No. 1 Kansas Weathers Cold Start to Defeat Texas Tech, 69-59
LUBBOCK, Texas– Perry Ellis and Frank Mason III each registered double-doubles as No. 1 Kansas won its 13th consecutive game with a 69-59 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday night at United Supermarkets Arena.
Top-ranked Kansas (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) opened its Big 12 road schedule by shooting 29 percent in the first half, but corrected its slow start with an improved 58 percent shooting percentage in the second half. KU ended the night shooting 14-of-16 at the free throw line and winning the rebounding battle, 42-26.
Mason scored 17 points and was perfect at the free throw line (8-for-8) with 10 rebounds in 31 minutes to reach his first career double-double. Ellis scored 15 points with 10 rebounds in 31 minutes for his second consecutive double-double.
Texas Tech (11-3, 1-2), much-improved after last season’s last-place conference finish, was led by 14 points from Norense Odiase. The Red Raiders pressured KU for seven steals, but made just 9 of 19 at the free throw line.
The Red Raiders kept pace with the Jayhawks in the first half thanks to Toddrick Gotcher’s eight points and early KU foul trouble which sent Landen Lucas and starter Hunter Mickelson to the bench with two fouls just five minutes into the contest.
Gotcher hit a 3-pointer at the 7:38 mark of the first half to cut the Kansas lead to three. Texas Tech’s Zach Smith followed with a put-back on the next trip down the floor to slice the Jayhawks’ margin to one. Texas Tech forced nine Kansas turnovers in the first half but the Red Raiders turned the takeaways into just four points.
The Jayhawks went into halftime with a 29-27 lead – the fewest points scored for KU when holding a halftime lead this season.
The second half was full of runs. Between the 15-minute and 5-minute marks Kansas and Texas Tech traded runs of 9-0 (TTU), 8-0 (KU), 6-0 (TTU), and 5-0 (KU) before Kansas took a 57-50 lead with 5:03 remaining.
Wayne Selden Jr., nailed his first 3-pointer of the night to give KU a 61-54 lead with 3:20 remaining. On the ensuing Texas Tech possession Ellis blocked a shot by Devon Thomas and flushed a dunk on the offensive end to give KU a nine-point lead, 63-54, with 1:40 remaining.
Mason and Devonte’ Graham put the game on ice for the Jayhawks by making 4-of-4 free throw attempts in the final minute.
The top-ranked Jayhawks travel to Morgantown, West Virginia, to face the 17th-ranked Mountaineers on Tuesday night (6 p.m. CT, ESPN2) in a tilt for sole possession of first-place in the Big 12 standings.
KU STARTERS (SEASON/CAREER STARTS):
Jr. G Frank Mason III (15/54)
So. G Devonte’ Graham (13/13)
Jr. G Wayne Selden Jr. (15/86)
Sr. F Perry Ellis (15/86)
Sr. F Hunter Mickelson (8/33)
• Kansas improved to 30-4 in the series with Texas Tech, dating back to 1959. Kansas has won the last 13 meetings, and have defeated the Red Raiders in 21 of the last 24 contests. Kansas improved to 20-4 against Texas Tech in Big 12 Conference regular-season play.
• Made Kansas 14-1 and extended the Jayhawks’ win streak to 13 games, the longest since the 2012-13 squad won 18 straight.
• Gave KU its 13th straight win over Texas Tech.
• Improved KU to 2-0 in true road games this season and 6-1 in games not played in Allen Fieldhouse.
• Moved Kansas head coach Bill Self to 366-79 while at KU and 573-184 all-time.
• Improved the Jayhawks to 2,167-832 all-time.
• KU’s 29-27 lead at the half became the first time KU has led at the half this season when scoring under 30 points.
• Junior guard Frank Mason III (17 points, 10 rebounds) and senior forward Perry Ellis (15 points, 10 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles, marking the first time two Jayhawks recorded a double-double in the same game since March 7, 2015 against Oklahoma, when Landen Lucas (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Kelly Oubre (12 points, 10 rebounds) reached double-figures in points and rebounds.
• Kansas shot 87.5 percent at the free throw line (14-for-16). The Jayhawks have shot 75 percent or better at the charity stripe for six consecutive games. Kansas made 7-of-8 free throws in both the first and second half against Texas Tech.
• Neither team scored points in transition (fast-break).
• Eleven of KU’s 14 victories this season have been by scoring margins of 10 points or more (+10 tonight). KU’s 10-point final scoring margin tied largest lead of the game, which also occurred at the 16:21 mark of the second half.
• With 69 points tonight, Kansas did not reach at least 70 points for the first time this season. The Jayhawks entered Saturday with the nation’s second-ranked scoring offense, averaging 89.9 points per game.
• The Voice of the Jayhawks, Bob Davis, received a basketball and a pair of boots prior to the game from Texas Tech Athletics to commemorate the play-by-play legend’s last visit to Lubbock before retiring at the end of the season.
