The Jayhawks have had difficulty putting together a complete performance this year, but came into tonight's matchup with #5 Tennessee with a 4-0 record anyway. They opted to keep that going with a shaky winning performance at the NIT season tip off championship.
After a quick start for the Jayhawks, Kansas and Tennessee kept things close through the first half. The Volunteers were able to finish strong, heading to the locker room up 33-31.
While Kansas generally played good defense, they repeatedly gave the ball up on the other end. Tennessee used those turnovers to extend their lead after halftime, and it briefly looked like they might be able to run away with it. Dedric Lawson and Lagerald Vick helped erase the deficit, and Kansas would end up with the lead by the under 8 timeout. From there, the Vols went on a quick run, and the game would stay within and two possessions down the stretch.
With 0:57 left, the teams were tied at 69. Kansas would end up with two shots at taking a late lead, after a miss was rebounded by Vick. KU had a chance to inbound with 2 seconds left, but couldn't find a good look as Lawson settled for an 18 foot turnaround that missed everything.
Kansas finally took control after overtime started. They slowly pulled ahead and kept Tennessee at bay for the last few minutes, moving to 5-0 with an 87-81 victory.
Dedric Lawson was the star, scoring 24 points with 13 rebounds and 5 assists. Kansas gets a break for this next week, and won't play again until next Saturday, when they host Jerod Haase and the Stanford Cardinal.