In KU’s last 20 games coming off of a loss, the Jayhawks are now 20-0.
That’s one way to stay dominant over the course of a going-on 13th straight year.
No. 3 Kansas bounced back from a home loss with a 74-71 victory over Kansas State in Manhattan on Monday night. Now 9-2 in Big 12 play, the Jayhawks showed everybody why it’s foolish to question who the favorite to take the league is.
Fueled by the Svi Mykhailiuk travel last month in Lawrence, Kansas State came out of the gates on fire, seizing a 20-8 lead and prompting a timeout from Bill Self. With things threatening to get away from the Jayhawks early, Self inserted Carlton Bragg into the game. Bragg, who missed the last three games due to suspension, provided the spark KU needed to control the rest of the half. He scored four quick points on his first two possessions in the game, and the Jayhawks climbed back to finish the half on a 35-20 run. At halftime, KU led 37-35.
To open the second half, Josh Jackson buried two big threes to help the Jayhawks build a nine-point lead. Jackson had 17 points before getting into foul trouble, which helped K-State hang around. It wasn’t until the 4:38 mark when the Wildcats claimed their first lead of the second half at 60-59, but Frank Mason countered with a personal 4-0 spurt to stretch it to 63-60. Dean Wade drained a three to tie things with 2:54 left, but Svi Mykhailiuk answered with a three of his own 20 seconds later. The Jayhawks led the rest of the night.
Mason led the team with 21 points, including 13 in the second half. He and Devonte’ Graham went 5-for-6 at the line to close it out, eliminating any hope for a last-second comeback.
Wade scored 20 points, including 3-for-3 on threes, because of course he did. He has scored 20 points twice in his college career. The opponents in those two contests: Kansas and Kansas.
There was also the officiating, which, as it usually does, was controversial. Very few whistles occurred in the first half as neither team reached the bonus. In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Kansas was called for nine fouls to Kansas State’s two, but things evened out over the last 10 minutes, as the Wildcats were called for 10 to the Jayhawks’ two. In the end, KU had 18 fouls and K-State had 16, so you’d never know it was ever controversial just by looking at the box score.
Mason and Jackson were the leaders, but Bragg was huge for Kansas. He didn’t do much in the second half after suffering a leg injury, but he returned to the game and should be fine going forward. It couldn’t have been a more hostile environment for him to make his return to action, and he handled it very well. KU was in foul trouble the whole second half, but having an extra body to pick up fouls made it seem like the Jayhawks had lots more room for error than they had without Bragg.
Simply put, this is why the Jayhawks win the Big 12 every year. Just when people begin to think, “Hmm, maybe somebody else will actually dethrone them this time,” they go out and grab a win like this. The Big 12 is fantastic, but Kansas, once again, is the class of the league.
- Frank Mason: 21 points (7/17 FG), three assists, and two boards in 38 minutes. He’s fantastic.
- Devonte’ Graham: 10 points (2/5 FG), seven rebounds, and six assists in 36 minutes. He’s not scoring as much as I thought he would this year, but he’s doing the little things, which is so crucial for the Jayhawks in these road nail-biters.
- Josh Jackson: 18 points (7/12 FG) in 25 minutes. He was in and out of foul trouble, plus he got whacked in the face (and got his in the eye in practice earlier, too). He absolutely has to improve at the free throw line, though.
- Landen Lucas: seven points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes. When he’s not in the game, the gap in the quality of defense KU exhibits is night-and-day.
- Svi Mykhailiuk: eight points (2/3 on threes) in 36 minutes. His late three was the biggest shot in the game.
- Carlton Bragg: six points and three rebounds in 13 minutes. The key to the first half.
- Lagerald Vick: four points and five rebounds in 26 minutes. He’s such an important piece because of the freshness and athleticism he brings off the bench. I can’t think of another team that can bring that sort of athlete off the bench for 25+ minutes per game.
- Jayhawks: 48% from the floor, 47% on threes, and 67% at the line.
- Wildcats: 38%, 36%, and 65%.
- K-State, which is not a good rebounding team, whipped Kansas on the glass, 44-33. It helped that KSU had 20 offensive rebounds.
- Kansas is 25-4 in its last 29 games in Manhattan.
- Up next for Kansas: another road game, this one against Texas Tech, on Saturday at 1:00.