Senior F Perry Ellis
• Scored 15 points with 10 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double and 14th of his career.
• Went 1-for-1 from 3-point range. Has made a 3-pointer in five consecutive games (7-of-10 from beyond the arc in the last five games).
• Has four double-figure scoring efforts in four career starts against the Red Raiders. Averaging 14.3 points in the last four games against Texas Tech.
• Now has 1,397 career points, remaining in 24th-place on KU’s all-time scoring list.
• 715 career rebounds, remaining in 16th-place on KU’s all-time rebounding list.
Junior G Frank Mason III
• Scored a game-high 17 points with 10 rebounds for his his first double-double of the season and second of his career. Mason also dished out a game-high five assists.
• Went 8-for-8 at the free throw line, becoming the fifth time a Jayhawk this season to be perfect at the free throw line with at least six attempts.
On if tonight’s game was what he expected:
“I expected it to be a close game. I thought both teams played better in the first half than what the stats showed. We missed a lot of open looks, and they missed free throws. Second half, there was a little more rhythm. We knew it would be a tough game. We said all along that it was going to come down to the last few possessions, and it certainly did.”
On Norense Odiase’s performance for Texas Tech:
“I actually think that we did a decent job with him on the block. He probably scored two or three baskets on the block. Where he hurt us was from 17-feet. We had on tape that he could make a shot if you give him space, but a couple of those shots were well defended by our scouting report. We didn’t do as good a job on him, but fortunately we did a really good job on Zach Smith.”
On his team’s execution against Texas Tech’s zone:
“It’s one of those things. They haven’t thrown one so we come down and by the time we realize it there’s 20 left (on the shot clock). We don’t do anything to attack it. Then, we just ran our little last second zone play, and it was perfect execution. Wayne [Seldon Jr.] hadn’t made a three-point shot the whole game. That was just perfect execution to step up and make that. Landen [Lucas] set a perfect screen. That was a big possession. We made some timely shots even though we didn’t shoot the ball extremely well.”
On if he feels his team has a leg up on the Big 12 and if it’s the toughest the league has ever been:
“It sets a tone for the toughest it’s ever been. I think everybody would say that. We didn’t get a leg up. West Virginia got a leg up because they won two road games, and we’ve only won one. It’s too early to be talking about leg ups. It’s way too early because there’s going to be the unexpected that’s going to happen for everybody. I think that we got a great win here tonight in a place that I think Tech is going to win a lot of games. I feel good that we had a good week, but we don’t have two road wins like West Virginia does.”
On the difficulty of playing in the United Supermarkets Arena:
“Last year, we actually broke it open late. We’ve had a couple of years where we’ve played well. Two years ago, we’re down one on the last possession, and (Andrew) Wiggins has to get a tip in if I’m not mistaken or we lose that game. I think Darryl Dora, I still get twitches when I think about it. He made that long three to beat us in our first year down here. It’s never a pretty game from my vantage point when we play here, but fortunately we’ve been able to eke out some wins. I think the way Tubby coaches, the way that his team tries and the way they’ve improved – I think that they make it hard to beat them here.”
Senior F Perry Ellis
On if tonight’s win was as important as Monday’s game versus Oklahoma:
“Yeah, definitely. It’s always tough games down here, and we fought to the end. So, it was a great feeling to get that road win.”
On the difficulty of playing at Texas Tech:
“They’re a good team. Definitely give them credit, they played very well. We just fought and came out with it.”
On the toughness of the Big 12 this year:
“It’s always tough every game you go play on the road. They give you their best shot, and you have to take it game-by-game.”
Junior G Frank Mason III
On what Texas Tech did to slow down the pace of tonight’s game:
“I think they did a good job of executing their sets. Getting the ball inside to number 32 [Norense Odiase], he did a good of setting and just going right up.”
On his motivation to play better on the offensive end:
“Not really, I wanted to come out and make sure my teammates were great offensively. I wanted to get them wide open shots so they can get going. That’s what I try to come out and do. We had a couple of guys with open looks that they knocked down. They usually knock them down. I just try to come out and be aggressive and take good shots and then get my teammates good shots.”
On the team’s extra energy to make plays at the end of games:
“The end of the game is when it matters the most. You have to be mentally strong and focused to lock in and get the job done.”
On if there was any lingering fatigue from Monday’s game with Oklahoma:
“Not really, not for me. I don’t think any of the guys were still nicked up from the last game or anything. But a day or two after the game, we were all still pretty sore. We just got in the ice tub and things like that to get our body back going, but I think as of now everyone is ready for Tuesday.”
On how Coach Self’s message before tonight’s game:
“He said he knew it would be a tough game after that OU game last Monday, but he was just happy we got the job done. We executed down the stretch. He was just happy with the way we executed towards the end of the game.”
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