Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

K.J. Lawson Grabs Spotlight in Kansas Victory

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

K.J. Lawson Grabs Spotlight in Kansas Victory

Article excerpt

SALT LAKE CITY — Kansas assistant coach Norm Townsend watched as K.J. Lawson entered the KU locker room following the Jayhawks’ 87-53 dismantling of Northeastern and was quickly surrounded by cameras, microphones and an occasional tape recorder.

Lawson’s first NCAA Tournament game had been a success, with the 6-foot-8 sophomore scoring 13 points off the bench in nearly 23 minutes at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Those may be pedestrian numbers for the other Lawson — brother Dedric, who finished with his usual double-double, 25 points and 11 rebounds — but they produced arguably K.J.’s best game in a Jayhawk uniform.

“We need to bring mom and dad to games more often,” said Townsend, putting a wry smile on Lawson’s usual stoic face.

For the record, Keelon and Dedra Lawson have now seen their sons play just twice this season, so Thursday was a red-letter day for the family. They will get another opportunity Saturday, when the Jayhawks match up with Auburn in a second-round Midwest Regional game.

K.J. finished with 6-of-10 shooting from the field, knocked down a 3-pointer, grabbed three rebounds and added two assists and a blocked shot.

“He definitely came out aggressive,” Dedric said of his brother. “He played defense. He got some rebounds early. He played great tonight. We need everyone to step up, and tonight was his calling.

“It was very special for him to go out there and produce at such a high level. Coach gave him the opportunity early and put him in, and he did good with it.”

The 13 points marked just the third time K.J. has scored in double figures this season. The six field goals and 10 attempts were both season-highs, and the 22 minutes, 53 seconds on the court has been topped only once. He was also a plus-36 in the final box score. No player on either team had a better plus/minus total.

“I didn’t anticipate spreading the minutes out like we did,” KU coach Bill Self said. …

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