634759772
(Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)

Josh Jackson’s monster game leads No. 3 Kansas past Texas Tech

Leave a comment

Freshman Josh Jackson took over after senior Frank Mason fouled out as No. 3 Kansas held off Texas Tech, 80-79, for a Big 12 road win.

Jackson took an isolation and was fouled with 2.8 seconds left, making the game-winning free throw and finishing with a career-high 31 points. The freshman also added 12 rebounds and four assists, going 12-for-15 from the field.

Jackson took over the game down the stretch and willed Kansas to a road win when Mason only played 26 minutes and was held to 12 points. It was the type of performance that could be talked about on draft night because Jackson put together one of the most complete efforts we’re going to see all season. He looked completely in rhythm offensively and didn’t force anything as he was ruthlessly efficient and calm throughout a tense game.

Even after Mason fouled out, Jackson took over and scored multiple buckets and that has to give head coach Bill Self a lot of confidence this late in the season. It means that Kansas doesn’t need to rely solely on Mason to help win close games and it appears Jackson could be turning a corner heading into a monster final stretch.

This type of game is the reason many ranked Jackson near No. 1 in this loaded Class of 2016. He was that good on Saturday.

Landen Lucas also added 13 points and four rebounds for the Jayhawks while LaGerald Vick gave some solid minutes of the bench to finish with nine points. Vick played more crunch-time minutes as a defensive presence and he could also be counted on more down the stretch in close games if he plays like this.

The win also keeps Kansas (22-3, 10-2) in first place in the Big 12 standings after Baylor won earlier in the day over TCU.

Texas Tech (16-9, 4-8) went with the Iowa State approach of having three players have big games but the ultimately fell short against the Jayhawks. Keenan Evans (25 points), Niem Stevenson (22 points) and Zach Smith (21 points) all had solid outings for the Red Raiders but the rest of the roster only contributed 11 points. You do get the feeling, however, that Kansas might have been in trouble if this game went to overtime but Texas Tech never got that chance.

This was a crucial opportunity for Texas Tech to land a signature win over a top-five opponent but they fell short. Head coach Chris Beard will have to get his team together for another win that could put them in the tournament. The Red Raiders certainly looked like a NCAA tournament team and that was including off-nights from much of the roster besides the three 20-point scorers.

Texas Tech has back-to-back games against Baylor and West Virginia after this, so they’ll get more shots to win big games to help their postseason status.

No. 3 Kansas survives at Kansas State

LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 28:  Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks dribbles the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the game against at Rupp Arena on January 28, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Coming off of a home loss against Iowa State over the weekend, No. 3 Kansas responded with a close 74-71 road win at rival Kansas State on Monday night.

After the Big 12 went through chaos over the weekend with the Jayhawks, Baylor and West Virginia all losing, Kansas took the first step in figuring things out at the top of the conference race by winning ugly.

It wasn’t the best performance from Kansas (21-3, 9-2) on Monday but they were still able to get it done. Senior guard Frank Mason led the Jayhawks with 21 points while Josh Jackson added 18 points despite battling foul trouble. The Jayhawks looked exhausted and continued to make more unforced turnovers than normal but they got a bit of a boost from the return of forward Carlton Bragg (suspension) as they earned a solid win.

Kansas State (16-8, 5-6) couldn’t follow up the win over Baylor with another top-three win as they fell just short of really making its NCAA tournament case a strong one. Forward Dean Wade led a balanced scoring effort with 20 points as the Wildcats did a great job of pounding the offensive glass — finishing with 20 offensive boards.

Improving its offensive efficiency from shooting 38 percent is important but head coach Bruce Weber has to feel good that his team just went toe-to-toe with two potential No. 1 seeds (Baylor and Kansas) and went 1-and-1 with a one-possession loss. Kansas State gets another crack at a top-15 team in conference play with a road game at West Virginia for its next game.

Iowa State comes back to shock No. 3 Kansas in overtime

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 04: Darrell Bowie #10, left, of the Iowa State Cyclones and teammate Monte Morris #11 try to keep the ball away from Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk #10 of the Kansas Jayhawks on February 4, 2017 at Allen Field House in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Iowa State fought back from a 15-point deficit to force overtime and shocked Kansas with a 92-89 Big 12 road win at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. Svi Mykhailiuk missed the potential game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer as the Big 12 race grew a lot more interesting with a loss for the Jayhawks.

The Cyclones (14-8, 6-4) were able to get back in this one thanks to three 20-point scorers as Deonte Burton (29 points), Monte Morris (25 points) and Naz Mitrou-Long (22 points) all got hot. Those three helped the Cyclones hit 18 three-pointers — setting a new school record — as the Jayhawks lost for only the 10th time in Allen Fieldhouse under Bill Self.

This win is humongous for Iowa State because it’s a signature victory for its NCAA tournament campaign. Iowa State was 0-5 against RPI top-25 teams and 2-7 against top-50 teams. Beating Kansas is a huge win, especially since it came on the road and snapped such a huge winning streak.

Now the Cyclones don’t have to worry about facing Kansas again in conference play and they only have one game each with Baylor and West Virginia. That gives Iowa State a chance to add more wins and improve its seeding as we get closer to March.

The Cyclones at one point went 14 minutes without a rebound in the first half and could have easily rolled over. Instead they fought back and hit shots in one of the toughest environments in college basketball. A senior-laden team is supposed to do that sort of thing and this comeback is the mark of a veteran team who isn’t scared to fight.

Iowa State still needs to improve on the glass and get more stops on defense but they have the scoring pop to make big comebacks like this and Morris continues to be one of college basketball’s best big-game players.

The Jayhawks (20-3, 9-2) had a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes on Saturday as they squandered this opportunity for a win. Kansas had 21 turnovers and they missed a couple of key late free throws that could have really helped at the end of both regulation and overtime.

