MANHATTAN, Kan. — Devon Dotson scored 25 points to help top-ranked Kansas absorb the loss of center Udoka Azubuike for long stretches of the game, and the cold-shooting Jayhawks held on to beat Kansas State 62-58 on Saturday for their 14th straight win.
Azubuike finished with six points and nine rebounds while playing just 20 minutes after hurting his ankle in the opening minutes of the game. David McCormack came off the bench to score nine in his place, helping the Jayhawks (26-3, 15-1) edge closer to clinching at least a share of another Big 12 championship.
Cartier Diarra scored 15 points and Xavier Sneed and Makol Mawien had 13 apiece for the Wildcats (9-20, 2-14), who were held scoreless for nearly 5 1/2 minutes late in the game. That allowed Kansas to score eight straight points and break open a 48-all game, then cruise to its 11th win in the last 12 games between the bitter rivals.
It was their first meeting since their game in Lawrence late last month ended in a brawl that spilled into the disabled seating section of Allen Fieldhouse. Several punches were thrown, and Kansas forward Silvio de Sousa took a stool and nearly swung it before assistant coach Jerrance Howard grabbed it away from him.
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De Sousa is still serving his 12-game suspension, while teammate David McCormack sat two games and Kansas State players James Love and Antonio Gordon also were suspended. Both schools were reprimanded by the Big 12.
In an attempt to make good, the two teams met at mid-court after the National Anthem and shook hands.
The Jayhawks quickly ran out to a nine-point lead once the game tipped off, but their momentum slowed when Azubuike hit the deck holding his right ankle with 16 minutes to go in the half. Team trainers spent a couple of minutes with the 7-footer before helping him to the locker room, and Kansas State took advantage of his absence to whittle into the lead.
Azubuike returned with 9 minutes to go, but the Jayhawks couldn’t shake the Wildcats and led just 35-34 at the break.
They finally went ahead for the first time since the opening minute early in the second half, and coach Bruce Weber’s crew even pushed the lead to four points on a couple occasions. But despite Azubuike still hobbling around, the Jayhawks drew back even a couple minutes later, and it was still 48-all when Dotson hit two foul shots with 6:54 to go.
The Jayhawks, who at that point were 3 of 13 from beyond the arc, finally got a 3-pointer from Christian Braun to stretch the lead. Then, after Mike McGuirl missed a 3 at the other end, Dotson drove the lane as the shot clock wound down and got a leaning layup to go while getting fouled – he made it to stretch the lead to 56-48 at the final media timeout.
The Wildcats finally put an end to the 8-0 run when Diarra got a layup to go with 2:30 left, but the Jayhawks kept coming up with answers down the stretch, allowing them to hang on for their ninth consecutive road win.
Kansas struggled the entire way with turnovers, and Marcus Garrett had a particularly rough afternoon. The starting guard had three of them and didn’t make a field goal until his layup made it 60-52 with 1:20 left. But the Jayhawks showed their veteran poise when the game got close, and that should pay off when March Madness rolls around.
Kansas State hung with the Jayhawks the entire way despite Diarra playing with four fouls down the stretch and a massive disadvantage on the boards. The Wildcats did it by capitalizing off turnovers and hitting timely 3s, even though they were similarly sloppy on offense and struggled at the foul line.
Kansas returns home for Senior Night on Wednesday against TCU.
Kansas State visits Oklahoma State in its road finale Wednesday night.