For the first time in ages, Kansas and Kansas State played an old-school style shootout at Allen Fieldhouse. The ending was controversial, but the result was the same as all of the slugfests we’ve seen in this building between these two teams. Kansas beat Kansas State, just barely – 90-88, to win its 13th straight game.
The last play of the game is what all of the ESPN talking heads are discussing on this Tuesday night. With the score tied at 88 and 5.6 seconds left on the clock, KU inbounded the ball, looking for a game-winning shot. K-State smothered Frank Mason, allowing Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk to slip free and receive the outlet pass. He picked up his dribble at halfcourt, took three steps, and laid up a shot as time expired. It went in. 90-88, final score.
Here’s the shot. You be the judge:
Another look at Svi’s buzzer-beater for the win #kubball
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) January 4, 2017
Yeah, man, that’s a travel. But here’s the thing: the officials were atrocious both ways all night. Josh Jackson was called for a brutal technical foul for shouting “that’s a foul” at an official. Mitch Lightfoot barreled over a Kansas State player in the first half and wasn’t called, but Landen Lucas’ ankle was whistled in a key spot late in the game. Overall, 37 fouls were called on Tuesday night, with the 19-18 majority going against the Jayhawks. Kansas State shot three more free throws than Kansas (23-20).
But you won’t hear a single word about that.
Another thing K-State fans won’t remember: the Wildcats had the ball with 22 seconds left in a tie game. Dean Wade got a wide-open look on a three-pointer with 11 seconds left. He missed. The Wildcats had a great chance to grab the offensive rebound, but they fumbled it out of bounds. Two golden opportunities to snag the team’s first win at Allen Fieldhouse since 2006, and neither materialized. The Wildcats got hosed on the travel call, but by failing to convert on their own chances, they took fate out of their own hands.
Remember when Juwan Staten of West Virginia took three (maybe four) steps at the end of that Kansas/West Virginia game in 2015? It didn’t get called, either. Officials, regardless of all of the whistles they may call during the first 39:45 of a game, are very rarely going to call anything inside the last 15 seconds of a tie contest. They typically leave it up to the players to make a play. In this case, that benefitted Kansas.
As for the game, the Wildcats came out hot, scoring 18 points before the first TV timeout. They led 21-13 before Kansas took control for the rest of the half. A three-point barrage helped, but it was Jackson’s dominating performance that surged KU into the lead. He scored 16 of his career-high 22 points before halftime to lead the way for the Jayhawks, and after Devonte’ Graham’s circus-style three-pointer beat the first half buzzer, KU took a 52-42 lead into the locker room.
The second half was full of blown opportunities for both teams. The Jayhawks had chance after chance to put the Wildcats away, while K-State never once got the lead back. With 13 minutes left, K-State cut the deficit to two points at 64-62, but KU stretched its lead back out to eight within another minute.
Kansas State finally got the contest tied with 1:48 left on a Barry Brown layup, and a back-and-forth, offensive battle began. Landen Lucas, who had his finest game as a Jayhawk, made a basket to give KU an 86-84 lead, and K-State’s Kamau Stokes sank two free throws to tie things right back up. Lucas answered by making two free throws of his own to give KU an 88-86 lead with 1:02 left, but Wesley Iwundu’s layup pulled things even again 20 seconds later.
The Jayhawks squandered the chance to re-take the lead on their next possession, and K-State called timeout on what would be their final scoring chance of the night. It was then when Wade, who led the Wildcats with 20 points, missed his three, and Kansas was given the ball under its own basket. After a timeout, Mykhailiuk made his game-winner as time expired.
Lucas set a career-high with 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting. He also had 12 rebounds, marking the third straight game he’s led KU in boards since Udoka Azubuike suffered a season-ending injury. KU’s frountcourt depth is thin and makes foul trouble inevitable, but the Jayhawks are completely lost defensively without Lucas.
Speaking of defense, this is Bill Self’s worst defensive team since arriving in Lawrence. After giving up 80 points in Friday’s Big 12 opener against TCU, the Jayhawks allowed 88 on Tuesday night, which is the second-highest total ever scored by Kansas State in Allen Fieldhouse. It’s also just the second time that the Jayhawks have allowed 80+ points in consecutive, non-overtime games since January 2003, which was back in the Roy Williams era.
All five starters on both teams scored in double figures. KU’s saving grace was (and will continue to be) the fact that its offense is so good, it will be able to outscore just about anybody on any given night.
Also, the defense will improve. The pieces are there; this team is too athletic and versatile to give up points like this forever. But until it does, Jayhawk fans better get used to winning games like this: wild, crazy-entertaining shootouts.
- Josh Jackson: 22 points (9/15 FG), nine rebounds, and six assists. He was on triple-double watch before his technical vaulted him into foul trouble. Bill Self essentially called the T a bunch of hot garbage in his postgame presser, he also said that Jackson now has a reputation for doing this, which can only be solved by maturation and realization that he can’t keep doing this.
- Frank Mason: 15 points (5/12 FG – 1/7 on twos, 4/5 on threes), four assists, and five turnovers in 39 minutes. Mason wasn’t a standout for just the second time all year, but he sucked the K-State defense way out on the perimeter late in the game, which allowed Lucas to score pivotal points in the waining moments.
- Devonte’ Graham: 13 points (4/9 FG), six assists, 37 minutes: He finally got his three-point shot back, and he was about the only one who stayed out of foul trouble by playing decent defense.
- Landen Lucas: 18 points (8/10 FG) and 12 rebounds in 28 minutes. Self called him KU’s most consistent player after the game. He’s not wrong.
- Svi Mykhailiuk: 11 points (3/7 FG) in 22 minutes. He hit the game-winner. Stud.
- Lagerald Vick: three points in 24 minutes. For the most part, he was a non-factor who couldn’t get on the floor late because of sloppy defense.
- Carlton Bragg: seven points and three rebounds in 15 minutes. Like Vick, his questionable defense was the reason he didn’t play much in the clutch moments.
- Mitch Lightfoot played three minutes and scored one point in the first half.
- Kansas: 53% from the floor, 50% on threes, and 65% at the line.
- K-State: 51%, 33%, and 83%.
- Both teams had 33 rebounds. The game was very even; it was a coin-flip that barely went KU’s way.
- At 13-1 overall and 2-0 in the league, Kansas is already alone at the top in the Big 12. West Virginia lost to Texas Tech tonight, which could be crucial come season’s end in the standings.
- Up next for the Jayhawks: Saturday night at home against Texas Tech.