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Postgame Report Card: Kansas 74, Villanova 71

Villanova guard Phil Booth (5) puts up a three over Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Villanova guard Phil Booth (5) puts up a three over Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 74-71 win over Villanova on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: C+

KU got off to a promising start and an 8-1 lead with a couple of early 3-pointers — one from Devon Dotson and another from Lagerald Vick, who was back in the starting lineup.

Turnovers began to bog down the flow for KU, though, soon after, as the Jayhawks turned the ball over on six of their first 18 possessions.

Mainly due to the soundness of Villanova’s defense, the top-ranked Jayhawks never looked particularly dominant on offense and finished with only nine assists, compared to their 14 turnovers.

KU shooting percentages: 50% field goals; 33.3% 3-pointers; 76.7% free throws.

Defense: B

Some breakdowns early allowed Villanova to get out in front, 13-8, at the 14:33 mark, with Villanova frontcourt players Erick Pascahll (17 points, four rebounds) and Saddiq Bey (seven points, five rebounds) going to work.

KU’s defense picked up soon after, though.

Villanova shot just 38.5 percent from the floor in the first half and only hit 5 of 13 from 3-point range. The Jayhawks held the Wildcats to 31 first-half points but only took a two-point lead into halftime.

In the second half, Villanova made just 3 of 15 3-pointers.

Villanova shooting percentages: 40.7% field goals; 28.6% 3-pointers.

Frontcourt: A-

Dedric Lawson didn’t suffer from the same type of rough start that plagued him a week ago against New Mexico State. Playing inside the fieldhouse against a top-25 team, Lawson looked far more comfortable and put up 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting by halftime.

With KU playing its four-guard lineup almost exclusively, Lawson logged 38 minutes and co-starred with Vick to push KU past its Big East foe. Lawson produced a double-double, with 28 points and 12 rebounds.

As usual, the only issue with Lawson was his interior defense, where he too often gives way to assertive takes.

Backcourt: C+

Vick knocked in a couple of 3-pointers in the first half, giving KU some backcourt support for Lawson. But Dotson ran into some issues with fouls, as did Grimes, who struggled to find his footing.

In such a rhythm offensively that even contested, long 2-point jumpers were dropping for him, Vick took off in the second half, giving the Jayhawks the perfect perimeter complement to Lawson.

Almost none of Vick’s and Lawson’s teammates had it going, and it didn’t cost the No. 1 team nearly as much as that kind of imbalance should have, mainly because Vick was so good.

Plus, Vick came through with as important of a defensive rebound as there was in the game after he threw away an inbounds pass in the final minute.

Vick put up 29 points and seven rebounds. Dotson had 11 points and one assist, and Grimes played only 14 minutes, providing a single point. Dotson’s acrobatic drive and finish in crunch time put KU up 63-58.

Marcus Garrett’s defense makes him irreplaceable, as he finished with four steals — even if he provided little in terms of offense, with one point and three assists.

None of KU’s guards could wrangle crafty senior Phil Booth, who finished with 29 points and two assists.

Bench: C

KJ Lawson dished to a rolling Mitch Lightfoot for a layup in the later stages of the first half, when KU had three backups on the floor at once and needed some scoring.

With Grimes picking up three first-half fouls and Dotson two, Kansas had to rely more than usual on its bench early. Charlie Moore struggled, turning the ball over three times and fouling twice in his first 14 minutes off the bench, which included neither an assist or a point from the sophomore point guard.

KJ Lawson was active if not effective and Lightfoot helped out defensively, at one point forcing Paschall to travel. In the second half, with the game tight, Lightfoot made a solid block inside on Bey.

With Moore scoring two points and Lightfoot adding two, KU outscored Villanova’s bench 4-0.

Reply 10 comments from Surrealku Joe Ross Dane Pratt Robert  Brock Dale Rogers Cassadys Darrel Stice

Postgame Report Card: Kansas 63, New Mexico State 60

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) tangles with New Mexico State forward C.J. Bobbitt (13) and New Mexico State forward Ivan Aurrecoechea (15) as they fight for a rebound during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 at Sprint Center.

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) tangles with New Mexico State forward C.J. Bobbitt (13) and New Mexico State forward Ivan Aurrecoechea (15) as they fight for a rebound during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

Kansas City, Mo. — Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 63-60 win over New Mexico State on Saturday night at Sprint Center.

Offense: C

The starting lineup didn’t miss Lagerald Vick in the opening minutes versus the Aggies. Charlie Moore came out attacking, as did Quentin Grimes, helping KU jump out to a 12-2 lead.

But that flow didn’t continue for long. With Dedric Lawson missing some bunnies inside and KU turning the ball over on six of its first 20 possessions, New Mexico State eventually took a 22-21 lead with fewer than 6:00 left in the first half.

By intermission, Kansas was shooting 34.4 percent from the floor and turned the ball over eight times on 31 possessions.

The offense remained choppy in the second half, keeping the outcome in doubt into crunch time.

KU shot 43 percent overall and 7-for-21 on 3-pointers.

Defense: B

It was hard to find a ton of fault with KU’s defense in the first half. Sure, there were breakdowns here and there, like getting beat backdoor or showing a lack of help defense. But KU did hold the Aggies to 28 first-half points and 3-for-12 3-point shooting.

The biggest issues in the first half usually led to NMSU scoring inside, where the underdog put up 18 points and KU had only 12.

