No. 1 Kansas falters in final minutes during 80-76 loss to Arizona State

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (11) loses the ball in front of Arizona State guard Rob Edwards during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Tempe, Ariz. — His team led for 37 of the game’s 40 minutes against the No. 18 team on the road, but all Kansas coach Bill Self could talk about after top-ranked KU’s first loss of the season — 80-76 to Arizona State at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday night — was the miscommunication at the end that cost the Jayhawks.

“I did such a bad job in the last timeout,” Self said. “I did such a bad job in making sure we got a shot. We were going to try to shoot a 3, just to end it if we could. And I said, ‘Run it like ‘Black’ but don’t go backdoor.’ Well, all Lagerald (Vick) heard was ‘black,’ and black’s a backdoor lob. So I screwed that deal up.”

The play, which was KU’s second to last of the night — but the only one that mattered — came with KU trailing by 2 and less than a minute to play.

Designed to get freshman point guard Devon Dotson (12 points, 5 assists, 5 turnovers in 32 minutes) downhill for a drive-and-kick 3-pointer, the play fell apart when Vick went backdoor, pulled back, took the pass from Dotson on the wing out of position and then fired a pass back to Dotson.

Instead of catching it and trying to make something happen, Dotson just briefly turned his head and the ball deflected off his hands and into the back court. That led to a violation and allowed Arizona State to take possession. Two free throws by Rob Edwards later, the Sun Devils (9-2) had iced the game and the student section at Wells Fargo Arena was preparing to spill onto the floor.

Edwards finished with 15 to lead the Sun Devils, and 13 of them came in the second half.

“He was really the difference in the game,” Self said. “Because when we had control of the game he basically, single-handedly, brought him back.”

After jumping out to a fabulous start and forcing ASU to play catch-up all night long, the Jayhawks (10-1) led by 7 with just less than five minutes to play but did not score a field goal in the game’s final 4:58, and in the final two minutes got just two free throws from Dedric Lawson, who led all scorers with 30 points, including a line of 18 points and eight rebounds in the first half.

For much of this one, Lawson was virtually unstoppable, working hard to get position in the paint and hitting easy buckets in close for much of the game.

The Sun Devils did a much better job of forcing him out of the action in the second half and KU struggled to find a second option. The Jayhawks hit just 7 of 28 from 3-point range — 3 of 14 in the second half — and shot just 16 free throws compared to twice as many by ASU.

“It felt like it was a lot more than twice,” Self said of the free-throw advantage for the home team. “We gave them free points, obviously. But I’d have to go back and watch the tape because every coach thinks they’re getting a bad whistle. So I’m not going to go into that and say we got one or didn’t get one. But certainly it felt like we had a hard time getting any easy points and we certainly saw them get a lot.”

What it came down to for Self was the simple fact that Kansas could not make enough winning plays down the stretch and that he did not get his team in the proper position to win it after Kansas received new life when ASU guard Luguentz Dort was whistled for a travel on an easy layup after he blew by both Quentin Grimes and Lawson with 22 seconds to play.

Related document

Box score: Arizona State 80, Kansas 76 ( .PDF )

Instead of being down four and in a tough spot, KU had a chance. But the final play was doomed from its design.

“We got what we deserved,” Self said. “We didn’t get stops or, obviously, make plays down the stretch. … I wish I’d handled that (final chance) situation different. If I had it to do all over again right now, I’d have played pick-and-pop and let’s let Dedric shoot a 3 to win it or not win it.”

Said Lawson of Saturday’s tough loss: “It’s a very tough one because we had the game and we let it slip right through our hands. … We didn’t think we were going to go undefeated, but we didn’t think we were going to lose here.”

Kansas will take the next four days off for the holiday break — several Jayhawks went straight to the airport after Saturday’s loss to head home for a few days — and will report back to Lawrence Wednesday to prepare for Saturday’s battle with Eastern Michigan at home, which marks the final nonconference game before the start of Big 12 play.

“Losing sucks and it’s never good,” Self said. “But it actually can be a positive if you learn from it so it doesn’t happen again the same way. … The reality of it is we weren’t going to run the table but certainly you’d rather lose from a nonconference loss than a conference loss.”

Comments

Len Shaffer

I wonder if Self will feel differently after he looks at the tape.

In my nearly 50 years of being a Jayhawk fan, I don't think I've ever claimed that a game was stolen from us (okay, maybe the Battle of New Orleans in '81, but that was just on the last play), but I'm claiming it here.

I thought that was one of the worst-officiated games I've ever seen, and 90% of the bad calls were against KU. I mean, ASU had THREE fouls in the entire first half!

And then of course it was so much worse having to listen to that complete f***ing moron Bill Walton for the entire game! Has there ever been a worse analyst in the history of sports??? How can anyone stand that guy???

