By LARRY VAUGHT
How good is Kansas junior Dedric Lawson?
Kentucky coach John Calipari says he “is as good as we’re going to play against” this season.
He has two straight double-doubles, including 29 points and 15 rebounds against Iowa State, coming into Saturday night’s game against Kentucky. He has five double-doubles in his last seven games and a Big 12-leading 13 for the season, which is tied for second nationally. He has scored 20 or more points in 10 games this season and is second in the Big 12 in scoring at 19.5 points per game and leads the league in rebounding at 10.9 rebounds per game. Lawson leads Kansas with 21 blocked shots and is also eighth in the league with a 52.9 field goal percentage.
He’s even been shooting a few more 3-pointers in recent games — and coach Bill Self is fine with that.
“I think he should shoot more 3’s, I’ve told him that throughout the season. He’s a good shooter. The way he’s going to be defended now is that you can put two guys on him and lay on him and beat him up, so to speak. So he needs to get away from the basket some. So I don’t think those are bad plays at all,” Self said.
Self isn’t sure how Kentucky will choose to guard Lawson but knows all the Jayhawks have to be aggressive.
“We all need to be very aggressive and not play to just one guy shooting the basketball. We need to play with all five guys being threats out there and I think we go through periods of times in games when we don’t do that very well,” Self said.
Kansas is short-handed inside but Calipari doesn’t think UK can wear down Lawson.
“I’ve seen him play 30-38 minutes a game and he’s averaging 25 and whatever, 15, and 29 and 18 last game. They threw six different guys at him, so I’m not sure that’s affecting him,” Calipari said.
Kentucky senior Reid Travis played against Lawson before.
“He’s a good player. Everyone that’s in there that goes against them has got to stay active. I think the biggest thing is every time you’re guarding him, just stay active, try to limit his touches, try to limit his low-post scores, things like that,” Travis said Friday. “That will help us be effective. It’s going to be a tough task, but I think, with a lot of guys guarding him, able to have a chance at it, continue to work hard, stay active, we should be good.”
Has anyone volunteered to guard Lawson?
“No, no one has said that. The coaches are going to put the right person on him and we’re going to have the right scheme to try and shut him down because he’s a big part of what they do offensively,” Travis said. “So, it’s going to be a team effort. I’m looking forward to the challenge when I get my chance.”