The Aggies kept getting the shots they wanted in the second half, and extended their lead to 51-44.

NMSU connected on 46 percent of its shots and went 7-for-26 on 3-pointers. And the Aggies won points in the paint, 36-32.

KU’s defense played well enough in the final minutes for the nation’s No. 2 team to leave with a win.

Frontcourt: C+

The offense needs to run through Lawson, especially with Udoka Azubuike out with an ankle sprain. But that strategy wasn’t working in the first half. Sometimes teammates threw bad entry passes. Other times Lawson just mishandled the ball on catches or during takes to the rim.

And when Lawson struggles, it doesn’t seem this team yet has someone who will automatically step up and pick up the slack. So the whole offense went ragged as the junior forward tried to work his way through first-half struggles.

Lawson also often ended up out of position trying to defend NMSU big Ivan Aurrecoechea (14 points).

NMSU, on many occasions, outworked KU on the glass, and the final rebound totals read: Aggies 37, Jayhawks 36.

The junior forward’s biggest impact came on the offensive glass, where Lawson grabbed five rebounds.

He finally found some semblance of a rhythm late, scoring back-to-back baskets inside (one on a put-back) to tie the game at 53. His second-chance basket later pushed KU ahead 57-55. The next trip down the floor, Lawson made his first 3 of the night for a 60-57 lead.

HIs drive to the paint to draw contact and get to the foul line with less than a minute to play, gave him two free throws and KU a 62-59 lead.

On a mercurial evening for KU’s best player, Lawson finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Backcourt: C

Devon Dotson often looks like the team’s most dynamic player with the ball in his hands. But the freshman point guard continues to learn when he can make the most of that ability.

When Dotson (eight points) is driving into the paint, good things tend to happen. And he delivered one of his steal-and-fastbreak layup sequences early in the second half.

But it was sophomore Marcus Garrett who was the team’s most complete guard much of the night. Garrett (10 points,, two assists) even knocked in multiple 3-pointers (2-for-4). His defensive awareness and mostly solid decisions on offense weren’t enough for KU to roll. But they were needed on an often stagnant night.

Freshman Quentin Grimes (five points) looked good early, driving in for a basket inside and hitting a 3-pointer, but failed to provide much offense after that.

Moore, who started in Vick’s place, had a similar drought in terms of making an impact. The typical backup finished with five points on 2-for-7 shooting.

Bench: C+

Baskets were scarce for KU at Sprint Center and the team needed Vick to deliver some sort of offensive spark. The senior guard was ineffective most of the night, and finished with five points on 2-for-8 shooting.

Mitch Lightfoot got one of the loudest rises out of the crowd near the 12:00 mark of the second half by running the floor on a Vick steal and getting rewarded with a pass for a two-handed jam that cut NMSU’s lead to 46-42.

Lightfoot, who drew a pair of second-half charges, played with energy and it showed in his stat line: seven points, six rebounds in 18 minutes.

Freshman big David McCormack wasn’t much of a factor, playing only four minutes.

NMSU out-scored KU’s bench 19-15.

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Marcus Garrett’s defensive versatility makes it easy for KU to shift to 4-guard lineup

Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) moves to the bucket past Wofford center Matthew Pegram (50) during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) moves to the bucket past Wofford center Matthew Pegram (50) during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Your best post player goes down. Time for another to step up, right?

Not for this Kansas basketball team.

The absence of center Udoka Azubuike, no matter how long the 7-footer’s right ankle sprain keeps him out of the lineup, doesn’t necessarily mean more minutes for the frontcourt reserves who have been backing him up.

Head coach Bill Self loved the talents of Azubuike and Dedric Lawson too much to not go big and play them together. But now that his starting center is out, Self’s ready to adapt by reviving the four-guard look that worked so well for the Jayhawks the past couple of seasons.

While Lawson, a 6-foot-9 redshirt junior, isn’t the type of low-post player Azubuike is, Self isn’t going to ask his versatile forward, who leads the No. 2 Jayhawks in scoring (19 points per game), rebounds (10.7) and assists (3.1) to try to be someone he’s not. And Self has no intention of forcing junior Mitch Lightfoot or freshman David McCormack into the lineup as a pseudo-Dok just because that’s the style KU played during its 7-0 start.

The offense will start running through Lawson even more now, as guards Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes, Lagerald Vick and Marcus Garrett play around him. If Lawson (32.7 minutes a game) needs a breather, then Self will turn to either Lightfoot (6.6 minutes) or McCormack (4.5 minutes) a little more than he has previously.

But even when KU is faced with defending a team that plays two bigs together, Self doesn’t think that will force him to match it. Garrett, a 6-5 sophomore guard, proved earlier this week in KU’s 72-47 victory over Wofford he can more than hold his own as the 4-man, the role occupied in recent four-guard lineups by Svi Mykhailiuk and Josh Jackson.

“We defended them so much better with Marcus on their big guy,” Self said of one factor that convinced KU’s coaching staff to start Garrett instead of another big in Azubuike’s spot. “I have confidence in Marcus defending the 4-man. Now we may need to trap the post or do some things like that. But I think that’s good for us.”

Ask a guard about the in-season modification to the Jayhawks’ style and he’ll think about what it will do for the offense.

