LAWRENCE — Big 12 play has arrived. So too, perhaps, has Quentin Grimes.

The Kansas basketball freshman guard scored 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting in Wednesday night’s 70-63 home victory over No. 23 Oklahoma. Grimes’ most important play came in the contest’s home stretch, a diving pickpocket of OU’s Miles Reynolds that set up a Devon Dotson and-1 layup conversion that gave the fifth-ranked Jayhawks (12-1, 1-0) a nine-point lead with 2:35 to play.

Grimes' steal turned a potentially disastrous sequence into the highlight of the former five-star recruit’s young collegiate career, at least in one qualified source's opinion.

“It was the best play he’s made all year. It was a great play,” KU coach Bill Self said. “The reason it was a great play was because he turned it over and got it back. You guys remember Russell Robinson? Whenever he turned it over, that’s when he was most dangerous, because he would always steal it back. That play that Quentin made, it goes from them being in transition with a chance to obviously score with numbers to us getting an and-1, so it could’ve been a five-point swing real easily just on that one play. Great play.”

The former Jayhawk guard Robinson, who played under Self from 2004-08, averaged at least two steals across each of his final three seasons in Lawrence. For Grimes, the team’s 6-foot-5, 210-pound thoroughbred out of The Woodlands, Texas, Wednesday's takeaway was his first since a Nov. 23 contest against Tennessee and just his fourth steal of the season.

Ending Wednesday’s game on a high note, though, should build confidence and may change the direction of a season that to this point has failed to live up to Grimes’ top-10 ranking in the Class of 2018 — the potential one-and-done prospect is averaging 8.5 points on 41.2-percent shooting with a 29.2-percent clip from 3-point range, adding 2.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest.

“It was a momentum changer,” said junior forward Dedric Lawson of Grimes’ steal. “We had nothing going.”

“He’s a great player,” added Dotson. “I feel like when he gets going, that’s when we’re at our best. When he’s knocking down shots, making plays, it really uplifts the team.”

That certainly was the case in the first half, where Grimes scored a game-high 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting en route to his team’s 40-25 advantage at the break. He did most of his damage during runs of 15-0 and 10-2, which Grimes capped with a 3-point make and streaking dunk, respectively.

Grimes said he feels “a lot more comfortable" of late in the Jayhawks' system and in how he fits into a guard lineup that also includes sophomore Marcus Garrett.

“I’ve really been staying in the gym and getting up extra shots, talking to my trainer and what he sees on the court that I can change up,” Grimes said. “(I’m) just getting back to my roots of staying in the gym.”

The late-game steal, combined with the finish from Dotson, “kind of swung the game,” Grimes acknowledged.

“I don’t feel like we escaped (with a win). I feel like we got off to a slow start in the second half, and the defensive intensity picked up throughout the pace of the game,” Grimes said. “Then when I got the steal I feel like everyone locked down more defensively. Then we came out with the win.”

Throughout his struggles — Grimes averaged just 5.3 points from Nov. 16 to Dec. 18, failing to eclipse the 20-minute mark in victories over Stanford, New Mexico State and Villanova — he never lost a positive spirit and outlook on the situation, Dotson observed.

“He can be really great,” Dotson said. “He’s big, athletic. He can cause problems for the defense. When he gets going, he’s really good.”

Depending on how the team’s 4 p.m. Saturday contest against Iowa State (11-2, 1-0) at Hilton Coliseum goes, it may be time to start talking about Grimes’ struggles in the past tense.

“I know how important Big 12 play is," Grimes said. “We don’t want to let any games get away from us, especially at home. I know I’ve gotta just do whatever I can to help the team get out with a win.”