No. 6 Kansas Withstands Press of No. 10 West Virginia, 75-65
LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 6 Kansas moved into a three-way tie for first-place in the Big 12 standings with a 75-65 win over West Virginia on Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse – KU’s 37th-straight victory on its home court.
Junior forward Landen Lucas grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds and senior forward Perry Ellis poured in a game-high 21 points to lead the Jayhawks to their 20th win of the season. Guards Frank Mason III (14 points), Wayne Selden Jr. (11), and Brannen Greene (10) added double-figure scoring efforts for the Jayhawks.
Kansas (20-4, 8-3 Big 12) shot 56 percent from the field and never trailed – leading by as much as 14 points with two minutes remaining – to even the season series against the Mountaineers (19-5, 8-3). The Jayhawks made its first eight free throws and finished the night, 22 of 27 from the charity stripe.
West Virginia’s Devin Williams and Jaysean Paige each scored 14 points.
“We did a good job and competed so hard,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “Landen was fabulous – 16 rebounds, four blocks – and he guarded a really good player too. I’m really proud of our guys and it sets up a really, really big game on Saturday. I certainly hope it is another classic against Oklahoma.”
Kansas and West Virginia join a current three-way tie for first in the Big 12 standings with No. 3 Oklahoma. KU faces the Sooners on Saturday (1:30 p.m. CT, ESPN) for its second top-10 matchup of the week.
WVU came with their usual brand of constant press on Tuesday night and Kansas met the challenge head-on by pushing the ball up the court for 10 fast-break points to WVU’s zero transition points. Kansas also outworked WVU on the boards to a 33 to 28 advantage, behind the efforts of Lucas, becoming just the fifth team to outrebound the Mountaineers this season.
When the Jayhawks lost to West Virginia, 74-63, on Jan. 12 on the road in Morgantown, the Mountaineers forced a season-high 22 KU turnovers with 12 steals.
Kansas countered WVU’s pressure on Tuesday by pushing the tempo in the first half as Lucas had seven rebounds by halftime and finished a fast-break assist from Graham with a posterizing alley-oop dunk.
Kansas built a 36-24 lead by the closing minutes of the first half, but WVU went on a quick 5-0 run including a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 36-29 Kansas lead at halftime.
The Jayhawks used a 13-2 run early in the second half to take a 53-40 lead. The Mountaineers forced turnovers on four straight possessions and gradually trimmed the lead to 54-50 with nearly eight minutes remaining.
A pivotal point came moments later, when Tarik Phillip was fouled while driving to the basket. He whipped an elbow that clipped Mason in the chin and was assessed a flagrant foul. After Phillip air-balled his free throw opportunity, Mason made one at the other end to start another Kansas run.
Ellis finished it off with a 3-pointer that made it 70-58 with 3:21 to go.
The Jayhawks controlled the tempo for the final minutes of the game to improve to 4-0 against WVU in Allen Fieldhouse.
KU STARTERS (SEASON/CAREER STARTS):
Jr. G Frank Mason III (24/63)
So. G Devonte’ Graham (23/23)
Jr. G Wayne Selden Jr. (24/95)
Sr. F Perry Ellis (25/95)
Jr. F Landen Lucas (6/20)
• Kansas and West Virginia met for the eighth time, with the Jayhawks now owning a 5-3 series advantage.
• Kansas improved to 4-0 against West Virginia in Allen Fieldhouse.
ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (240th-consecutive sellout)
• Made Kansas 20-4, 8-3 in Big 12 play which moved Kansas into a tie for first with West Virginia in the 2016 Big 12 race.
• Gave Kansas 20 wins for the 27th consecutive season beginning in 1989-90.
• Made the KU-WVU series 5-3 in favor of the Jayhawks, including 4-0 in Allen Fieldhouse.
• Extended Kansas’ win streak in Allen Fieldhouse to 37 games, including 13-0 this season.
• Made KU 741-109 in Allen Fieldhouse, including 203-9 under head coach Bill Self.
• Made Self 372-78 while at Kansas, 579-187 all-time and 5-3 versus West Virginia.
• Made KU 2,173-835 all-time.
