Last weekend, the Jayhawks blew a huge second-half lead and lost at home to Iowa State. With the league race tightening, KU entered “Rivalry Week” with two road games. Neither one was pretty, but by a total of four points, the Jayhawks escaped with two victories to hold first place in the Big 12.
Josh Jackson scored 31 points, a career-high, and the Jayhawks needed every last one of them. His 31st point was the go-ahead free throw with 2.8 seconds left, which ultimately gave No. 3 Kansas an 80-79 win against Texas Tech.
It seems like KU never plays well in Lubbock, but the Jayhawks have now won 16 straight games against the Red Raiders.
Despite shooting a reasonably poor percentage from the floor, the Jayhawks controlled the first half, taking a 42-35 lead into halftime. They stretched their lead out to as many as 11 in the second half, but things fell apart when Frank Mason left the game with 10:10 left. He picked up his fourth foul with KU leading 59-54. By the time he checked back in less than four minutes later, the Jayhawks were trailing after being on the wrong end of a 24-12 run.
Mason made a few plays before fouling out with 3:05 left. At that point, the Jayhawks were leading 75-72, and Josh Jackson took over to help KU survive by the tip of its fingernails.
Jackson’s 31 points came on 12-for-15 shooting, which ties the second-most baskets any KU player has made in the last 10 years. He also had 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double in the last five games. On a day when Mason (12 points, fewest since November 29) was off, possibly because of an illness, the rapidly-ascending freshman picked a fine time for the best game of his career.
The teams traded baskets over the last 10 minutes. Several different ties occurred down the stretch, including 75-all, 77-all, and 79-all. Texas Tech’s Aaron Ross had a great look with an open three-pointer with 21 seconds left, but he missed it, allowing KU to hold until the last shot. Jackson drove to the hole and was fouled with 2.8 seconds left, and after making his second free throw, KU survived a halfcourt heave to escape with a victory.
Jackson scored the last five points of the game for the Jayhawks.
Defensively, the Jayhawks did not have their finest day. Texas Tech’s 79 points are a season-high in league play, and the Red Raiders shot 48% from the floor. But ultimately, Kansas made one single more play than Texas Tech, and that was the difference in a 2-0 road week and a very disappointing 1-1 one.
- KU is 22-3 overall and 10-2 in league play. They’re holding firm on that 1-seed spot in the Midwest Region.
- Josh Jackson: 31 points (12/15 FG), 11 rebounds and four assists. He sat down for about 30 seconds all game, which officially counts as 40 minutes. He was masterful. Even his free throw shooting (5/7) was good for his standards.
- Frank Mason: 12 points (4/13 FG) and five rebounds, but 0 assists in 26 minutes. Considering what he had been playing, 26 minutes is next to nothing for him. It was good to see him get some rest, because he looks completely exhausted.
- Devonte’ Graham: just six points (2/8 FG), but he did have six assists. He hasn’t made a two-point basket in a week. Yikes.
- Landen Lucas: 13 points and five rebounds. Once again, when he was out, KU was a completely different team.
- Svi Mykhailiuk: nine points (3/8 3pt)…but let’s talk about that defense.
- Carlton Bragg: two points and two boards, but he continues to not get much work in the second half of games.
- Lagerald Vick played quite a bit, as he scored seven points.
- KU: 49% from the floor, 40% on threes, and 63% at the line. Just barely enough.
- Tech: 48%, 30%, and 71%.
- The Red Raiders out-rebounded the Jayhawks, 38-32, including 14-11 on the offensive glass.
- Up next for Kansas: Big Monday comes to Lawrence on Monday when the Jayhawks host No. 13 West Virginia. Buckle up.