“That gives us a bunch of freedom,” Grimes said of Garrett joining the starting lineup. “Really whoever gets (the ball on a defensive stop), all five can essentially bring it. So I think it’s definitely going to help us out for sure.”

Grimes envisions not only he and Vick catching more lobs but also he and Garrett throwing more of them.

“I think it’ll be really fun,” Grimes said.

Self, though, isn’t moving to a four-guard lineup because he’s concerned about anyone’s enjoyment or entertainment. He’s backing away from a two-big approach because Garrett’s defensive versatility makes it an easy decision.

“He’s got good size, he’s got long arms,” Self began, when asked how Garrett is able to guard both perimeter and post players. “But he is very, very smart. As far as IQ and understanding the game on the defensive side, he’s right up there with the best that we’ve ever had. And he’s tough. And he’s strong. And he pays attention to scouting reports. So he knows when to show, when not to show, when to front. … He just does a better job, I’d say, than the majority of college players out there early in his career, because he does have a great feel defensively.”

And, believe it or not, Self and his staff have long thought this year’s KU team has a chance to become “really good” defensively. Self said Thursday that may even end up becoming this group’s identity.

For much of the first six games, that didn’t look to be the case. But Self saw during Tuesday’s win over Wofford glimpses of speed and length and activity from his guards that he and his assistants first witnessed during both the summer and fall.

He’s not ready to call KU a good defensive team yet. Self remembers how his team “stunk” on that end of the floor against Stanford just five days ago. But he has observed both improvement and potential.

If that’s the vision, it may be difficult for either Lightfoot or McCormack to play huge minutes, even if they play well. KJ Lawson and Charlie Moore can step into the four-guard lineup around Dedric Lawson as needed. And Lightfoot and McCormack can sub in and still find ways to impact the game.

“We’re similar but still different,” the 6-10 McCormack said of what he and the 6-8 Lightfoot bring. “We’re both high intensity, both hustle players, both rebounders. There’s some aspects that Mitch does that I don’t. Like Mitch might step out and he’ll shoot a 3-pointer every now and then — something I may not do,” McCormack added. “Me, I’m more back to the basket. He may want to face up. So there are some differences, but there are some similarities at the same time.”

McCormack has the build and McDonald’s All-American pedigree to potentially perform his way into more playing time. And Lightfoot remains a strong help-side rim protector, as well as the best Jayhawk at taking charges.

But if neither ends up seeing a huge uptick in minutes while Azubuike is out, you won’t see either of them sulking. They’re two high character teammates, too, who will do all they can to contribute in a four-guard lineup that isn’t built to feature them.


Postgame Report Card: Kansas 72, Wofford 47

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (11) floats in for a bucket during the first half against Wofford on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (11) floats in for a bucket during the first half against Wofford on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 72-47 win over Wofford on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: C+

KU opened with another choppy first half offensively, and only led 29-26 at the break after shooting 13-for-29, with Lagerald Vick coming off the bench because he was late to shootaround.

KU turned the ball over seven times before intermission and only shot 1-for-10 from 3-point range as Vick failed to get one off in 12 minutes. His replacement in the starting lineup, sophomore guard Marcus Garrett, made KU’s only shot from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.

Wofford muddied KU’s offense up early with its gritty defensive effort, often making the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks exert extra effort to find quality looks.

The Terriers finally reached a point where they couldn’t sustain their defensive success around the midway point of the second half, however, as the Jayhawks began to pull away, with Devon Dotson, Dedric Lawson and Quentin Grimes carrying the offense.

KU’s ridiculous 27-0 run helped the home team finish 49.2 percent from the field — even though KU never got going from downtown (3-for-23 on 3-pointers).

Defense: A-

KU struggled much of the first 30 minutes or so to finish stops with defensive boards. The Terriers secured 19 offensive rebounds and scored 12 second-chance points in defeat.

Wofford shot 10-for-29 in the first half and went just 2-for-9 on 3-pointers.

The Jayhawks’ defense began to carry them in the second half, though, as they made a ridiculous run that put Wofford away.

Wofford shot 19.4 percent from the floor in the second half and finished 5-for-26 on 3-pointers in the loss.

Frontcourt: C+

KU’s junior 7-footer, Udoka Azubuike hurt his ankle while contesting a shot with a little less that 12 minutes left in the first half.

David McCormack came in for Azubuike, who did not return, with KU up 13-12 and scored. four straight points

The crowd started to come alive in the second half when Dedric Lawson (20 points, eight rebounds) became a ball-handling big. First Lawson wen coast-to-coast off a defensive rebound for a layup, putting him in double figures with 10 points.

Then Lawson handled off a steal, throwing ahead to Garrett, who stayed in attack mode to drive and dish to Dotson for a successful 3-pointer in the right corner that pushed KU’s lead to 38-32.

Backcourt: B+

Freshman point guard Dotson continued to be the engine the KU offense needed.

Dotson’s steal and lob to Quentin Grimes on the fastbreak with less than 9:00 to go in the second half gave KU a 53-41 advantage, which felt like way more than 12 points the way the game was going at that juncture.

Grimes’ transition basket seemed to get him going, too, and he finished with 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting.

Dotson provided 16 points, three assists and three boards.

Bench: C-

Even without scoring, K.J. Lawson made an immediate impact off the bench in the first half.

The sophomore Lawson brother was responsible for three of KU’s first four assists and his steal near the midway point of the first half led to a fast-break layup for Dotson.