• For the second consecutive game there were no lead changes in a Kansas wire-to-wire win. Kansas hasn’t trailed in 102:54 of gameplay, since the waning minutes of the first half against K-State. The Jayhawks led for 37:57 against the Mountaineers, the third-most minutes led by KU in a Big 12 game this season. Kansas’ biggest lead was 14 points with 2:17 to play in the game.
• Kansas didn’t need to throw up too many shots Tuesday, launching its fewest field goals attempts this season (41) and fewest shots since 40 against Baylor in Allen Fieldhouse, Jan. 20, 2014.
• The Jayhawks’ efficiency was evident in shooting percentage as KU shot 56.1 percent from the field for the game, the second-highest mark allowed by defensive-minded West Virginia this season.
• KU out-rebounded the Mountaineers 33-28, only the third time in league play that WVU has been out-rebounded by an opponent.
• The Jayhawks drained five shots in a row – for the second time in the game – near the midpoint of the second half and used a 10-2 run to lead by as many as 13 with 12:26 to play. Kansas’s run was stymied by turnovers as WVU used five turnovers in less than three minutes to bring it back to 54-50 at the under eight media timeout with a 7-1 run of their own.
• Kansas led by as many as 12 points (1:53) in the first half before taking a 36-29 advantage into the break.
• The Jayhawks shot a smoldering 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from the field in the opening period. The mark tied for fourth-best shooting half by the Jayhawks in league play this season, and was the highest percentage shot against WVU in a half during Big 12 play. Overall, it tied for the third-highest shooting percentage allowed by the Mountaineers in a half this season.
• Kansas shot better than 50 percent in both halves Tuesday and has shot 50 percent or better in eight of 22 halves during Big 12 play this season.
• KU used an early streak of five made buckets to turn a 4-4 tie into a 13-4 Kansas lead a little more than five minutes into the game.
• Senior F Perry Ellis scored more than 20 points for the ninth time this season as he led all players with 21. The 21 points tied Ellis’ career-best scoring effort against West Virginia, matching his total scored earlier this year in Morgantown. Ellis passed Kansas greats Calvin Thompson (1,548), Kenny Gregory (1,555) and Jeff Boschee (1,560) while moving into 15th on the all-time scoring chart with 1,563 points.
• Junior F Landen Lucas ripped down a career-best 16 rebounds to lead all players and set a new individual season best for a Kansas player. Lucas’ rebounds were the most by a KU player since Andrew Wiggins grabbed 19 at Iowa State Jan. 13, 2014.
• Lucas also surpassed a career-high and led the floor with four blocked shots.
• Junior G Frank Mason III added 14 points and has reached double figures in all but two contests this season, a total of 22 times. For his career, Mason has scored in double figures in 85.7 percent (54-of-63) of his starts.
• Junior G Brannen Greene knocked down a pair of triples and was 4-for-4 from the free throw line to score 10 points, his highest total in Big 12 play this season. In five games prior against West Virginia, Greene had amassed just seven total points.
• Sophomore G Devonte’ Graham reached double figures for the fourth consecutive game and seventh time in the last eight games with 10 points Tuesday. That tally matched his career-best output against WVU in four meetings.
On Landen Lucas’ contributions:
“If you told me before the game that Landen and (senior forward Perry Ellis) would combine for 17 rebounds, I’d say that would be a heck of an effort. I didn’t think that one of them would get 16 of them though. Landen was the best player in the game. He did a great job on (junior forward Devin Williams). He’s got five blocked shots on the year and he got four tonight, nine points and sixteen rebounds, so he played just fabulous. I know the one possession early in the game where he caught the ball right under the basket and hesitated, and they blocked his shot. Other than that, that’s about the only faux pas he made tonight, I thought he played smart, (followed the) scouting report and was a primary reason why we won.”
On Brannen Greene’s performance:
“He had 10 points and that was good. It’s unbelievable, he makes two threes like it’s nothing and then he’s wide open and he shot an air-ball. I don’t know what the deal was on that one. I thought he played smart and got in there. (Junior guard Wayne Selden) didn’t have his best game obviously and he played through fouls the first half, so we needed BG to bail us out, and he did.”
