No. 3 Kansas claimed the first installment of the Sunflower Showdown. And it wasn’t particularly close.
One year after K-State helped end KU’s streak of Big 12 regular season titles, the Jayhawks overwhelmed their in-state rival from start to finish. A decisive run in the first half was all Kansas would need en route to a 81-60 win over Kansas State on Tuesday in Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks (15-3, 5-1 Big 12) have now won 14 consecutive home meetings against the Wildcats. Kansas leads the overall series with Kansas State, 198-94, including 91-35 record in games played in Lawrence.
There was even some local flavor in KU’s latest win against K-State (8-10, 1-5 Big 12) on Tuesday. Freshman Christian Braun, who is originally from Burlington, Kansas and was recruited by KSU, drilled a career-best six 3-pointers. He led the Jayhawks with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting.
View a gallery of images from Tuesday night's game between the Jayhawks and Wildcats at Allen Fieldhouse.
Sophomore point guard Devon Dotson (18 points) and senior center Udoka Azubuike (10 points) joined Braun in double figures in the win. Kansas State, which scored 84 points in a win over West Virginia this past weekend, was held to just 56 points in the loss to Kansas.
Then, this happened in the final seconds of the contest.
Here was another angle:
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: The Jayhawks took over after a sloppy start.
A few turnovers allowed both KU and K-State to be tied, 7-7, at the first media timeout. After that, the Jayhawks asserted their dominance. They played elite defense in half-court situations, and it often led to easy buckets in transition.
At the same time, Kansas attempted more shots from deep on the offensive end due to K-State’s emphasis on guarding the paint. It all culminated in a 19-2 run over a five-minute stretch to give Kansas a 26-9 advantage by the 10:30 mark in the first half.
The Wildcats, who have not won multiple games in a row since November, never really had a shot after that.
• Offensive highlight: Freshman Christian Braun was a key producer early on for Kansas.
During KU’s decisive run in the first half, the Blue Valley Northwest product drained a trio of 3-pointers for the hosts. It was enough to match his previous career-high in 3-pointers, which Braun has done in three other games. He then hit three more triples in the second half for good measure.
Braun’s early success from deep helped the Jayhawks break the game open, and they were more comfortable taking such shots the rest of the night.
• Defensive highlight: Entering Tuesday's Sunflower Showdown, Kansas was ranked No. 1 in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom.
That was evident from the jump, as the Jayhawks were smothering the opposition in half-court sets. Kansas State didn’t reach double-digits until there was 8:09 left in the first half, though the score was well out of reach by then.
KU’s guards took advantage of some turnovers on the perimeter by turning those mistakes into easy points on the other end. On this particular play, sophomore Ochai Agbaji was in the right place at the right time for the putback after Devon Doston’s initial steal.
• Up next: Kansas will play host to Tennessee on Saturday.