“It’s never a pretty game when we play here,” said coach Bill Self after his Kansas team’s 69-59 win on Saturday night. You don’t say, Bill?
After consecutive games where the Jayhawks scored more than 100 points, they found themselves in a dog fight against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Kansas couldn’t buy a basket at times, and it was turning the ball over at a season-high rate. Its top scorer missed his first seven shots from the floor. Being an experienced, seasoned team, the Jayhawks needed somebody to step up and close out their first conference road win, and Frank Mason, the heart and soul of the team in so many ways, did just that.
Mason scored 17 points and hauled in a season-high 10 rebounds to collect the second double-double of his career. He made all eight of his free throws attempts and dished out five assists. As he’s done so many times throughout his career, he served as the team’s anchor. The ESPN announcers called him a “pitbull.” It may have been a hideous night for some of KU’s best players, but the Jayhawks escaped Lubbock with the only thing they were in search for: a win.
A back-and-forth first half was filled with turnovers, missed layups, and bricked jump shots – from both teams. Neither team distanced itself from the other as the Jayhawks took a 29-27 advantage into the locker room.
Kansas came out after intermission on a 12-2 run to seize control. Carlton Bragg started the second half and his presence was immediately felt, keying an early scoring run by contributing two baskets at the rim. But right when the Jayhawks started to separate themselves from the Red Raiders, Texas Tech battled back to eventually tie the game at 44 apiece.
As Kansas entered the home stretch of the game, it led by just two with six minutes remaining. Mason and Wayne Selden, who had struggled all game, took over and scored eight of the team’s next 10 points, providing the top-ranked Jayhawks with a seven-point cushion. A few free throws later and the final horn sounded, granting Kansas a 69-59 victory.
It was the 13th straight win for #1 KU, which still hasn’t lost to Texas Tech since 2009. The two spots where the Jayhawks won this game? Free throws and rebounds.
At the line, Kansas was a very efficient 88% on 14/16 shooting. The Red Raiders? Quite the opposite. It was painful watching Texas Tech shoot free throws on Saturday evening. It failed to convert 50% at the line, going 9/19 for a dubious 48%. On the glass, the Jayhawks out-rebounded Texas Tech by 16. Combine those statistics with a 41% mark from the floor, and your odds to take down the nation’s top team are not strong.
- Mason: 17 points (3/8 FG, 8/8 FT), 10 rebounds, five assists, and a steal in 31 minutes. After struggling mightily (5/20 FG) in Kansas’ triple OT win over Oklahoma last week, he was fantastic on Saturday night.
- Perry Ellis: 15 points (7/16 FG) and 10 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double in 31 minutes. He missed a lot of shots at the rim, but once again, he proved to be the dependable scoring threat for the nation’s best team.
- Wayne Selden: nine points (4/13 FG, 1/7 from three) in a team-high 33 minutes. He missed his first seven shots and didn’t score until the second half, but he made some huge shots for Kansas down the stretch.
- Brannen Greene and Svi Mykhailiuk both hit two three-pointers. Greene played 11 minutes, Svi played 14.
- Landen Lucas: five points, two rebounds in 16 minutes. The statline isn’t super sexy, but his high basketball IQ was exactly what KU needed down the stretch of a tight road game. He played splendid defense and made very few mistakes, which was crucial for the Jayhawks.
- Devonte’ Graham: four points (1/6 FG), four rebounds, and two assists. He didn’t play as much as he typically does (still 30 minutes). Self said that it was a “rough night” for him.
- Carlton Bragg: four points and three rebounds. He keyed KU’s run to open the second half. He played a total of 14 minutes.
- Neither Cheick Diallo (three minutes) nor Jamari Traylor (12) scored.
- Kansas: 42% FG, 41% from three, 88% from the line.
- Texas Tech: 41% FG, 25% from three, 47% from the line. Ouch.
- Rebounds: KU 42, TTU 26.
- Assists/turnovers: KU 13/15, TTU 10/9.
- Kansas is 14-1 overall and 3-0 in Big 12 play, tying the Jayhawks with West Virginia atop the standings.
- Next for Kansas: Tuesday night at #17 West Virginia, where the Jayhawks have not won since 2013.