Kansas defeats Villanova, 74-71

  • 11 a.m., Dec. 15, 2018
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Lagerald Vick bounces back to help No. 1 KU take down No. 17 Villanova

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) shushes a Villanova player after hitting a three during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) shushes a Villanova player after hitting a three during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas senior Lagerald Vick sure found a memorable way to put a bad week behind him.

After coming off of the bench and struggling offensively during recent KU victories over Wofford and New Mexico State, Vick was back in the starting lineup and back on the red-hot railway during the top-ranked Jayhawks’ 74-71 win over No. 17 Villanova on Saturday morning at Allen Fieldhouse.

Saturday’s effort was not quite like those 30-point explosions from earlier this season in that Vick spread out the 29 points and seven rebounds on 9-of-15 shooting over 39 minutes in this one instead of waiting until the end.

But given the degree of difficulty of so many of his shots and the pedigree of Saturday’s opponent, going off for 29 in a game where No. 1 Kansas (9-0) needed every one of them might have had some thinking Saturday’s showing was Vick’s most impressive of the season.

“We’ve had great Lagerald and we’ve had, obviously, not-so-great Lagerald,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the victory. “But if you look at it, who, over a nine-game period, has had six games like he’s had in America? He was great. And he made hard shots. And it wasn’t because of good offense, it was because he just went and made plays.”

That’s the way Villanova senior Phil Booth saw it, too.

After guarding Vick plenty during the Wildcats’ Final Four victory last March in San Antonio, Booth said Vick looked like “a completely different player,” on Saturday.

“He’s a lot more aggressive this year,” Booth began. “I mean, last year, they had such a well-rounded team with well-rounded scorers, he probably didn’t need to be as aggressive. I mean, they were a Final Four team and I know he wasn’t averaging 29. He’s worked a lot on his game, as you can see. He does more than shoot jumpers. He pulls up, gets to the rim, he’s very athletic and he does a lot of things offensively.”

Vick, who has used the same refrain after all of his monster games this season, — “Just trying to be aggressive.” — said Booth’s assessment of his game was accurate and added that he feels as much like a different player as he looks.

“Yeah, definitely,” Vick said after Saturday’s win. “I’m just really being aggressive, believing in myself and knowing my coaches and teammates are on my side.”

It was hard for them not to be on Saturday. Teaming with junior Dedric Lawson, who recorded his sixth double-double of the season — 28 points and 12 rebounds — Vick delivered all of the things experienced, big time players are supposed to provide in games of this magnitude.

He was tough on the glass to the tune of seven rebounds, hit 80 percent from the free-throw line and played essentially the entire game while knocking in three 3-pointers.

One came in transition, off of a perfect pass from Devon Dotson (11 points in 26 minutes), and the other two were the result of Vick taking matters into his own hands and refusing to let Villanova (8-4) extend its winning streak over Kansas to four games.

While those long-range bombs ignited the crowd and helped Kansas keep some semblance of control in a game that went back and forth more than a dozen times until the game’s final three minutes, it was a 2-pointer that put Kansas ahead 59-56 with 4:24 to play that was Vick’s favorite.

“Baseline in front of our bench. Off balance. Didn’t think I was going to make it,” Vick recalled. “Splash. And I fell trying to get back up.”

The Memphis native was not the only one who remembered the shot.

Lawson, who did most of his damage in the paint, said he knew Vick’s baseline jumper was good when it left his hand. And he could sense that the Villanova players did, as well.

“Man, he’s been making them all year,” said Lawson before noting that he saw Booth mouth the word, “Damn,” after one Vick make. “I had a feeling that step-back in the corner was gonna go, just because that’s what we expect out of him now, to make tough shots to get out of tough situations. Lagerald, he has been phenomenal all year, and I hope it continues.”

As big as it gets for a nonconference game in December, Saturday’s game came with all kinds of hype and anticipation.

But a smiling Self said after the victory that even though Saturday’s 3-point squeaker ended a three-game Kansas losing streak against Villanova and pulled the teams even in the all-time series at four wins apiece, it did not do anything to change the head-to-head record that really matters.

