LAWRENCE, Kan. — Dedric Lawson scored 25 points, Ochai Agbaji hit five 3s and had 23 points, and No. 13 Kansas shrugged off a slow start to beat Oklahoma State 84-72 on Saturday.
Devon Dotson added 18 points while Mitch Lightfoot provided a big lift off the bench for the Jayhawks (18-6, 7-4 Big 12), who were playing their first game without starting guard Lagerald Vick. He left the team earlier in the week to deal with personal issues.
Vick’s departure came at a tough time for the Jayhawks, who lost earlier in the week to rival Kansas State to leave them two games back in the race for a 15th consecutive conference title.
Oklahoma State (9-14, 2-8) played Kansas to a draw in the first half before Lawson, Agbaji and the rest of the Jayhawks caught fire. The Cowboys’ own depth issues surfaced when Cameron McGriff got into foul trouble, allowing the Jayhawks to slowly draw away late.
McGriff finished with 22 points before fouling out. Lindy Waters added 13 for Oklahoma State.
Even before Vick left, the Jayhawks were playing without three guys they thought would be big parts of the program. Silvio De Sousa is ineligible, big man Udoka Azubuike is out after season-ending wrist surgery and defensive stopper Marcus Garrett is recovering from an ankle sprain.
The result was a discombobulated first 20 minutes Saturday.
Freshman forward David McCormack got his first career start but still seemed lost on the floor, struggling to adapt to high-level college basketball. Fellow freshman starter Quentin Grimes was shut out in the first half, and nobody on coach Bill Self’s crippled bench provided much energy.
Oklahoma State took advantage with a late run to make it 36-all at the break.
It was Lightfoot who finally energized the Jayhawks coming out of the locker room. The backup forward played above the rim at both ends of the floor, had a couple of crucial rebounds and even stuffed a putback dunk, earning a standing ovation from a home crowd on edge.
Waters and McGriff answered for the Cowboys, who were trying to become the first team since 2001 to win back-to-back games in Allen Fieldhouse — they actually swept Kansas last season.
They couldn’t stop a 12-0 charge that finally gave the Jayhawks control, though.
Agbaji began it with a 3-pointer, Grimes added back-to-back 3s and Agbagi drained his fifth 3 to make it 65-51 and force Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton into burning a timeout.
The Jayhawks’ lead eventually reached 19 points as they cruised to the finish.
Oklahoma State entered the game leading the Big 12 in 3-point percentage and number made, and the Cowboys needed to shoot well from the perimeter to hang with Kansas. They were 4 of 7 from the arc in the first half but 5 of 13 in the second, when the Jayhawks pulled away.
Kansas can’t get Garrett back from his sprained ankle soon enough. Its game against Oklahoma State was the first of two in 48 hours, testing what little depth it has available.