BROOKLYN — And with that, the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks stake their claim to the right to be ranked atop the polls come Monday morning.
Dedric Lawson finished with 24 points, 13 boards and five assists while Devon Dotson and LeGerald Vick chipped in with 17 and 15 points, respectively, as Kansas fought back from a nine-point second half deficit to knock off No. 5 Tennessee in the finals of the Preseason NIT in the Barclays Center on Friday night, XX-XX, in overtime.
With Marcus Garrett out on Friday and Udoka Azubuike limited to just 17 minutes due to foul trouble, the Jayhawks needed their bench to step up, and they did just that. K.J. Lawson, who entered Friday night having played 17 minutes all season and just seven minutes in the last three games, played 19 minutes, including the a long strength at the end of regulation and in overtime after Azubuike fouled out, and his presence was felt. He finished with eight points, six boards and a pair of steals, but his contributions went beyond the box score. It was the hustle plays, the defensive presence and a couple of loose balls that he kept alive that made a difference.
Tennessee got 18 points, eight boards and six assists from their all-american, Grant Williams, but he fouled out with 1:24 left in regulation and the Vols did not have an answer on the offensive end of the floor. Admiral Schofield finished with 21 points and six boards after missing much of the first half with foul trouble, but his efforts were not enough.
The Jayhawks will head into the new week with a 5-0 record after beating the Vols and Marquette in the NIT. With a win over No. 11 Michigan State on their résumé, they will likely share votes with No. 3 Gonzaga for the No. 1 spot in the AP and Coaches Polls.