On Perry Ellis’ consistency:
“Offensively, he’s been terrific. And defensively he played well, he just didn’t rebound like he’s capable of rebounding. He’s one of the more efficient guys. You talk about players that can score a lot of points and not take very many shots and, I don’t know last three games or so, he’s right around 21-23 on maybe 9, 11 or 12 shots and certainly he’s been very efficient and consistent.”
On Perry Ellis’ on-court demeanor:
“I do think that his demeanor is, the highs aren’t too high and the lows aren’t too low. That probably does lead to consistency, that’s a great point, I haven’t thought about that. (Former guard Andrew Wiggins) was the same way and he drove me nuts because I thought he could always do more but, at the end of the day, he knew exactly what he was doing. It’s just highs don’t get too high and lows don’t get too low. I do think Perry could play with more emotion and I think he would be more active and do more good things if he did but he’s been such a rock for us for four years, he’s been stellar. It’s hard to find any fault with the kid that conducts himself like he does.”
On Landen Lucas’ strengths:
“He’s also a good low-post defender. We said all along that certain guys would be better in certain situations. Guarding a heavy guy, there’s no question that he’s by far the best we’ve got in doing that. We didn’t have to trap, we didn’t have to do some things that we may have to do with somebody else. At halftime Landen had seven rebounds, our next leading rebounder had two. He was so valuable tonight.”
On Landen’s performance proving he can be “the guy”:
“We’ve given Landen chances. If you look at it, Landen’s been in late-game situations just about every game that’s been tight for us and we’ve had a few of them. He’s not a prolific scorer. He’s going to be a guy that, given an angle, he will get the easy put-back. He’s a smart player. He’s a good screener. He finished above the rim a couple of times tonight. He’s a good screener who runs the rim. He just does what he does. He’s smart. Defensively, he does a lot of good things.”
Junior G Frank Mason III
On the importance on Lucas’ game:
“Landen was great tonight. He got on the glass, which is what we needed him to do. Coach had talked about that before the game and we all put emphasis on rebounding and crashing the boards. He could have done a little better offensively, he knows that. But we’ll keep giving him confidence, keep giving him the ball and great positioning so he will be better for us moving forward.”
On West Virginia’s 40-minutes of pressure:
“Sometimes they wear you down because they floor deny you the whole time, and sometimes they have two guys on you. They make you work the whole time, so yeah, it’s tiring.”
On Brannen Greene’s game moving forward:
“It’s huge for us, he’s a great shooter. He came in and gave us great energy off of the bench and we will really need that from him moving forward.”
On his frustration after getting elbowed in the face:
“It was just a reaction to the call.”
Senior F Perry Ellis
On improving Kansas’ rebounding efforts compared to last game versus West Virginia:
“That was a key emphasis, everybody had to be aware and we just try to do that.”
On Perry only missing a few shots in the last couple games:
“In practice I just make sure I’m getting a lot of shots and a lot of game shots in. My teammates feed me and I just make sure to attack and follow my shot.”
On feeding the ball to Lucas:
“I see him out there working hard, and you have to reward your teammates. He was open, so I had to give it to him.”
Junior F Landen Lucas
On being back in the Big 12 race:
“Yeah, I feel like we always stay calm about it. We knew that we weren’t too far out of it. We handled our business, which is important, but we know we have a big one coming up on Saturday so we’re going to just get mentally prepared and go out there and go down there to win.”
On what more he can do offensively:
“There are small things. They’re getting me the ball in transition, I just have bad habits of dribbling the ball. That’s a couple baskets right there. Other than that I just need to insert myself more.”
On scoring a few more points in games:
“We know that there are different ways; running the floor, trying to get some lobs and stuff just to get me involved more. The rebounding is what comes naturally, I’ve been doing that since I was a kid. It’s just trying to get my confidence back and insert myself offensively.”
On the emphasis in rebounding in the game:
“That’s something that I always focus on, but today it was a big emphasis because I knew they go to the glass so hard. Defensive rebounding was key tonight, so I tried to assert myself as well as I could and I think I did pretty well.”
