Texas Tech walked into “a hornets’ nest” on Saturday at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, as Red Raider head coach Chris Beard described it.
With their backs against the wall, Kansas overcame adversity to defeat No. 16-ranked Texas Tech 79-63, snapping a two-game losing streak.
“We needed it,” KU coach Bill Self said after the game. “We can say what we want to, but we’ve had a rough couple of weeks.”
Beard acknowledged that coming on the road after everything this Jayhawk team has experience would be no easy task.
“You’d have to be an idiot to not know what we’re walking into,” Beard said. “…Their backs were against the wall, and for whatever reason we just didn’t hear that message.”
The NCAA released a statement on Friday saying that sophomore Silvio De Sousa would remain ineligible for this season, and the 2019-2020, because his guardian – Fenny Falmagne – accepted $2,500 “from a university booster and agent and agreed to receive additional funds from the same person.” KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said in an impromptu press conference the university will appeal the ruling.
“I have been involved in college athletics for many years and at many institutions,” Long said. “I’ve always respected the NCAA and trusted the process, but I must tell you, my faith has been shaken.”
“I don’t have a crystal ball…” Self said in regards to the ruling. “You know what I’m hoping for? I’m hoping for fairness, and whatever that translates to I hope that’s the outcome.”
News only got worse for Kansas as Marcus Garrett suffered a high ankle sprain during practice Friday, forcing him to miss today’s game.
Freshman guard Ochai Agbaji, making his second straight start, said this game was for those two players.
“Attitude wise, everybody was good,” Agbaji said. “Everybody picked up Silvio, everybody picked up Marcus. We came together. We played for them today.”
Agbaji said this game meant everything to this team and they wanted this game, badly. “I think everybody needed it, as a fan base too,” he said. “It was just good to come in here and get this win.”
Kansas rode a strong first half to create separation, and they never looked back. The team was up 46-26 at intermission, shooting 55 percent from the floor, including 60 percent from beyond the arc. The Jayhawks’ 46 first-half points were their most in a half in conference play this season.
Lagerald Vick led the charge for the Jayhawks with 11 points in the half, including 3-of-3 from behind the arc.
Lagerald Vick is HYPED UP for Kansas. pic.twitter.com/2SpjUexNjM
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) February 2, 2019
“That’s the best half of basketball we’ve played in a long time, maybe all year,” Self said.
The team finished with a season-high 13 made 3-pointers.
Dedric Lawson recorded his 15th double-double of the season, finishing with 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting and 10 rebounds. He went perfect from three-point range, hitting all three of his shots. Agbaji finished with his first double-double of his career, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Two Jayhawks could have caught this lob.
One player was MORE THAN ENOUGH. pic.twitter.com/FkYGRyQqQe
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) February 2, 2019
KU received a boost from freshman guard Devon Dotson, who scored a career-high 20 points, dropped four assists and snagged three steals. “I think that was his best game offensively. I thought he was great,” Self said about his freshman point guard.
The Jayhawk defense showed up in a huge way on Saturday. The team held Texas Tech to 34.4 percent shooting, 21.4 percent from 3-point range. Kansas also held Texas Tech’s go-to scorer – Jarrett Culver – to 10 points on 5-of-17 shooting.
Dotson said the defense was the key to maintaining the lead the whole game.
“It was just taking every possession seriously and really locking in,” Dotson said. “When we’re turned up like that on the defensive end, I think we’re really tough to beat. We had our offense rolling tonight.”
Kansas will travel to Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan to face Kansas State Tuesday. The Wildcats are coming off a 75-57 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Jayhawks are 26-4 in Bramlage, but are 1-5 in true road games this season.
Sunflower Dominance 🌻🏀🌻:
The Jayhawks have now won 7-straight in the series, 56 of the last 61 overall, 26-4 in Bramlage Coliseum (87%) and are 48-5 (91%) vs. the ‘Cats since the inception of the Big 12. #kubball
— Brian Hanni (@BHanni) January 30, 2018
“We got to lock in on the road,” Dotson said. “We’ve been kind of struggling there, but we got to find a way to really focus and get the win.”
Texas Tech came into this game third in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. However, Self understands that the Wildcats will provide a stiffer challenge playing in front of their home court.
“Texas Tech has a good defense… But K-State is a different animal defensively when they are turned up and ready to go,” Self said. “They held this team (Texas Tech) to 45 points in Manhattan, so we are going to have to go play with the same type of effort and intensity and really have a tight group ready to go fight because this is when it should start getting and little bit fun.”