In a game that had devolved into dead-heat crawl through mud to the finish with 9:48 to play, the Jayhawks led 50-48 just before Braun’s big shot.

After catching a pass from David McCormack on the wing, the native Kansan who torched the Wildcats for six 3-pointers in the first meeting drilled the his second 3-pointer of this game to put KU up 53-48 with 4:53 to play.

Kansas State (9-20 overall, 2-14 Big 12) called timeout after the 3 but the Wildcats never really recovered.

“Huge,” said Dotson of Braun’s shot. “Dave gave him a nice pass and he found the target and knocked it down. That changed the momentum of the game, which led to some more things after that.”

Braun gave credit for the make to Dotson, who Braun said kept telling him and others to stay confident and pull the trigger.

“We couldn’t buy a shot the whole game,” said Braun, whose 3-pointer ended an 0-for-8 3-point stretch in the second half. “We didn’t play very well. But, you know, when we needed one, we needed somebody that would just let it go.”

KU, which now has won 14 games in a row, shot 4-of-15 from 3-point range (26.7%) and 18-of-43 overall (41.9%) but limited the Wildcats to 39.6% shooting from the floor.

After the timeout, and another KU defensive stop, Dotson delivered his own shot of the game, an and-one driving layup in transition over K-State forward Levi Stockard III.

Dotson’s free throw that followed the tough layup put Kansas up 56-48 with 4:03 to play. McCormack and Marcus Garrett followed that up with two tough shots of their own in the paint and Kansas hit enough free throws down the stretch to hold off K-State’s late charge.

“Dot (got) 25 on his own for the most part,” Self said. “Because we didn’t have a lot of guys offensively step up and help him. That was huge.”

While Saturday’s game was much different from the first meeting in which the Jayhawks put up 81 points in an easy win, it was the non-basketball stuff, before and after the KU victory, that was most noticeable.

Dotson played a role in that, too.

Standing above the 3-point line while KSU big man Mawol Mawien shot free throws with 6 seconds to play in a five-point game, Dotson was seen laughing with K-State guard Cartier Diarra.

“That’s my boy,” Dotson said of Diarra. “We talk pretty often. We worked some camps in the summer. And he was just cracking jokes. He was killing me. He’s funny. I think it’s great that there wasn’t any bickering back and forth. It was a tough game and it was good for the fans and for everybody.”

Self agreed, saying that the pregame handshake between the two teams at midcourt was an attempt to put all of the ugliness of the brawl firmly in the past.

“My sport supervisor, Sean Lester, and I talked about it and we both thought it’d be a good idea,” said Self of the pregame pleasantries that set the tone for the hard-fought but peaceful game. “So we approached K-State about it and they concurred. What happened at our place was an embarrassment to both teams, both schools and (there is) certainly no place for it. But we’ve never had a problem with K-State’s players. And they’ve never had a problem with our players. ... So I think that was a way to hopefully show people that it’s still just a competition. I don’t know how it was received, but I think it was received well (by) the players.”


Barry Weiss 1 year ago

It did seem like once K-State took that small lead in the second half, it sort of woke up our defense and we started getting some great stops. We always have that tough defense to fall back on when our shots are not falling.

Dirk Medema 1 year ago

The place was half electric right? The half that was occupied? It was a bit amazing to see the one entire end of the building empty for a rivalry game? Even non-rival schools seem to be able to fill their gymnasiums when we come to town.

Bryce Landon 1 year ago

Bramlage Coliseum holds 12,528 for basketball. According to the figures I checked, only 9,003 showed up for this game.

Yeah, it does feel weird to think that a KU-KSU game in Manhattan wouldn't see a full house like it does most years. You know you're in trouble when you can't even fill your own arena for a game with your biggest rival anymore. Bruce Weber might get a pink slip at season's end.

Dane Pratt 1 year ago

I don't have my finger on the pulse of K-State basketball but there has been a contingency of fans who have wanted him fired almost from the beginning. He's arguably the best coach they've had since Kruger.

BTW, what does it say about your program when an alum leaves what should be a dream job for another program.

Bryce Landon 1 year ago

Better than Frank Martin? He was pretty good during his five seasons at KSU.

Dane Pratt 1 year ago

Ehhh, maybe. Frank had a higher winning percentage but Bruce has won two conference titles. Would probably give Frank the edge for turning the program around which was pretty dismal before he arrived.

Somewhere between Lon Kruger and Frank Martin there was a coach lamenting over yet another loss to KU by saying something like, they (KU) have lots of players we want and we (KSU) have no players they want.