McCormack, too, came in ready to provide energy if nothing else in a brief five minutes of action. At times he was too sped up for his own good. But the freshman big man from Oak Hill Academy scored four quick points when he entered for Azubuike.

Vick wasn’t much of a sixth man, providing no points and three rebounds in 22 minutes.

Charlie Moore shot 2-for-8, and no assists and scored four points.


Jayhawks in need of more 3-point shooting to support Lagerald Vick

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) pulls up for a three over Washburn guard Emeka Ogbonna (32) during the second half of an exhibition, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) pulls up for a three over Washburn guard Emeka Ogbonna (32) during the second half of an exhibition, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Lagerald Vick’s borderline ludicrous 3-point shooting over the course of the Kansas basketball team’s previous five games had the Jayhawks ranked seventh in the country in long-distance accuracy (43.9 percent) entering the week.

Those numbers notwithstanding, on the eve of KU’s seventh game, a home matchup with Wofford, Bill Self wasn’t buying the idea that he’s currently coaching an entire group of effective 3-point shooters.

“It’s so misleading, because Lagerald’s shooting 60 something,” Self said, referencing the senior guard’s 28-for-47 success rate (59.6 percent).

The 16th-year Kansas coach, in fact, was more than aware of the disparity in his team’s 3-point shooting.

Speaking with reporters inside Allen Fieldhouse Monday, Self couldn’t recall the exact number — “I know it’s single figures,” he stated correctly — but he pointed out the rest of the roster had barely contributed to KU’s total of 37 made 3-pointers in the past five games.

Jayhawks not named Vick, in that stretch, accounted for just nine 3-pointers, while the senior guard from Memphis made 28.

Sophomore guard Marcus Garrett (1-for-6 in that span) made one 3-pointer versus Marquette. So did junior forward Dedric Lawson (1-for-5 on 3’s in KU’s past five games).

Charlie Moore (2-for-11 during Vick’s 3-fest) made one against Vermont and one vs. Tennessee.

Freshman guard Quentin Grimes (3-for-12 since going 6-for-10 in the opener against Michigan State) hit two against Vermont and one vs. Louisiana.

KU’s other first-year backcourt starter, Devon Dotson (2-for-5 from 3-point range since his 3-for-5 showing vs. Michigan State) knocked down one in the Vermont game and another against Tennessee.

Sophomore guard K.J. Lawson and junior forward Mitch Lightfoot both attempted one 3-pointer since the opener without making one.

Overall, the rest of the team combined to shoot 9-for-41 (22 percent) in wins over Vermont, Louisiana, Marquette, Tennessee and Stanford while Vick rained in 3-pointers.

“That shows you a lot,” Self said of the disparity. “That we’re fortunate that we have the record we have, but also I think when other guys start seeing the ball go in the hole I think it’ll definitely change our team.”

It’s safe to say No. 2 KU (6-0) would benefit from another player or two stepping up and becoming a consistent 3-point shooting option so Vick doesn’t have to do all the work in that department.

“Yeah, I do agree with that,” Garrett said. “But with the way he’s shooting right now he’s not missing. He’s basically carrying the slack for everyone else. I think down the road we could use a couple more guys knocking in some 3’s like he is.”

So who are the top candidates to fill that role?

Without hesitation, Garrett named redshirt sophomore point guard Moore and freshman shooting guard Grimes.

Self, too, brought up those two names first when presented with the same question.

“Charlie’s made two this year,” Self said with a grin. “Charlie and Q, you’d think, would be the ones, and then Dedric needs to be a guy that can stretch it. He’s only made, I think, one this year, if I’m not mistaken. One or two.”

Indeed, Lawson is 1-for-7 from beyond the arc through six games. A surprising statistic, as Self pointed out, considering Lawson shot 4-for-4 in one exhibition against Washburn and 2-for-4 in the other preseason warmup, against Emporia State.

“We know we have capable guys,” Self said. “But they just haven’t had success knocking them down yet.”

KU’s 3-point Shooting Through 6 Games

Lagerald Vick — 28-for-47 (59.6%)

Quentin Grimes — 9-for-22 (40.9%)

Devon Dotson — 5-for-10 (50%)

Charlie Moore — 2-for-12 (16.7%)

K.J. Lawson — 1-for-2 (50%)

Marcus Garrett — 1-for-6 (16.7%)

Dedric Lawson — 1-for-7 (14.3%)

Mitch Lightfoot — 0-for-1 (0%)

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Postgame Report Card: Kansas 90, Stanford 84 (OT)

Stanford forward Kodye Pugh (5) gets up for a shot against Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Stanford forward Kodye Pugh (5) gets up for a shot against Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 90-84 overtime win over Stanford on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: B-

KU spent much of the first half failing to find a flow on offense.

Twenty minutes into the game that showed in the assist column, where the Jayhawks had only tallied one by intermission.

Only 16 minutes were left in the second half when KU recorded its second assist, a pass out from Udoka Azubuike to Lagerald Vick for a 3-pointer.

The Jayhawks took a turn from the better down the stretch with the help of Vick, Devon Dotson and Dedric Lawson, though.

KU hit 50 percent from the field and knocked down 7 of 16 3-pointers. But the Jayhawks still tallied only 12 assists, compared to 11 turnovers.