There were so many imbecilic statements that it's hard to know where to start, but how about this one: Everyone thought LaGerald Vick was going to be great but Dedric Lawson was a surprise. Never mind that Lawson was a preseason first-team All American! And then there was the classic about seeing Mitch Lightfoot for the first time, after Walton saw him play against ASU last year.

It's so obvious that Walton puts absolutely NO work into preparing for these games and that he just makes these immediate assessments of players without having a clue what he's talking about. How about his ranting about McCormack not getting more playing time based on, what, 30 seconds of action???

It's nauseating enough to have a game stolen out from under us, but to have it done while having to suffer through two hours of horsesh** from Walton is practically unbearable.

3 weeks, 4 days ago

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Brad Avery

Agree that the officials were awful, and I presume, since this was home and home, they may have been Big 12 officials who are usually the worst in the country. However, KU rarely receives any breaks from officiating crews, and this will be good preparation for the conference season. The fact is the officiating will not get much better (I hope no worse) and KU has to find ways to overcome bad calls. So, our guys need to get serious about overcoming their own flaws (particularly turnovers and bad shots) so we can move forward with another great season.

3 weeks, 4 days ago

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Jerry Walker

Agree about Walton...horrible experience. If he ever reaches the level of horsesh** announcer it'll be a HUGE improvement.

3 weeks, 4 days ago

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Bryce Landon

The refs didn't steal anything from us. We gave the game to ASU gift-wrapped and on a silver platter.

3 weeks, 4 days ago

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Dane Pratt

Yep. Poor officiating is indigenous to college basketball. Accept it as part of the game and pray they don’t make some horrendous call that costs you.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Marius Rowlanski

Then it was a gift wrapped in a white and black shirt with a whistle instead of a bow.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Barry Weiss

being there in person can be good or bad as far as replays on some of the calls. from in the stands, it sure seemed like there were many times in the first half a KU player was mauled when he made a basket, but no "and one". Couple of times Dotson was mauled bringing the ball up court and they would call traveling or a tie up. The disparity in total fouls called does say a lot. Still, damn, that last play I thought we would try to go inside to Dedric to tie it or go to the line where he is one of our best. 3's just weren't falling for us or them, until they hit two big ones in the last couple of minutes to tie it.

3 weeks, 4 days ago

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Steve Quatrocky

Yes, we led the game by 5 all the way through until the refs decided to call Marcus for Travelling when he was surrounded by 3 guys at half court who knocked him over (announcer agreed), then next possession Q shoots a 3 and being hit on the elbow makes the shot sail 20yds to the right but no call (announcer agreed), then next possession Illegal Screen on Vick when both were moving, bingo score tied. More crap calls after that to keep it close, but that sequence is what took the lead away and let them keep it a one/two possession game to the end. But, In the End, we blew it. Whenever you are within one possession in the last 2 minutes, you didnt close the game right and deserved to lose, regardless of the refs who orchestrated the close ending.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Marius Rowlanski

I've seen innumerable bad calls but I don't think I've ever seen a referee crew call the game one way for one team and another way for the other. I felt good by how we played. Would have been nice to get our final shot before Vick fumbled it away but it never should have been nearly as close.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Allin Herring

I understand some of the ref stuff but this loss is on Grimes and his 4-12 shooting and lack of defense coupled with Garrett's 0-5 shooting. Self has to stop letting these 2 guys touch the ball within the final 10 minutes. I am afraid what Kentucky is,going to do to us there. Hopefully Dok is back by then and we will have someone else to get the ball besides those two.l
. Way too many threes at the end of the game.

3 weeks, 4 days ago

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Bill Kackley

Totally agree. That was as one-sided officiating as I have ever seen including the 600 plus games I coached. And Grimes is killing us. Need to get back to more of the high low offense.

3 weeks, 4 days ago

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Steve Quatrocky

Doke's return will make everything Okey Dokey again and the high low will return naturally, making this smaller lineup more effective as the change up pitch. Grimes on the other hand? Dont know what to say, he's got too much talent to give up on, its a good thing Bill got to see the good Q last summer. Maybe its the whole thing of schoolwork, college schedule plus travel schedule that has him so discombobulated. I hope finishing his first semester cures the problem. Hey, look at the bright side, with Lagerald coming back, we arent depending on him like we would have and this funk means he wont be a lottery pick. So far, he is this years' Kenny Gregory, Josh Selby, Wayne Selden and dont forget Perry was passive his first semester before figuring it out soon after.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Marius Rowlanski

Josh Selby isn't even in the same league as Gregory or Selden.

Not sure why you would think so? Both Gregory and Selden both gave Kansas 4 solid years, Selby didn't even manage one complete season.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Jerry Walker

Vick's performances are an enigma to some...but not me. He has one asset - the nights where he has an "unconscious" shooting touch. Otherwise...no leadership...poor shooting decisions...poor rebounding. He's a liability on defense where he's more suited to wearing one of those goofy hats and carrying a red cape and shouting ole.

