LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas coach Bill Self spent this week bemoaning his team’s defense after shootout wins over TCU and Kansas State, even calling it the worst he’s seen since he arrived in Lawrence.
That was precisely what Chris Beard didn’t want to hear.
“I would have much rather Kansas played better,” the first-year Texas Tech coach said, “but I know Coach Self and I could just imagine what their practices have been like the past week.”
The No. 3 Jayhawks answered Self’s challenge by shutting down the Red Raiders. Frank Mason III poured in 26 points and Devonte Graham added 20 as Kansas cruised to an 85-68 victory Saturday night.
“We did a little better defensively, being active,” Graham said. “There was a little sense of urgency. We’ve been watching film of our last two games and seeing how we weren’t giving as much effort as we should have been giving. That’s what we’ve been working on in practice.”
Josh Jackson had 17 points and Mason sparked a 12-0 run that turned a five-point game into a rout, allowing the Jayhawks to remain perfect in 17 tries against Texas Tech at home.
Kansas (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) also pushed its home winning streak to a nation-leading 51 games.
“The key defensively, you can talk about whatever your philosophy is or whatnot – it makes no difference in the big picture. You can’t give up easy baskets,” Self explained. “That’s what we have to get to; we can’t give up layups.”
Aaron Ross and Zach Smith had 17 points each for the Red Raiders (12-3, 1-2), who lost their 15th straight to the Jayhawks overall. Keenan Evans scored 16.
“Once they got on their run,” Evans said, “there was no looking back.”
Still, Texas Tech gave Kansas a tussle until a frustrating final minute of the first half.
It was 30-27 and the Red Raiders had the ball when Jackson picked off a pass and took it coast-to-coast for a dunk. Then, Mason intercepted a pass and went the other way, only to get fouled on the way to the rim. A pushing match ensued and Anthony Livingston was called for a technical foul.
By the time Mason made three of four foul shots, and Landen Lucas scored at the buzzer, a five-point trip down the floor had given the Jayhawks a 37-27 advantage at the break.
Texas Tech, one of the best perimeter shooting teams in the league, tried to fight its way back by hitting just about everything from beyond the arc in the second half.
Kansas countered with a parade of free throws.
It was two foul shots by Mason with the Jayhawks leading 60-55 and eight minutes to go that started the game-deciding 12-0 run. Mason added another basket and a 3-pointer, and Lucas flushed an alley-oop dunk, as the Jayhawks coasted from there to program win No. 2,200.
“A lot of teams come into this building and you play with them for 32 minutes and they run you off the floor for eight minutes, and you get on the bus and get a sandwich,” Beard said. “Again, not necessarily what we did bad, but give a good team with a great coach credit.”
WHAT A RUSH
Three-time All-Big 12 guard Brandon Rush will have his jersey retired by the Jayhawks at halftime of their game against TCU on Feb. 22. Rush led the program to three league titles and the 2008 national championship before embarking on an NBA career that included the 2015 crown with Golden State.
Arizona State guard Sam Cunliffe announced Saturday he’ll transfer to Kansas. The former four-star prospect averaged 9.5 points while starting 10 games for the Sun Devils this season. He expects to arrive in Lawrence next week and can be eligible for the second semester next season.
The lack of an inside presence for Texas Tech proved to be the difference. When the Red Raiders went cold from outside the arc in the second half, the Jayhawks kept pounding away in the paint.
Kansas held the Red Raiders to 40.7 percent shooting, forced 14 turnovers and picked up nine steals on defense. The Jayhawks also held the Red Raiders to 11 of 28 from the 3-point line.
Texas Tech hosts Kansas State on Tuesday night.
Kansas visits Oklahoma on Tuesday night.