To lose this one even as senior guard Frank Mason continued his Player of the Year campaign is tough. Mason went for 32 points as he was 8-for-11 from the field and 10-for-12 from the free-throw line but it wasn’t enough for a depleted Kansas team. It should be noted that Mason started 8-for-8 from the field but he missed the potential game-winner in regulation and went scoreless in overtime.

Mykhailiuk finished with 17 points while Josh Jackson (15 points) and Devonte Graham (11 points) both finished in double-figures.

Kansas is now tied with Baylor in the loss column in the Big 12, but the Bears find themselves in trouble against Kansas State in the second half in a conference game on Saturday afternoon.

Iowa State is the only team to beat Bill Self twice at Allen Fieldhouse as this was the first home loss for Kansas since losing to San Diego State during the 2013-14 season. It snapped a 54-game winning streak for Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse.

No. 2 Kansas utilizes mismatches to outlast Iowa State

AMES, IA - JANUARY 16: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks battles for the ball with Monte Morris #11 of the Iowa State Cyclones, and Matt Thomas #21 of the Iowa State Cyclones in the first half of play at Hilton Coliseum on January 16, 2017 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Kansas used its size advantage to pound the glass as the Jayhawks outlasted Iowa State for a 76-72 Big 12 road win on Monday.

Using only a seven-man rotation once again, Kansas (17-1, 6-0) used its size advantage on the interior and on the wings to crush the Cyclones on the boards as they outrebounded Iowa State 41-22. With a huge advantage on the interior, Kansas focused on working the ball inside-out as they shot 54 percent from the floor.

Kansas did a great job of finding mismatches on the offensive end and had a balanced scoring effort as all seven players scored between 16 and six points. Senior Frank Mason paced the Jayhawks with 16 points and chipped in six rebounds while Landen Lucas (14 points), Svi Mykhailiuk (13 points) and Carlton Bragg (10 points) all finished in double figures.

Iowa State (11-6, 3-3) was able to hang with Kansas for the entire game but they just couldn’t get over the hump every time they would cut the lead to around four points. The Cyclones tried to use a little bit of Hilton Magic to make a late charge, as Monte Morris (23 points) made two free throws to cut the Kansas lead to three with under 20 seconds left but it ultimately wasn’t enough.

With Iowa State lacking the size to matchup with Kansas, the Cyclone offense had a lot of one-and-done possessions since they had no offensive rebounders that were a threat. The Kansas perimeter defense limited Iowa State to a lot of contested jumpers as the Cyclones shot 33.3 percent (9-for-27) three-point shooting. Deonte Burton added 21 points for Iowa State while Naz Mitrou-Long added 18 points.

It’s never easy to win at Iowa State, so the Jayhawks will certainly take this win and be happy with it as they just seem to have a huge matchup advantage against the Cyclones this season.

No. 2 Kansas survives scare from Oklahoma State

LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 14:  Jeffrey Carroll #30 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys shoots as Landen Lucas #33 of the Kansas Jayhawks defends during the game at Allen Fieldhouse on January 14, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Despite poor perimeter shooting and a sluggish first-half effort, No. 2 Kansas was able to survive a scare from Oklahoma State in an 87-80 home Big 12 win on Saturday afternoon.

The Jayhawks (16-1, 5-0) trailed, 40-36, at the break and only shot 25 percent (5-for-20) from three-point range but they rallied thanks to strong outings from its perimeter group. Senior Frank Mason paced the Jayhawks in scoring with 22 points and freshman Josh Jackson played one of his most complete games this season as he finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Devonte Graham (21 points) and Svi Mykhailiuk (14 points) were the other two double-figure scorers for the Jayhawks on Saturday — as the team used only seven players.

Oklahoma State (10-7, 0-5) did an admirable job of staying in this game, especially when you consider that Phil Forte and Jawun Evans combined to go 9-for-32 from the field. Jeffrey Carroll picked up the slack for the struggling Cowboy backcourt as he finished with 23 points while forward Mitchell Soloman added 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting. Evans finished with 15 points for the afternoon while Forte added 10.

Kansas winning this game on an off-shooting night is a good sign of things to come but it’s also something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. If the Jayhawks are forced to continue to play with a limited rotation of only seven players, that could mean some tired legs and some bad shooting nights that this team might be forced to overcome during the rest of the season. Even if Kansas doesn’t have the best shooting game, the trio of Mason, Graham and Jackson can still do so many other things and senior center Landen Lucas is also coming on strong at the start of Big 12 play.

Things aren’t looking so good for Oklahoma State now that they’ve fallen to 0-5 in the Big 12. At one point this season, it looked like the Cowboys might be in position for a potential NCAA tournament run but those hopes have been dashed after this recent stretch. The best win for the Cowboys this season came on the road at Wichita State as the 2-1 stretch at the Maui Invitational with wins over UConn and Georgetown no longer means much of anything.

Kansas lands Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 27: Bill Self head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks claps for his team as they celebrate winning the Big 12 Conference Championship after they defeated Texas Tech Red Raiders 67-58 at Allen Fieldhouse on February 27, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. With the win, Kansas clinched its 12th straight conference championship. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Kansas continues to do well with transfers for next season as the Jayhawks landed a commitment from Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe on Saturday, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-6 Cunliffe is a former four-star prospect who left the Sun Devils after 10 games into his freshman season to explore new options. Cunliffe averaged 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 34 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three-point range.

Cunliffe will have to sit out the rest of this season and the first semester of next season but the Jayhawks getting Cunliffe and former Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman should give them some quality reinforcements for next season. Newman can help offset the loss of Frank Mason while Cunliffe can help fill some minutes on the wing if Josh Jackson leaves.