On making an impact both offensively and defensively:
“Offensively, I could have done better, but defensively and rebound-wise I just tried to be active. If a shot went up, I challenged it. Coach has been talking to me about challenging shots so I got my hand on a couple of those tonight.”?
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins
On the team’s effort and consistent relentlessness:
“I thought we played really hard in the second half. We didn’t play near as hard the first half. You just can’t miss that many shots and can’t miss that many transition opportunities. We had all kinds of transition opportunities and I don’t think we converted one. We missed some tips and rebound baskets. We didn’t score when we had opportunities.”
On the Jayhawks having answers every time West Virginia would make a run:
“Well, we kind of helped with those answers, didn’t we? When we missed layups, when we went to the free throw line and missed both free throws. I think we probably helped the cause. It wasn’t all them. You have to give us credit for screwing the game up, too.”
On switching his lineup the second half:
“I thought those two guys (junior guard Tarik Phillip and senior guard Jaysean Paige) gave us the best chance to get back in the game. I wasn’t enamored with the play of our two starting guards in the first half. I really wasn’t enamored with one of their efforts. You can’t control when you make shots sometimes, there are a lot of things in our game you can’t control, but you can always control your attitude and your effort.”
On Perry Ellis’s game:
“He’s a great player. I don’t know if his number will get retired. I don’t think there is any room up there, is there? I looked up there today and there’s a lot of people hanging up there. He deserves to be up there. He works hard.”
On having Kansas affect the ‘big picture’ of West Virginia’s season future:
“With all due respect to Kansas, I don’t think anybody in this league sits around and thinks about Kansas all the time. Not when on the horizon you have TCU and Texas and I don’t know who we have after that but I know we have Oklahoma after that sometime and we have Iowa State after that sometime. We have to go to Oklahoma State after that. I mean, do we think about Kansas? Right before we’re about to play them. Other than that, why would you? That’s kind of a waste of the big picture I would think. Let’s get ready to play who we are going to play.”
West Virginia junior F Nathan Adrian
On the overall performance:
“We didn’t play like we should have. They came out and played more physical than we did from the start. They got out to an early lead and we never really recovered from that.”
On winning the Big 12 title:
“We’re still in first. We just have to win the games that we are supposed to.”
On playing on the road versus at home:
“It doesn’t change our game plan. You’ve got to play the same way at home as you do away.”
On his individual performance:
“I could have played better. I missed a couple of balls that I should have had and a couple of loose balls got away.”
West Virginia F Devin Williams
On the Jayhawks shooting 57 percent from the floor:
“They were wide open, we really didn’t get to the ball.”
On West Virginia’s missed opportunities:
“We play in one of the toughest conferences, we just have to be able to put two halves together. They wanted to get this win back more than we wanted to get another win.”
On the difference between Tuesday’s game and the matchup earlier this season:
“We just didn’t play West Virginia ball, that’s it. We barely caused any turnovers I think the first game we forced 22 turnovers and I don’t think we even did one-third of that.”
On the play of Perry Ellis:
“He’s been around a long time. His coach gave him the green light and he was comfortable. He was doing what he does.”
On the three-way tie for first place:
“Pretty much just regroup and push forward, it’s a tough conference but you have to keep playing. We will be alright.”
West Virginia G Jaysean Paige
On the difficult environment:
“They play tough here. They have great fans and a good environment to play in. When they go on runs it is hard to stop them sometimes. The crowd gets in to it and it is just a tough place to play in general. Allen Fieldhouse is a historic place and a tough place to play.”
On he and Tarik Phillip coming out strong in the second half start:
“We felt like some guys were not being aggressive and that’s what you need to do to win games. We made some adjustments to come out in the second half and be more aggressive.”
On the intensity the Jayhawks brought:
“This is a tough place to play. They played a good game. If we played like how we played in the second half it would be a different game. We came out slow and weren’t as aggressive as we usually are.”
On what West Virginia takes from this game:
“Just build on this, keep our heads up and we are still in first place. We just need to pick it up. We have been playing good so just go home and secure a victory.”
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