“We’re 1-2 against Villanova,” Self said. “Because we beat them in the Sweet 16 (in 2008), they beat us in the Elite Eight (2016), they beat us in the Final Four (2018). That makes us 1-2. The game today was nice. The game in Atlantis (in 2013) that they won was nice (for them). But it wasn’t a real game, like those others are real games.”

Self said the only place revenge for that Final Four loss mattered was in the stands, where the fans showed up full-throttle to help make sure the Jayhawks came out on top in this one.

Even Vick admitted that, while the players do think about those things from time to time, revenge played only a tiny role in Saturday’s victory, with scouting report, attention to detail, competitiveness and wanting to win for each other carrying the day.

“To think that this was a revenge game, that would be like us beating Georgia Tech (during the 2004-05 season) after they beat us in the (2004) Elite Eight,” Self said. “It’s not a revenge game. To our fans and players, of course. But to a coaching staff, nah. This was just a good game that allows you to have a quality win for seeding and you can play through the experiences that make your team better. But we’re both going to play in bigger games than this.”


Dane Pratt 3 years, 11 months ago

Nice game by LV but the 3 he took with about 1:10 was a head scratcher. Expect a better game presence and from a senior no less.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 11 months ago

Great offense by LV, no matter what. But he's also responsible for Nova's second chances - no box out at all. He can definitely improve on his D. He allowed Booth to move up & under - needs to stay between his man and the basket, it's the very basic.

Kit Duncan 3 years, 11 months ago

His inbounds pass across court and out-of-bounds was the real head scratcher! There wasn’t a player for “either” team that could have caught it. Glad he made up for it with his aggressive rebound under the basket on a Villanova miss!

Dane Pratt 3 years, 11 months ago

And he had a timeout to burn, which as it turned out they needed later.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 11 months ago

I really like this aggressive Vick transition. That's how every one else in the team should be. Look at how confidence play role here. As Lawson puts it, let's hope LV continues to be our offense weapon.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 11 months ago

Random Thoughts:

1] Jay Bilas loves Allen Field House and the Allen crowd. I don't know about the rest of you guys and gals out there but, at least on my television, that was the loudest KU crowd I've heard in a long time!!

2] It would be nice if someone besides Vick, Lawson and Dotson could actually score a basket or sink a free throw.

3] The reffing went from touch foul to no blood no foul to back to touch again. I thought Jay and Bill were both going to blow a gasket.

4] Quentin is quickly playing himself into a 3&done.

5] Gosh, seeing the morning sun shining through the windows onto the crowd really brought back some amazing memories of my 5 years at many basketball arenas still get sun light??!!!

6] Finally, the last game on friggin ESPN + Tuesday......I hope.

7] How many boneheaded fouls and outrageous turn overs can a team commit and still stay undefeated????????

Dane Pratt 3 years, 11 months ago

"The best venue in college basketball" according to Jay Bilas.

Titus Canby 3 years, 11 months ago

Tony, I love your comment about the windows in the Field House. What an awesome building. I spent so much time there during my 4 1/2 years, even outside of games. Anyone remember when we could go there at night and run, play pick-up games, and we even had a weight room on the 2nd (or was it 3rd?) floor? And how about going there to pull cards for classes?

Pius Waldman 3 years, 11 months ago

Just a thought about Vick and his success. We all appreciate the games he was unbelievable. I just wonder about the 2 games he disappeared. Could it have been Coach pointing out and restricting his game time. Was he the only starter that didn't do well in practice or was he pointed out due to past problems?

Pius Waldman 3 years, 11 months ago

(Finally, the last game on friggin ESPN + Tuesday......I hope.) Well 2 more and here may be the reason. KU has an agreement that the local organization that shows the exhibitions games also has an agreement to show 4 regular games. Before ESPN+ they were blacked out in the Kansas and Kansas City area. Now everybody can view the games. I enjoy ESPN+ as they show many games and different sports.

Buck Bukaty 3 years, 11 months ago

Credit where credit is due....Thank you to the local channel, 38 The Spot; via rabbit ears or your local cable channel. Unfortunately for you out-of-towners, I don't believe they broadcast their signal over their Internet website.

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