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Friday, December 30, 2016

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Landen Lucas stepped up when Jayhawks needed him most

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) pulls a rebound away from TCU forward JD Miller (15) during the second half, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) pulls a rebound away from TCU forward JD Miller (15) during the second half, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

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— Leave it to a senior in a time of need to deliver in a time of need. One such time arrived Friday night in Schollmaier Arena for Kansas center Landen Lucas.

Freshman center Udoka Azubuike is out for the season after undergoing wrist surgery. Josh Jackson, the team’s leading rebounder heading into the night, had his quietest game as a Jayhawk and fouled out in 12 minutes of action.

The four-guard lineup that Kansas employed for all but six minutes of the by its very nature leaves the Jayhawks vulnerable on the boards and to excessive easy buckets at the rim. Jackson’s limited minutes left Lucas with less help than usual defensively and, except when Bragg was on the floor with him, on the boards.

The Jayhawks desperately needed a big night from Lucas and he gave it to them offensively and on the boards with 15 points and 17 rebounds. He didn’t get whistled for his third foul until the 5:25 mark, by which time he needed a breather anyway.

Lucas’ opposite number, TCU center Vlad Brodziansky, scored a career-high 28 points and had nine rebounds, so it wasn’t a perfect night for Lucas. Even so, Kansas doesn’t win if Lucas plays the way he did when slowed by a sore foot early in the season.

"Landen was really good on the glass,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. "His man got 28 and he’s a defensive stopper, although they were not all on him, not all his fault. Certainly we didn’t do a good job on our ball-screen defense at all. Landen probably had his best game he's had this year without question, but I think Landen would be first to tell you, you go on the road and your mindset's not to be tough and get stops, you’re very fortunate when you get a ‘W' and that was the case with us.”

Self credited TCU with doing a good job screening, which forced Lucas to provide help and left smaller players guarding Brodziansky at times

Lucas kept his effort at a high level despite playing 30 minutes. He has gone onto the court with a healthier body in recent games than early in the season and the symbolic start to a new season gave him a chance to trigger the mental refresh button as well.

“Coming into this game there was a lot of talk about how good a rebounding team they were so I emphasized getting on the glass,” Lucas said. "I’ve always taken pride in that, and this year I got off to a poor start rebounding, so with a fresh season and the Big 12 coming around, I wanted to get back to what I do well.”

He succeeded by setting a career-high in rebounding and playing a huge part in Kansas extending its winning streak to 12 games on what generally wasn't one of the team's better performances.

By the Numbers: Kansas 86, TCU 80.

By the Numbers: Kansas 86, TCU 80.

— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. TCU


Comments

Brett McCabe 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It was an inspired, cheer-worthy performance by Landen. Really happy for him.

Mike Tackett 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Willing to bet 60% of Vlad's points came on dump offs after somebody else got beat. To say it wasn't all on LL is an understatement. He was a man last night.

Mike Riches 11 months, 2 weeks ago

One of the commentators mentioned Coach Self was not happy with the team's preparation for this game. If that's true, then it showed up in our perimeter defense which was less than stellar. I expect it will improve greatly over the next two games.

I remember a couple years ago when we were at TCU...it was the game where their arena was under construction, so they played in like a community center...it was pretty cool, it felt like a high school game. But as cool as the environment, the game was not cool, we walked out of there with a three point win. That night felt ugly...last night, not so much. TCU is a decent team with a good coach, and we won because guys like Vick and Lucas stepped up. Svi had some great shots as well, and of course Mason was Mason.

Bryce Landon 11 months, 2 weeks ago

If Landen plays at least the way he did last night, it will help negate the loss of Udoka through the rest of the season and going into March (and hopefully April).

Barry Weiss 11 months, 2 weeks ago

As coach points out, our ball screen defense was horrible, certainly in the first half. Viad was a beast that Landon and the rest of the team certainly could not stop. It was similar to Reid Travis in the Stanford game who scored 29 on our bigs. Hope we don't run into many more of those.

Mike Greer 11 months, 2 weeks ago

If Landen plays the way he did last night, expectations on playing time will return, in part ar least, to where they were going into the season. Carlton played much better as well, although he missed some easy shots inside. It was another odd game with Josh spending so much time on the bench, other guys really stepped up.

Tough, but great start to the Big XII season!

Robert Brock 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Vlad probably will not score more than 15 points in a game from here on out. That KU couldn't handle him is telling.

Jay Scott 11 months, 2 weeks ago

He's already scored more than 15 three times.....he averages 12 and shoots .576 from the floor........

Andy Godwin 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Not to tell one of the greatest how to coach but at times it may be prudent to considering mixing in a zone now and then when the opposing guards are driving at will and the oppenent is out scoring you in the paint. I know it is not manly, but there are some pretty good and maybe more balanced teams in the Big XII (West Virginia and Baylor both looked pretty good in their road games) that could dominant the paint against KU. Congratulations to Lucas. As stated, he came up big on the boards and helped the guards score with his screens and showed some offense moves which had been absence until this game. Here is hoping Landen can force the opponent to guard the entire floor the rest of the way.

Harlan Hobbs 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Certainly, Landen and Frank were the Players of the Game. However, Carlton had some good moments, as did Svi. Finally, Devonte didn't have his best game, but he contributed some leadership and key plays.

I will point to perhaps the "unsung" hero of the game, and that is Coach Self. He crafted three dunks off of 3 inbound plays that turned out to be crucial. Also, the free throw shooting was stellar, and undoubtedly they have been stressing that as pivotal in a close game.

Dirk Medema 11 months, 2 weeks ago

FT's was a matter of the right people shooting. Except for 1 or 2 games, Frank in particular has been doing that all season.

Harlan Hobbs 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Sorry! I forgot Lagerald, who had a very good offensive game.

Dirk Medema 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Landen is starting to play the way he was expected to play, and even a bit better than last year. It was good to see positive progress from Carlton as well.

What we really need is for Dwight to step up and start being a reliable 3rd big. Mitch has some ability, and might not make many mistakes, which is big for Coach, but he in no way has the size/ability to contain virtually any Big12 bigs.

Rick Golden 11 months, 2 weeks ago

We have struggled guarding bigs all year but Lucas came up big tonite with his rebounds and scoring

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