Grant-Foster saves No. 7 KU in 65-61 win over N Dakota State
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Tyon Grant-Foster drove for the go-ahead basket with just over a minute to go, then swatted away Sam Griesel’s layup with 10 seconds left, helping seventh-ranked Kansas escape with a 65-61 victory over North Dakota State on Saturday.
Jalen Wilson had 14 points and Ochai Agbaji added 13, including a free throw in the final seconds that helped the Jayhawks (4-1) finish off a 7-0 run to end the game and avoid their first loss to an unranked team since the 2019 Big 12 Tournament.
Kansas trailed 61-60 when Grant-Foster, its high-scoring junior college transfer, skated to the basket for an easy layup. North Dakota State (0-4) promptly turned it over with an offensive foul and then, after two free throws by Christian Braun, Grant-Foster made his mark on the defensive end to help preserve the comeback win.
Tyree Eady had 14 points for the Bison. Rock Kreuser added 11 before fouling out late.
After romping past Division II Washburn on Thursday night in their first home game of the season, the Jayhawks had their hands full with the first Division I foe of their five-game stand at Allen Fieldhouse.
In fact, the Bison ripped off the first eight points of the game and trailed just 35-33 at halftime.
The second half is when the Jayhawks usually assert control against unranked opponents — their last such loss in the Phog was in February 2018. But with only about 100 friends and family on hand because of the pandemic, there was none of the raucous noise and intimidating mystique that has given them such a home-floor advantage over the years.
North Dakota State gave up the first bucket of the second half but then ripped off an 11-2 run, at one point forcing Kansas coach Bill Self to burn a timeout. And the Bison still led 51-44 with 12 minutes to go on a 3-pointer from Maleeck Harden-Hayes before the media timeout allowed the Jayhawks to gather their wits.
They responded with nine quick points of their own, suddenly attacking the basket with newfound aggression, only for North Dakota State to keep coming up with answers. The Bison hit a couple of baskets late in the shot clock, doing their best to shorten the game, and were left clinging to a 61-60 lead when Kansas called timeout with 1:38 to go.
North Dakota State has become a regular NCAA Tournament team and, despite losing a lot of scoring from last year’s 25-win team, appears to have a chance to turn around its 0-4 start. The Bison took No. 9 Creighton, which visits the Phog on Tuesday night, down to the wire before losing last week.
Kansas had been hitting more than eight 3-pointers per game, but it was 4 of 15 from beyond the arc and just 13 of 19 from the foul line. And without much inside presence from David McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot, that poor shooting just about doomed the Jayhawks to a rare home loss.
North Dakota State begins Summit League play against South Dakota State on Thursday night. The Jayhawks turn their attention to a top-10 showdown with the Bluejays on Tuesday night.
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