INDIANAPOLIS – Kansas men’s basketball newcomers Dedric Lawson, Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson impressed in their debuts in the crimson and blue, propelling the Jayhawks past Michigan State in a 92-87 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Grimes, a freshman guard from The Woodlands, Texas, backed up his 2018 Gatorade Texas High School Player of the Year honor with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, leading the Jayhawks in scoring. Lawson, a redshirt junior transfer from Memphis, put up a double-double in his KU debut with 20 points and 14 rebounds while leading the team in assists with six in 38 minutes.
The Jayhawks came out slow in the second-half until the freshman duo of Grimes and Dotson combined for five threes in the first ten minutes. Dotson ended the game with 16 points and three assists, shooting 6-of-11.
KU’s 14-point halftime was cut down in the second as the Jayhawks only had a three point lead with 34 seconds left in the game. Grimes and Dotson each made one of two free throws to make it a two-possession game with under 20 seconds left to bolster the Jayhawks to a win.
The veteran play of junior big man Udoka Azubuike powered the Jayhawks down low in the paint, scoring 17 points, while leading the Jayhawks on defense with four blocks.
KU ended the game with 21 assists on its 31 made field goals. The Jayhawks shot 20-of-33 from the free throw line, with Lawson shooting an efficient 10-for-12.
The win marks the first for the Jayhawks against the Spartans in the Champions Classic, dating back to the event’s inception in 2011, and also marks the third-straight victory for KU, beating Kentucky 65-61 in 2017 and Duke 77-75 in 2016.
HEAD COACH BILL SELF
On his overall thoughts about tonight’s game:
“I thought we did a lot of good things. If you take away transition defense, I think we did a lot of good things. I thought our freshmen stepped up and played extremely well. David (McCormack), off the bench, in the first half, was terrific. Quentin (Grimes) and Devon (Dotson) were both really good. Obviously, we’ve got to learn how to close a game, but I thought we had some really good performances out there.”
On if he knew Grimes and Dotson would be such “gamers”:
“I was hopeful. But you don’t know until you actually see it. Now we know what they can actually do. You shouldn’t have to play well just because you made shots, and they both made shots. There’s a lot of things, especially Devon, can do, in transition. How many times did we have numbers and it led to transition points for them (Michigan State)? A lot of it was overtrying too. But, yeah, they were both ‘gamers’ tonight. Q (Quentin Grimes) was fabulous.”
Kansas redshirt junior forward Dedric Lawson
On how Coach Self evaluated the team’s defensive effort:
“The first half he said we played well, I don’t know how many points we gave up. We gave up 51 in the second half, so he was pretty intense about that. He said we can’t give up 87 in a game. There’s probably going to be some emphasis on defense at practice, just staying focused and guarding those shooters.”
Kansas freshman guard Quentin Grimes
On relationship with fellow freshman Devon Dotson:
“He’s my roommate so we were kind of joking around last night. We just said how we can’t really wait to get out and play in front of everybody. I think we were both nervous, really. Once Coach (Self) went over the game plan, we kind of settled down a little bit.”
Kansas will host Vermont in a campus round game of the NIT on Monday, Nov. 12, at 8 p.m. on ESPN2 and on the Jayhawk Radio Network. The Jayhawks are 1-0 all-time against the Catamounts dating back to 2005.