3 weeks, 4 days ago

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Tom Gillaspie

Extremely well said. Off and on like a switch from game to game. Biggest issue - little to no leadership skills.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Bryce Landon

Where to start...where to start...

1) From this day forward, I hate Arizona State. There are a lot of college teams I have grown to hate over the years, and I am adding ASU to that list.

2) Good Lord, our defense was terrible in the second half. We were basically trading buckets with the Sun Devils the last ten minutes of the game! You can't win when you don't play defense.

3) Quentin Grimes did more to lose this game for us than anyone else in blue jerseys tonight. He was a turnover machine out there with lazy passes that got picked off and converted into ASU baskets. Honestly, that is the closest that one player has come to single-handedly losing a game for KU since Elijah Johnson single-handedly pissed away the 2013 Sweet 16 against Michigan.

4) There is a sense where I'm not surprised KU lost tonight. I am surprised (and disgusted) that we lost the way we did, melting down like Frosty when Professor Hinkel locked him in the greenhouse, but I'm not surprised we lost. We have been tempting fate almost all season, and tonight fate kicked us in the nuts.

5) To all my fellow KU basketball fans who think Dick Vitale is an insufferable Duke cheerleader - I never want to hear you complain about Dickie V again. Not after Bill Walton was basically ASU's biggest cheerleader last year and this year. Good Lord, could ESPN have found a more ignorant tool to call this game than Walton? And his broadcast partner was equally terrible, calling Dedric Lawson "Dedric Lawrence" and referring to Lawrence, KS as "Austin". Also, why did Walton feel it necessary to say, "I favor bridges over walls"? No one watching cares about your political opinions, Bill. You're on ESPN, not CNN or MSNBC. I'd tell you to stick to sports, but you suck at that too.

All in all, I feel like ASU urinated in my eggnog and then Bill Walton took a dump in my stocking, and the Jayhawks knocked over my tree.

In the words of former Ole Miss coach Bob Weltlich, "Merry F***ing Christmas".

3 weeks, 4 days ago

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Jeff Coffman

I vote for setting up a screen of distraction...15 of 16 from the line....in one easy change, we were able to solve our FT % shooting woes. Of course the true test would have been if we had Dok out there, but either way, that was definitely helpful for our team.

It would have been nice to have been able to go to the line more than half of the time that ASU did. A 16 to 32 shot comparison, shows they were more aggressive to getting to the line or we were settling for 3s.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Jeff Foster

I hope for just one game this year, we have Dick Vitale and Bill Walton do our game. Talk about an earwig drilling into your brain!

Well, we were going to lose at some point and this team probably should have 4 losses already anyway. Get Dok back, try to figure out what in the hell is going on with Grimes, Dotson keep getting better, Vick find that consistency and never, ever, let Garrett shoot the ball any further out than 5 ft, and thank Santa for Lawson, those are my Christmas wishes. Rock Chalk!

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Dane Pratt

Though the clash of enormous egos would be entertaining the 8th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment which would prevent that from happening. Has there ever been two people more in love with the sound of their own voice?

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Tony Bandle

Random Thoughts - If you had told me on Late Night that:

1] We'd be 11 -1 at the start of conference play. [no offense Eastern Michigan].

2] We'd be ranked in the top 2 most of that time.

3] We'd still have issues with inconsistency in scoring, defense, shot selection and turnovers.

4] That Dok would miss over half of the games.

5] That our only loss was to a ranked team, on the road, on a night whereby we were totally "homered" by the refs.

I think I would take it. Still, this team has the potential to be way better, Of that, there is no doubt. However, there's plenty of doubt to see if they get there!

P.S. Yes..Bill Walton is a total D##K.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Kyle Neuer

A) I hate losing to a Dukie.
B) Take care of the frickin' ball, guys. Entirely too many boneheaded passes that wound up in ASU's hands. And too many rushed/forced shots.
We're short-handed and inexperienced. Losing was inevitable at some point and will provide lots to work on in practice.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Bj Cassady

I have commented before about our inferior guard play and this time it cost us the game. Also giving up 49 points in a half is an unwinnable way to go. D Lawson and Dotson showed up but nobody else played even average. To win on the road against a top 25 team you have to show up play with grit and play above average we do not do that. Look for losses against OU, TCU, Tech, K-State, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas on the road, the streak is done unless Grimes, and the rest show up to play.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Corey Sparks

BJ, that's a bit dramatic, don't you think? This was their first true road game this year, and for a good portion of our payers, first college road game.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Bj Cassady

Not really we have had several close calls before this game where we could have had some losses. I thought this might be our best team since the P Pearce era but I think until our recruits perform they are just untested.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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John Kelley

" We didn’t think we were going to go undefeated, but we didn’t think we were going to lose here.”

Really! It's not like Arizona State didn't defeat KU last year at home so you thought it couldn't happen to the same team on the road the following year?

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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