Kansas vs. Arizona State score: The No. 18 Sun Devils upset the No. 1 Jayhawks, who lost for the first time this season
Arizona State defeated Kansas for the second-consecutive season setting off a wild scene in Tempe
Kansas senior guard Lagerald Vick rifled the ball to the top of the key aiming for an open Devon Dotson, but with the No. 1 Jayhawks trailing by two points with 9.2 seconds remaining in regulation, the pass -- along with an undefeated record -- sailed away. Dotson hustled down the floor to try and gather the loose ball, but officials ruled he touched it last in a mad scramble with Sun Devils guard Rob Edwards, who two minutes prior had drilled a 3-pointer to give Arizona State its first lead of the second half.
Edwards, who was fouled on the ensuing play, made both of his free-throw attempts after KU fouled to give ASU an 80-76 upset victory. The upset was just the Sun Devils' second win ever over a No. 1 team in program history -- and their first since Arizona State beat top-ranked Oregon State on the road in 1981.
KU, led by Dedric Lawson's 30-point, 14-rebound outing, held the rope almost throughout as No. 18 Arizona State (9-2) trailed for 37 minutes and 19 seconds of regulation. But the Sun Devils, backed by an enthusiastic home crowd, responded with relentless effort on the court and remained within striking distance. They took advantage of the opportunity late by re-taking the lead with 1:01 to play, and the rest is history.
All this without Sun Devils star Luguentz Dort, their best player all season, not playing up to his reliably high standard. Dort, the freshman leading ASU in scoring, mustered only 13 points and missed 11 of his 14 shot attempts on the evening. He added four rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block but did most of his damage from the charity stripe where he made six of his eight free-throw attempts.
There wasn't one particular player who made up for Dort's relative dud; five players ended the night in double figures. It was an all-around impressive team showing. Arizona State took care of the ball with only 11 turnovers, shot 8 of 21 from 3-point range, and forced 16 Kansas turnovers. ASU also won the battle on the boards, which is no small task against KU even without Udoka Azubuike sidelined indefinitely with injury.
Kansas has been living life on the edge all season. Its 10-0 record entering the game was no doubt impressive, but it was also a bit misleading without context. Save for Lagerald Vick or Dedric Lawson coming up clutch in big moments, the Jayhawks could easily have had three or more losses on their resume -- before tonight. Three of their wins coming into Saturday were within five points, not to mention two -- against Tennessee on a neutral and against Stanford at home -- that were won by six but required an overtime period to settle things.
Bottom line: Kansas was eventually going to get burned as often as it has been playing with fire. It's not surprising nor particularly damaging that its first loss came against a ranked opponent in its first true road game all season.
"Losing sucks and it's never good but it's going to be a positive if we learn from it and don't lose again the same way," Self said after the game. "You never want to lose but it's certainly better in nonconference."
Kansas has a weeklong break before facing Eastern Michigan in its 2018 calendar year finale. From there, it opens Big 12 play against Oklahoma on Jan. 2. There is plenty of time between there to recalibrate, and if you're KU, there's no reason to panic. KU is still the favorite to win the Big 12 for the umpteenth consecutive season.
The real story here is Arizona State flexing its fortitude in a big spot. With Pac-12 play around the corner, and the league looking wide-open with no particular frontrunner, why not the Sun Devils? They have a stellar freshman in Dort, and an exceptionally deep backcourt that is capable of running teams (literally) off the court.
Arizona State is 3-2 against top-50 KenPom teams this season so it will have to consistently play at this high a level to get to that point, but the way in which it ousted KU with its depth and defense suggests you shouldn't go about marking off the Sun Devils as a prominent power this season to potentially place first in the Pac-12.
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