Landen Lucas is surging at the best time

It has been a long time coming for Landen Lucas, but the senior from Portland has finally turned a corner, and it came at one of the most important times. Over the last few games, he has been a productive player on offense, be it scoring or rebounding. Because the Jayhawks are missing the depth and presence of Carlton Bragg, it is even more critical that Landen Lucas continues to perform.

Against Kentucky, Landen Lucas played 27 minutes, scoring 13 points with 5 rebounds. Before the big SEC/Big 12 showdown at Rupp Arena, Lucas told Gary Bedore of The Kansas City StarI think it might be even bigger this year just because of the records and rankings of the two teams. We are both in the same kind of situation coming off a loss wanting to rebound. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a big game and definitely fun for everybody to compete in.”

One big aspect of Lucas’ game that has been much improved this season is the strength he is showing below the rim. He regularly draws between three and four fouls, and he has fouled out three times this season. He is almost always smart with the way he fouls, and he regularly has a purpose. Being physical inside of the paint has helped quite a bit in regards to rebounding. Last season, he clocked in at 6.8 rebounds per game when it was all said and done. Almost halfway through conference play, Lucas is averaging 7.9 rebounds per game, and that figure is on its way up.

Landen Lucas’ surge could not have come at a better time for the University of Kansas. With no Carlton Bragg and no Udoka Azubuike available down low, Dwight Coleby, and freshman newcomer Mitch Lightfoot, are KU’s top bench options in the frontcourt. But it’s become clear that Lucas is the team’s center, and when he’s not in the game, Kansas is a very different team. Combined, Coleby and Lightfoot were only featured in 14 minutes against Kentucky, scoring three points, which came from Coleby.  

After KU’s impressive win against the Wildcats, Dwight Coleby told Scott Chasen of Topeka-Capital Journal“He just (was) in the right spots. He’s been playing so long. He’s been stepping up for us all year, really. So he’s been getting better and better.”

As an underclassmen, Lucas was dubbed as “soft”, and it seems that his transformation has come at the right time. He has the ability to play smart basketball, but also be physically dominant and take over games against some of the biggest teams in the country. From a soft, overshadowed freshman, to a physical, force-to-be-reckoned-with senior, Landen Lucas is leading a very talented Jayhawk team through one of their toughest stretches that they’ve seen in a long while.

Notes:

  • Landen Lucas has almost a 2-point increase in scoring from his junior to senior year.
  • Lucas has seven double-digit scoring performances this year. He had two during last year’s regular season.
  • Landen Lucas had grabbed at least 10 rebounds in seven of his last ten games. Since Udoka Azubuike went down prior to the UNLV game on December 22, Lucas has averaged 10.7 boards per contest.

Other news:
Kansas’ guard Lagerald Vick “likely hit a female student” and has been recommended probation. This news comes from Laura Bauer and Jesse Newell of The Kansas City Star. The story claims the incident occurred at the end of 2015. There’s been no public suspension of Vick, and though while we cannot speculate what went on, he did miss two games last season due to “illness.”