What you need to know about the Jayhawks’ roster and season


Phil Roeder, Creative Commons

Kansas wraps up a practice before their first game in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

Mike Puzzanghera, sports editor

Ever-present in the NCAA Tournament, the Kansas Jayhawks earned a No. 4 seed this season after another strong year. Despite losing LaGerald Vick and Udoka Azubuike during the season, they finished third in a Big 12 conference with plenty of tournament teams and made a run to the conference championship game before losing to Iowa State.

Northeastern was selected to play the Jayhawks in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. Here’s a breakdown of Kansas’ roster and its record against other tournament teams for reference during the game.

Roster breakdown

The Jayhawks are led by star forward Dedric Lawson. The 6’9” junior is averaging a double-double this season with 19.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He shoots at a .488 clip from the field and .370 from deep. The big man can defend inside, averaging just over a block a game, and take his game out to the perimeter with 1.3 steals per game. He is also the Jayhawks’ best free throw shooter, going .804 from the line.

Kansas’ offense runs each play through point guard Devon Dotson. The freshman leads the Jayhawks with 3.6 assists per game and is on the court for 32.5 minutes a game. He adds a scoring presence other than Lawson (12.1 points per game), he can shoot from deep (.370) and he matches up with the opposing point guard, using his defensive ability to average 1.3 steals (he leads the team with one more than Lawson on the season).

Quentin Grimes is the Jayhawks’ only other player to have started every game this season, and the freshman is averaging 8.3 points across 27.1 minutes per game. He gave the Jayhawks valuable performances in the conference tournament, including 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals against West Virginia in the semifinals.

Ochai Agbaji took over in the starting lineup after Lagerald Vick took a leave of absence, starting 14 games during the season. The 6’5” wing is averaging 8.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, but struggled during the Big 12 tournament, only connecting on 7 of 21 shots across three games. Kansas will hope he can replicate performances from midseason games against Oklahoma State and TCU (both 20-plus point games across 35-plus minutes) in the tournament.

Freshman David McCormack fills out the Jayhawks’ likely starting lineup for Thursday after the forward received starts down the stretch and made the most of his minutes in the conference tournament. The 6’10” forward is averaging just 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds a game, but that’s in just 10.3 minutes. He scored 13 and added nine rebounds against Texas in the conference tournament and added eight more rebounds the next night against West Virginia. His size will aid the Jayhawks in collecting boards inside against the smaller Huskies.

The first man off the bench will be Marcus Garrett, as the 6’5” sophomore is averaging 7.3 points per game and, despite a poor shooting night in the conference final against Iowa State (2-12), he pulled down a season-high 15 rebounds to aid the Jayhawk cause. The rest of the bench consists of Charlie Moore, K.J. Lawson and Mitch Lightfoot, none of whom average many minutes but provide much-needed rest for the Jayhawks’ starters.

Kansas is led by head coach Bill Self who, in his 16th season in charge, continues to produce great teams every year. He has won one national championship (2008), 14 regular season Big 12 titles and eight conference tournaments. Individually, he has received the Associated Press’ national coach of the year award twice (2009 and 2016) and the Big 12 coach of the year award eight times at Kansas. A first-ballot Hall-of-Famer in 2017, Self saw his run of 14 straight regular season Big 12 titles come to an end this season, but he has still put together a strong team, and his experience can lead the Jayhawks to the later stages of the tournament.

Kansas against the field

Kansas opened the season with a neutral-site game against Michigan State (No. 2 seed). The Jayhawks won, 92-87 as they put away a second-half run by Michigan State behind 20 points and 14 rebounds from Lawson.

Comfortable wins against Vermont (No. 13) and Marquette (No. 5) led the Jayhawks into their big matchup with Tennessee (No. 2) in the NIT Season Tip-Off final, a game which Kansas won 87-81 in overtime.

Kansas won three straight against Wofford (No. 7), New Mexico State (No. 12) and Villanova (No. 6) and 10 straight to open the season before they lost to Arizona State (No. 11) on the road, 80-76.

The start of the Big 12 season saw Kansas beat Oklahoma (No. 9) before losing to Iowa State (No. 6) three days later. Wins over Baylor (No. 9) and Iowa State in their rematch brought the Jayhawks into their final non-conference game of the year.

They faced a tough road battle with Kentucky (No. 2), and were handed a 71-63 loss by the Wildcats.

Kansas then split the season series with Texas Tech (No. 3) and Kansas State (No. 4). Against the Wildcats, they lost on the road before getting their revenge with a home win.

The final two regular season games of the year saw Kansas lose to Oklahoma on the road and beat Baylor at home, sweeping the season series with the Bears.

The only tournament team the Jayhawks played in their conference tournament was Iowa State in the final, and the Cyclones took the championship trophy home with a 78-66 win. They matched Kansas’ strong second half down the stretch, outscoring the Jayhawks 46-44 in the latter period.

Overall, the Jayhawks have a 13-7 record against fellow tournament teams this season. This mark comes with only three of those games coming against a team with lower than a 10-seed (wins over Vermont and New Mexico State and a loss to Arizona State).

While this record is certainly impressive, recent form can be just as important in the tournament. The Jayhawks are coming off a sizeable loss to Iowa State, and two wins over sub-par teams in the conference tournament (Texas and West Virginia). Meanwhile, the Huskies are 16-2 in their last 18 games (Kansas is 11-7 over their last 18), and NU has won its last seven. During that streak, Northeastern’s two losses came in overtime against Charleston and by three points against Towson.