LAWRENCE, Kan. — Dedric Lawson had 25 points and 10 rebounds, Devon Dotson added 20 points and No. 11 Kansas took out the frustration of a lousy week on No. 16 Texas Tech with a 79-63 victory Saturday.
Lagerald Vick added 13 points and Ochai Agbaji had 10 for the Jayhawks (17-5, 6-3 Big 12), who came into the showdown of Big 12 title contenders having lost two straight and three of four.
Suddenly and unexpectedly, they looked every bit the program that has won 14 straight crowns.
The Jayhawks roared to a 20-point halftime lead against Texas Tech (17-5, 5-4), the league’s dominant defensive team, then weathered a shaky start to the second half before pulling away again.
It left a stark change in mood in Lawrence from 24 hours earlier, when Kansas learned sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa would be ineligible this season and next after his guardian received improper benefits, and that starting guard Marcus Garrett had sprained his ankle in practice.
Throw in the earlier loss of center Udoka Azubuike to a season-ending wrist injury, and coach Bill Self was left to completely revamp not only his starting lineup but his approach.
What he devised worked at both ends of the floor against Texas Tech.
Davide Moretti led the Red Raiders with 14 points, but nobody really got on track. Leading scorer Jarrett Culver was held to 10 points on 5-for-17 shooting, the Red Raiders were 6 of 28 from beyond the arc and they continually gave up easy opportunities on the fast break.
Lawson got the Jayhawks off to a hot start, draining an early 3-pointer on his way to 16 points and seven boards by the break. Vick also got into the act, knocking down a trio of first-half 3s and at one point gesturing to the Texas Tech bench to bring it on.
The Red Raiders never really did.
Only three times in the first half did Texas Tech score on consecutive trips down the floor, and a team that relies on defense to dictate tempo could not contain the Jayhawks at the other end.
By the time Lawson buried two more 3s, the Jayhawks had a 46-26 lead headed into halftime.
To put its offensive efficiency into perspective, Texas Tech had been holding opponents to an average of 56.8 points. Four times the Red Raiders have allowed 46 points or fewer.
Texas Tech began to pound the paint with Norense Odiase in the second half, but misfires from the foul line prevented the Red Raiders from trimming their deficit. And when they managed to get within 15 points, the Jayhawks would answer with a driving layup or crucial putback.
Or they’d make a key defensive stop a la their opponents.
The lead swelled to 25 down the stretch, and Self was able to empty his bench with a couple of minutes remaining against a team that topped Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse last season.
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Kansas announced 30 minutes before tipoff that the sophomore guard would not play. Garrett has become the Jayhawks’ defensive stopper along with averaging 7.2 points and 3.6 assists.
Before the game, Kansas athletic director Jeff Long said the school will appeal the NCAA’s punishment of Sousa. The sophomore forward was declared ineligible Friday after his guardian, Fenny Falmagne, allegedly received a $2,500 payment from a booster or agent. Long argued that De Sousa was unaware of any illicit payments and did not benefit from them. “If the NCAA is trying to send a message or make a statement through unwarranted punishment,” he said, “they are doing it through the wrong avenue and with the wrong man.”
Texas Tech returns home to face West Virginia on Monday night.
Kansas heads to Kansas State for the Sunflower Showdown on Tuesday night.