Defense: C

Stanford missed a lot of 3-pointers early, but it wasn’t necessarily because of KU’s defense. The Cardinal couldn’t get many open looks to drop as the visitors went 1-for-8 in the first eight minutes.

By halftime Stanford had connected on 5 of 15 from behind the arc and led 35-29.

KU’s issues on the glass often cost the home team. In the final minute Daejon Davis secured an offensive rebound with Stanford up 73-72. That allowed the Cardinal to work the game clock down to 13.3 seconds before Davis (19 points) drove in to draw a foul and make two free throws.

Stanford shot 44.4 percent from the floor, was 12-for-34 on 3-pointers and finished with 36 rebounds to KU’s 37.

Frontcourt: B

KU come out intent on getting their biggest of big men, Azubuike involved on offense. He scored the team’s first basket by shoving home an alley-oop pass from Vick and gave KU an early 6-5 lead on a layup inside.

However, making the junior center a focal point wasn’t perfect. Although he was able to draw fouls inside versus Stanford defenders, the 7-footer’s well-documents free throw woes were on display in the game’s opening minutes, as Azubuike missed all three of his attempts at the foul line before subbing out for the first time, about five minutes into the nonconference matchup.

Lawson first asserted himself shortly after Azubuike subbed out, by gathering an offensive rebound inside and scoring through contact for an and-one.

Before long, Lawson had put up double-digit scoring numbers, looking smoother than ever while doing so. One board shy of a double-double by halftime, Lawson put up 13 points and nine rebounds and carried KU offensively before the break.

Conversely, Azubuike, as has been the trend of late, picked up a foul on offense while posting up once he re-entered in the first half, so he went right back to the bench. He played eight minutes in the half, producing four points and three rebounds.

Incredibly, Azubuike recovered to produce 18 points and nine rebounds with a much more effective second half.

Lawson easily got his double-double, finishing with 24 points and 15 rebounds. The versatile big also made sure KU got some easy points at the foul line, where he went 10-for-11.

No other KU bigs were a factor.

Backcourt: B-

With the 3-point shot not even qualifying as a weapon for the Jayhawks for the first 24 minutes of the game, KU’s guards did little to help the offense get going against Stanford in the first half.

The Jayhawks missed all six of their 3-point attempts in the first half. They finally got one to drop at the 16:00 mark of the second half, when Vick drained one to get a subdued fieldhouse crowd out of its collective seats. That made KU 1 of 8 on 3-pointers and cut Stanford’s lead to 43-34.

KU would have been buried by the well-coached, tough-minded Cardinal if it hadn’t been for the second half emergence of Vick and freshman point guard Devon Dotson.

Vick’s 7-for-11 3-point shooting gave KU the spark it needed and a couple of his most timely long-range bombs came off Dotson drives to the paint, when the freshman created the space Vick needed for a high-percentage look.

Vick’s clutch 3-pointer forced overtime in a game Stanford had a chance to steal in hostile Allen Fieldhouse. His 3 to open OT gave KU a lead. In full-on takeover mode, Vick followed that with a baseline jam that doubled as a dagger before nailing yet another 3-pointer to make it 83-75.

Incredible show.

Vick finished with 27 points and five rebounds, while Dotson had 10points and four assists.

Freshman guard Quentin Grimes played 16 minutes and shot 1-for-6, scoring only two points.

Bench: C-

Back healthy after missing KU’s win over Tennessee with concussion-like symptoms, sophomore guard Marcus Garrett returned to the lineup and his defense was the best attribute the bench provided.

Garrett finished with four steals and turned one of them into a fast-break dunk for himself. He also broke a 62-all tie with a drive and jam with less than five minutes to play.

Charlie Moore drove into the paint and handed the falloff to Lawson for a layup to give KU an easy basket in crunch time.

With 59.9 seconds on the clock, and KU down 73-71, Moore drove into the paint, drawing a foul and getting to the free throw line. The sophomore point guard missed the first and made the second.

Stanford out-scored KU 14-9 in bench points.

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Postgame Report Card: Kansas 87, Tennessee 81 (OT)

Kansas guard Charlie Moore (2) shoots over Tennessee guard Jordan Bowden (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Kansas guard Charlie Moore (2) shoots over Tennessee guard Jordan Bowden (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger) by Associated Press

Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 87-81 overtime win over Tennessee Friday night at the NIT Season Tip-Off, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Offense: B-

As is now tradition, Lagerald Vick (15 points) opened the game by knocking down a 3-pointer. But the Jayhawks didn’t rely too heavily on their long range looks.

It wasn’t always pretty, and Tennessee’s interior defense at times made it downright difficult, but KU made sure to get the ball inside as often as it could. By the midway point of the first half, 14 of the Jayhawks’ 18 points had come in the paint. They shot 48 percent in the first half, scoring 22 points inside. By the end of the 45-minute NIT final that went to OT, KU out-scored the Volunteers 48-40 in the paint.

Turnovers plagued much of KU’s opening 20 minutes, though, making it difficult for for the No. 2 team in the country to create any separation, despite a dismal shooting start for the Vols, who missed their first eight 3-point attempts.

Kansas turned the ball over on nine of its first 28 possessions. The Jayhawks finished with nine giveaways in the first half and 16 on the night.

After halftime, KU shot 52% from the floor and turned the ball over seven times.

The Jayhawks finished 22-for-34 on free throws.

