Kansas State stayed in control of Big 12 on Tuesday night as the Wildcats knocked off in-state rival No. 13 Kansas with a 74-67 home win.
The first win for Kansas State over the Jayhawks since 2015, the victory means that the Wildcats stay on top of a crowded conference race that also includes Baylor at the top with only two losses. A defeat for Kansas drops them to 6-4 in league play as the road struggles continue for the Jayhawks.
Using stifling defense to force 23 Kansas turnovers, the Wildcats did a great job of taking the Jayhawks’ best effort and still earning a convincing win. Overcoming a deficit once Kansas switched things up on defense and went zone, Kansas State’s offense figured things out behind a balanced effort. Barry Brown Jr. (18 points), Xavier Sneed (14 points) and Dean Wade (12 points) all had solid games for the Wildcats while Cartier Diarra made some big plays down the stretch — including a key steal and windmill dunk with under a minute left that served as an exclamation point.
Kansas couldn’t get consistent offensive production from much of anyone on Tuesday as All-American candidate Dedric Lawson was limited to 18 points and nine rebounds on 6-for-15 shooting. Without Lawson getting going, the rest of the Kansas offense struggled against such a strong Kansas State defense. The turnovers were killer, but Devon Dotson was only 5-for-12 from the floor (13 points, five assists) while Quentin Grimes and Lagerald Vick were mostly non-factors. This is yet another concerning road effort from Kansas in a league where they absolutely must win away from the Phog to maintain the conference title streak.
Kansas State is still atop the Big 12 standings after Tuesday, but they have an interesting road over these next several weeks. The Wildcats begin the journey with a road win against co-Big 12 leader Baylor this weekend — the first of two those teams still have to play. Of course, there’s also a return trip to Kansas, and three of the next four games for the Wildcats come on the road — with the home game coming against a hot team in Iowa State.
While’s it’s impossible to predict the winner of a wide-open conference with eight or so games left to play, it certainly doesn’t look like Kansas is any sort of favorite with the way they’re playing on the road. The Jayhawks look great when they can play at home like they did during Saturday’s blowout win over Texas Tech. But things are quite different once they head on the road and a young team has to get crucial buckets outside of Lawson.