Postgame Report Card: Kansas 84, Oklahoma State 72
Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 84-72 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.
A slow start from 3-point range kept KU from building anything larger than a 6-point lead in the first half. Then the Jayhawks needed some late-half 3-pointers from Ochai Agbaji to head into the locker room tied with the Cowboys.
KU wasn’t finding a lot of easy baskets in the paint in the first 20 minutes, when they scored just 12 inside, leading to the tight game against the Big 12’s ninth-place team.
But the Jayhawks opened up the second half by establishing Dedric Lawson as a focal point and high-percentage looks and some needed energy followed for the Jayhawks.
KU shot 51.5 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes.
Some defensive breakdowns late in the first half allowed OSU to score easily and head to halftime with some confidence.
While Kansas didn’t allow OSU to take a ton of 3-pointers, the defense often left the Cowboys’ most capable shooters open for great looks when they did take them. The Cowboys shot 9 for 20 from long range and the makes always seemed timely.
Ultimately OSU wasn’t able to hoist enough 3-point bombs to keep pace with the home team, and the Cowboys shot 38 percent from the floor in the second half.
Although David McCormack made the first start of his career, it was, of course, Dedric Lawson who did most of the damage inside for Kansas.
Lawson began to take over in the second half, exactly when KU needed him to. His smooth finishing and shooting touch were on full display, but so was his passing, decision-making and feel for the game, as the Jayhawks’ most talented player put up 25 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
McCormack had trouble making much of an impact early, though his energy and effort and want-to was plenty evident.
The freshman’s 10 first-half minutes netted 1 rebound and 0 points. By the end of the game, McCormack had played just 4 more minutes and had 0 points and 5 boards to show for his starting debut.
Playing without two potential starters in Marcus Garrett (injured ankle) and Lagerald Vick (leave of absence), Kansas went with a three-guard lineup versus the Cowboys.
Devon Dotson’s innate ability to find steals and take off the other way for a bucket reached new heights in the first half, when the freshman delivered the first dunk of his KU career. A few minutes later he had an even more impressive finish on a layup, because he was challenged this time, by OSU big Yor Anei, and finished off glass over the 6-foot-10 freshman.
With Vick out of the mix, Kansas definitely needs someone stepping up in the scoring department and Dotson did his part Saturday, putting up 18 points to go with his 4 assists and 5 rebounds.
Fellow freshman Ochai Agbaji, one of four freshmen in the starting lineup, was even better in that department, providing the offense with a real boost, as well. Agbaji (23 points, 5-for-7 on 3-pointers, 6 rebounds) drained 3 of 4 from 3-point range in the first half, as KU entered the locker room tied with the Cowboys at 36.
Freshman Quentin Grimes (6 points, 4 rebounds) had a difficult start to his day, twice called for a charge while trying to be aggressive off the dribble. He didn’t score until the 12:20 mark of the second half, but his contributions proved timely, as a pair of 3-pointers in a little more than a minute, out of a timeout, pushed KU’s lead to 8.
Mitch Lightfoot and Charlie Moore were the first players off KU’s bench, and got in much earlier than they would have a couple of weeks back, when they were at the end of the rotation.
Lightfoot (6 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks) pleased the crowd in the first half by going all out for a tough defensive rebound at one point and later on challenging Cameron McGriff for a would-be highlight dunk that ended a foul.
Lightfoot, who started the second half in place of McCormack, got the half off to an electric start on defense by smothering a would-be Anei dunk attempt up in the air.
Moore came out firing off the bench, but was 1 for 5 in the first half and missed all 3 of his 3-point tries. The redshirt sophomore finished with 4 points.