Defense: B

Tennessee only made 5 of its first 20 field goals as KU got off to a promising defensive start. Then the Vols settled in. They made 8 of 13 to close the first half, allowing them to enter halftime up 33-31.

KU wasn’t imposing defensively in the first half, but KU limited its top-5 foe to 39.4% shooting before intermission. Mitch Lightfoot provided the team’s only block and Quentin Grimes the only steal before the break.

Tennessee got even more comfortable in the opening minutes of the second half. The Vols had two dunks, two layups and a 3-pointer, allowing them to grow their lead to as many as nine points before the 14:00 mark.

The No. 5 Vols shot 7-for-27 on 3-pointers and 41.3 percent from the floor.

An undersized forward, Grant Williams gave Kansas problems with his 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Frontcourt: C+

Occasionally Udoka Azubuike (nine points, four turnovers, four rebounds, in 17 minutes) was too tall and powerful for the Volunteers to handle. At other junctures he didn’t look comfortable when Tennessee ran at him with double teams or fronted him in the post. The 7-footer picked up his second personal foul with more than 8 minutes left in the first half, so he only logged 8 first-half minutes, scoring 6 points along the way.

Azubuike got whistled for foul No. 3 in the opening minute of the second half, but Bill Self left Azubuike on the court. The big man then drew his fourth foul with more than 16 minutes left. He fouled out with 4:26 to go in regulation and the game tied at 61, while going after an offensive rebound.

Junior forward Dedric Lawson (24 points, team-best 13 rebounds and five assists) was at his best when asserting himself, scoring three layups in the first half, when he also dished three assists.

With Azubuike hampered by foul issues, Kansas needed Lawson to give the offense some sense of normalcy and confidence down the home stretch. After the junior center fouled out, Lawson’s drive and jump-hook in the paint gave KU a 65-64 lead with 2:50 left.

Lawson missed a difficult, contested 2-point jumper from the right corner at the end of regulation, but more than made up for it in the five-minute overtime period with a tip-in early and a transition jam late the extended KU’s margin to seven.

Backcourt: B+

Day by day, Devon Dotson’s beginning to realize how effective he can be in the open floor. The freshman point guard, within the first five minutes, had pushed to score a layup for himself in transition and get KU another fast-break bucket on a lob to Azubuike.

Dotson (17 points) came through in a big way in the opening minutes of the second half, too, nailing an open 3-pointer from the left corner and taking off after securing a defensive rebound to score another fast-break lay-in. The Jayhawks would have been in serious trouble without his contributions. Dotson scored 10 points in the second half.

A tough drive on a fast break in overtime from the freshman turned into a layup, foul and free throw for Dotson, and pushed KU’s lead to 74-69.

Grimes (five points, four rebounds) looked disappointed in his play a few times, with a 1-for-4 shooting night and an occasional defensive lapse, such as overpursuing on a denial, allowing Admiral Schofield (21 points) to easily cut backdoor for a layup.

Vick went through much of the night ineffective on offense, after his early 3-pointer. But he tied the game at 56 with 7:24 left after missing his previous three from deep. That ignited the senior guard from Memphis and he hit a go-ahead 3-pointer to give KU a 59-56 lead at the 6:47 mark. The lead grew to five when Vick drained another jumper, this one a 2-pointer, on the next trip down the floor.

In crunch time, Vick drove in from the top of the key for a go-ahead layup, 67-66. In overtime, he threw a lob to Lawson off a pick and roll for a five-point Kansas lead.

Bench: A-

Down their sixth man, Marcus Garrett, who was kept out of the lineup due to concussion-like symptoms, the Jayhawks didn’t have the support of their most reliable reserve.

In Garrett’s absence, Charlie Moore provided KU with some offensive punch in the first half, scoring seven points off the bench — putting in two high-degree-of-difficulty baskets off drives and hitting an open 3-pointer.

With KU in the midst of a brutal start to the second half, Moore (nine points, two assists) tracked down a long defensive rebound and alertly pitched the ball ahead to Dotson for a layup that cut UT’s lead to four with more than 12 minutes to go.

K.J. Lawson scored eight off the bench and pulled down six rebounds. His steal with 1:30 remaining set up a transition opportunity for KU, and Moore drew the fifth foul on Williams before making two free throws to tie the game at 69.

The other Lawson brother, K.J. also secured a key defensive board in the final minute. On the ensuing possession, he drove and missed, but secured a critical offensive rebound of his own miss.

His activity on the offensive glass extended a possession in overtime, as well, eventually allowing KU to score a second-chance basket when his brother, Dedric, tipped in another miss for a 71-69 KU lead.

Backup bigs Lightfoot and David McCormack went scoreless. Lightfoot grabbed three rebounds.

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Postgame Report Card: Kansas 77, Marquette 68

Kansas' Dedric Lawson (1) looks to pass away from Marquette's Matt Heldt (12) and Joey Hauser as teammate Marcus Garrett, right, watches during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in New York.

Kansas' Dedric Lawson (1) looks to pass away from Marquette's Matt Heldt (12) and Joey Hauser as teammate Marcus Garrett, right, watches during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in New York.

Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 77-68 win over Marquette Wednesday night at the NIT Season Tip-Off, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Offense: B-

KU trailed 47-38 at halftime and headed to the locker room on the heels of a choppy showing that featured five turnovers and only four assists for the No. 2 team in the country.