Dale Rogers 1 year ago

Matt, don't you think calling the ending of the earlier game an "all-out brawl" is a bit sensationalist? If I recall there was a lot of pushing, shoving, but nobody wrestled anyone to the floor and beat on them. And there were few if any serious punches thrown. Just a thought.

Dirk Medema 1 year ago

You're the first person I've heard not refer to that as a brawl; all-out or otherwise. There were plenty of punches thrown, several players went to the ground with who knows what beatings happening out of camera view, both benches cleared, it spilled into the stands and the handicapped section at that, not to mention the infamous chair raising. There have been a couple worse, but that was plenty.

Dale Rogers 1 year ago

Off topic. A friend, an avid USC alum/fan, asked me a question and I don't have the answer. What is Bill Self's record as KU HC in AFH? I know it's amazing, something like 250-14 but when I google this I get nothing but the record from years ago. Anyone have the current numbers? Thanks.

Dane Pratt 1 year ago

Was a bit surprised to see all the empty seats in a “rivalry” game.

Bramlage holds 12,500. Wonder why they abandoned Ahearn whose capacity is only 300 less.

Dirk Medema 1 year ago

I think it was something in the lease agreement. We did own that place.

Bryce Landon 1 year ago

We've definitely owned Bramlage, that's for sure. But I have no idea what our record was in Ahearn, although we did win the final five games played in Ahearn from 1984-88.

Dane Pratt 1 year ago

It’s a great looking arena, looks like a smaller version of Allen. Bramlage was supposed to seat 16,000 but was paired back for cost reasons and ultimately accommodated only 300 more fans than Ahearn which is still in use today. 1988 was their last season in Ahearn which coincidentally is pretty much the watermark for when the program started to decline. They had a pretty good program back in the day, three trips to the final four in the 50’s and 60’s. Oh well, their loss.

Bryce Landon 1 year ago

As I understand, Ahearn Fieldhouse could hold 12,220 as of their final season, 1987-88. Bramlage Coliseum's original capacity was 13,500 when it opened in 1988-89. That was the capacity until 2001, when it was reduced to 13,340 to accomodate fire codes, and then further reduced to 12,528 in 2007, with the addition of luxury suites and upgrading the handicapped section to meet compliance standards.

Tony Bandle 1 year ago

Please verify this..I don't think it's been updated...I'm pretty sure Baylor was the 14th loss and I think there are more wins.

Dirk Medema 1 year ago

The bio linked starts with "In 15 seasons at KU". '03-'04 was his first season, making this his 17th season, so the bio is indeed outdated. At least 14 losses and lots more wins.

Dirk Medema 1 year ago

21-1 at "home" over the last 2 season (per the site). One "home" game per season outside AFH, so 253-14.

Kit Duncan 1 year ago

The empty seats could be season ticket holders being “fair weather” fans and not students. Kind of like the folks who left the Phog before the miracle comeback against WVU a few years back.

Bryce Landon 1 year ago

It sucks that we struggled that mightily with a last-place team for most of the game, although I understand Udoka's absence because of his ankle had something to do with that. (I was unable to watch the game.) But I'm glad we got the stops and big plays when we needed them and made them play worse than we did. If that's how we have to win, so be it.

Kit Duncan 1 year ago

Funny, the totals are updated on every pregame video at the Phog, yet they don’t keep their own website up to date. 😉. Go figure.

Dirk Medema 1 year ago

Bryce - Definitely agree that it would have been much nicer to blow them out again. On the flip side it is fantastic that we weren’t a part of Upset Saturday. The majority of the top 25 games were upsets and 3 of the 4 top 10 Ls were to unranked teams. I think it was Dotson that said, “Survive and Advance” as many have said before.

Dirk Medema 1 year ago

Dane and Bryce - What does it say about your program when a year after breaking your rival’s stranglehold on conference championships and making a deep run in March the coach is now on the hot seat.

Dane Pratt 1 year ago

IDK but I don't think he should be on the hot seat. They are really a stepping stone program and in the long run will be better off with Bruce than to replace him with someone who will only leave for greener pastures.

Creg Bohrer 1 year ago

Bramlage.. AKA Allen Field House West.

Clark Groseth 1 year ago

I don't know about y'all, but I thought KState played extremely well compared to the way they played at Allen. Well enough that my beautiful Dukie wife kept asking, "How are those guys 2 and 14?" Of course she was still reeling from the way Duke had played lately....

Dane Pratt 1 year ago

If it's the most important game on your schedule you probably play better than your record.

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