Although the Jayhawks shot 48% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, they played 14 of those without Udoka Azubuike, who picked up his second foul with more than 9 minutes left. Without their 7-footer available in the paint, the offense lacked rhythm and consistency. Lagerald Vick (16 points) came out confident and firing, still feeling it from 3-point range and connecting on each of his first three 3-pointers. Still, Marquette didn’t allow him to really take over.

Whatever Bill Self told his Jayhawks at the break, though, did the trick.

The Jayhawks opened the second half on an incredible 22-0 run, by playing aggressively and scoring 16 of those points in the paint.

KU shot 48.3 percent in the win, which set up a Friday matchup with No. 5 Tennessee.

Defense: B-

Entering the game, KU opponents had made 42.9% of their 3-pointers. The Jayhawks’ issues defending the arc continued in New York in the first half.

The man who scored the game’s first basket from downtown, Markus Howard (18 points) knocked in 3 of his first 4 from deep and the Golden Eagles made 5 of their first 8. By the midway point of the first half, Marquette led 23-22, with the help of 7-for-11 3-point shooting.

That margin would only grow from there, as Marquette drained 11 of 21 from beyond the arc in the first half, with Sam Hauser (20 points, 6-for-13 from 3) catching fire, shooting 5-for-8 from distance in 17 first-half minutes. Marquette did as it pleased in the first half, shooting 54.5% from the field.

Things began to flip in the second half, though, and KU’s defense finally began to bother Marquette. The Golden Eagles missed their first 10 field goals and turned the ball over five times before they scored their first points of the half at the 10:45 mark.

The defensive run allowed KU to build a 13-point lead before Marquette finally ended their slump on a Hauser 3-pointer.

The Jayhawks survived, holding Marquette to 41.7-percent shooting overall on a night the Golden Eagles went 14-for-31 (45.2 percent) from long range.

Frontcourt: C+

Lawson did well for himself by getting to the free throw line in the first half, but he missed his first 4 shots from the floor. He finally got one to drop on a drive late in the first half and knocked in a 3 from the top of the key just after Marquette took a 12-point lead. His 11 first-half points matched Vick for the team lead.

Azubuike looked massive compared to Marquette’s frontcourt. But that size advantage didn’t do him much good early. The junior big man only contributed 2 points and 1 rebound before intermission, and only played 6 minutes because he got whistled for 2 fouls.

With both Lawson and Azubuike on the floor to open the second half, though, KU began rounding into form. With the bigs leading the way, and often working in tandem offensively, the Jayhawks erased their 9-point halftime deficit with ease.

Lawson (26 points, 12 rebounds, three assists) led KU in scoring. Azubuike finished with six points and four rebounds in 15 minutes.

Backcourt: C

After, no doubt, hearing from Self and his staff this week about KU needing their guards to attack more, both members of the Jayhawks’ freshman backcourt had willed their way to the rim before the first media timeout.

Quentin Grimes (three points) drove baseline to draw contact and knock in two free throws — but that proved to be one of his few high points.

Soon after, Dotson showed off his balance by collecting a steal while avoiding tumbling in the open floor and keeping his dribble alive, powering his way to the basket for a lay-in. The freshman point guard then replicated the sequence, but looked way more smooth on his second attempt, swiping the ball again. Once again, the possession finished with Dotson seeking out and converting a layup.

As KU got off to a slowish offensive start, with more turnovers than assists, Dotson became the first guard to record an assist with more than 8 minutes left in the first half, on a dish for a David McCormack jam.

However, that assertiveness didn’t characterize most of the first half. Once again, Vick seemed to be KU’s only reliable source of offense on the perimeter, putting up 11 points before intermission on the power of 3-for-3 3-point shooting.

As much of an impact as Lawson and Azubuike had for KU, Dotson proved just as important through KU’s second-half recovery. The freshman guard set the tempo, played beyond his experience and produced 10 points and four assists in the win.

Bench: C+

KU didn’t play well in the first half when Marcus Garrett and Charlie Moore were on the floor. It was during those stretches that Marquette was able to build its lead to as many as 12 points.

When Azubuike got in foul trouble before the halftime break, Self again hesitated to use his backup bigs, Mitch Lightfoot and McCormack, as much as he did his reserve guards.

Garrett started the second half instead of Grimes and knocked in a 3-pointer off an Azubuike pass during KU’s wild run to open the second half. That stretch also included an old-fashioned 3-point play for Lightfoot, who finished through contact and knocked in a free throw.

KU’s bench, led by Garrett’s 11points and three rebounds, outscored Marquette’s 16-10.


Postgame Report Card: Kansas 89, Louisiana 76

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) comes away with a steal during the first half, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) comes away with a steal during the first half, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 89-76 win over Louisiana Friday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: B

You figured the Jayhawks were going to have a good night offensively when Dedric Lawson missed a shot, landed on his backside, caught the offensive rebound while still seated on the left side of the paint and just shot it from there for his first official points in Allen Fieldhouse (remember, he went scoreless in the home opener versus Vermont earlier this week.)

But KU missed a lot of quality looks inside, several of them layups, against UL. And basically no one except Lagerald Vick — new career-high 33 points and 7-for-12 3-point shooting — could get a shot from outside to drop.

Take away Vick’s latest downtown display and the rest of the Jayhawks combined to go 1-for-10, with that 1 coming from Quentin Grimes.

In the half court, the offense looked clunky at times, and KU finished with 16 turnovers.

KU did most of its damage inside, with 44 points in the paint, but made just 8 of 22 from 3-point range.

Defense: B-

Bill Self called timeout less than seven minutes into this one, when UL junior big Justin Miller (22 points) knocked down a 3-pointer to give him 10 quick points and the Ragin’ Cajuns a 15-all tie with the Jayhawks.

KU’s defensive issues were just getting started at that point, though. The Cajuns would lead by as many as 12 in the first half, as the Jayhawks struggled to defend the 3-point arc early. At other stages before halftime, their transition defense and lack of half-court help got them in trouble.

Those very same issues popped up in the second half, too, allowing Louisiana to stick around much of the night.

UL shot 42.9 percent from the floor and went 12-for-36 on 3-pointers.

The Ragin’ Cajuns were runnin’ too, putting up 23 fastbreak points.

Frontcourt: B

In the opening half, KU didn’t get much of a look at either of its most prominent bigs. Both Udoka Azubuike and Lawson picked up two fouls quickly. Azubuike only played 5 minutes in the first, while Lawson stayed on the floor slightly longer, with 9 minutes logged before the break.

In their absence, though, KU was able to at least remain competitive on the glass, as freshman David McCormack snagged 6 rebounds and KU out-rebounded the visitors 23-18 in the first 20 minutes on 5-for-8 shooting (4-for-7 3-pointers).

With Lawson and Azubuike back in the mix in the second half, the Jayhawks eventually looked more like a top-five-ranked team. Lawson provided 19 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.

Able to dominate in the paint once KU got him involved in the second half, Azubuike finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds, as well as 4 blocks.

Backcourt: C

Apparently The Lagerald Vick Show was not a one-night-only affair this week. Vick didn’t hit every single 3-pointer he hoisted this time, but he still was the only consistent source of offense for Kansas in the first half, when he put up 18 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

Vick led KU in scoring once again, this time finishing with 33 points to go with his 9 rebounds.

Neither of KU’s starting freshmen guards ever got going offensively. Devon Dotson (4 points) went 2-for-6 and Quentin Grimes (6 points) shot 2-for-7.

Bench: C+

Sophomore guard Marcus Garrett brought his typically steady floor game to the fieldhouse. Garrett’s awareness, defense and passing (5 assists) more than made up for his lack of scoring (6 points on 1-for-3 shooting).

McCormack provided some crucial first-half minutes, too, with Azubuike and Lawson sitting due to foul trouble. The freshman big man played with energy, getting after the offensive glass (4 offensive rebounds) in 10 minutes.

Charlie Moore struggled with his shot, finishing 0-for-5.


Postgame Report Card: Kansas 84, Vermont 68

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) puts up a three over Vermont guard Ernie Duncan (20) during the first half, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) puts up a three over Vermont guard Ernie Duncan (20) during the first half, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 84-68 win over Vermont Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: B-

For most of the Jayhawks’ home opener, only two players found ways to assert themselves on offense. And, really, it was more The Lagerald Vick Show, with Udoka Azubuike co-starring than a case of equal billing.

Vick, a 6-foot-5 senior guard, was the only offense the Jayhawks had for much of the opening minutes, with 13 of KU’s first 20 points — and the No. 2 team in the country trailing, 26-20.

He went on to nail all eight of his attempts from behind the arc and lead Kansas with a career-best 32 points. You could tell he was cooking early, when he buried his fourth with a little one-on-one crossover and pull-up on the left wing after a half-court set produced nothing better.

The only other approach working for KU (to varying degrees of success) was force-feeding Azubuike inside, usually with entry passes over the top, and letting the 7-footer power through defenders for dunks, layups and shots near the rim. The massive junior hit 10 of 17 from the floor for 23 points and brought in 11 rebounds

Two first-half fouls meant Dedric Lawson only played seven minutes before the break and his slow start and off night — 0 points, seven rebounds — served as a reminder of how vital the junior forward will be for KU’s offense.

With little offensive support for Vick and Azubuike, KU couldn’t put away Vermont (1-1) until the final minutes.

Defense: B-

In the opening minutes, KU ran into trouble contesting Ernie Duncan and Stef Smith (both 2-for-2) from beyond the arc, leading to a 14-8 deficit before the first media timeout.

Vermont improved its lead to 23-17 near the midway mark of the first half on Smith’s third 3-pointer and led by as many as eight.

Azubuike, with regularity in the first half, struggled to recover when involved in ball screens, leading to quality looks both inside and out for the Catamounts.

KU eventually adjusted and/or settled in enough to keep Vermont from giving the Jayhawks a real scare, though. The Catamounts shot 41 percent form the floor and didn’t knock in enough 3-pointers (9 of 26) to set up a potential upset.

Frontcourt: C

Outside of Azubuike’s double-double and some rebounds from Dedric Lawson, the bigs weren’t effective and in some cases, were just not playable, given Vermont’s reliance on a smaller lineup.

Backcourt: B-

Freshman Quentin Grimes, with a steady floor game and 10 assists to go with his 10 points, gave Vick a little help. But Devon Dotson (seven points, six rebounds) wasn’t quite as effective.

Bench: C

Sophomore guards Charlie Moore (seven points, two assists in 21 minutes) and Marcus Garrett (four points, five rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes) were the only substitutes Bill Self trusted on this night.

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