Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Tom Keegan: The biggest games bring out the best in Josh Jackson

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) gets in for a shot past Baylor forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. (0) during the first half, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33).

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) gets in for a shot past Baylor forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. (0) during the first half, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33).


Back-to-back games against top-five teams, one in enemy territory with more than 24,000 rooting against him, the other in the building that supplies college basketball’s most outrageous home-court advantage.

Time for Josh Jackson to show the nation how much he loves to play basketball, how much he loves to win.

As Kentucky on Saturday and Baylor on Wednesday night can attest, he was more than up to the challenge.

Jackson dropped 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead Kansas past Baylor, 73-68, after dropping 20 and 10 on Kentucky.

The better the competition, the more rapidly Jackson improves his game. It’s why he came to Kansas, to take on all comers, to compete and to win.

“Steel sharpens steel,” Jackson said. “I don’t feel like you would get better if you were playing against a bunch of guys who don’t really want to compete or want to win. It’s even harder being Kansas because everyone just wants to beat you so bad.”

Even with Kansas splashed across his chest and a No. 1 Rivals ranking on his shoulders, Jackson can take comfort in knowing he’s never going to face anyone who wants to beat him worse than he wants to win.

Veteran guards Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham play huge parts in Kansas knowing how to win close games and so does Jackson, a freshman in name only. They make Kansas such a clutch team.

“Our will to win is what makes them clutch," Jackson said. “This group of guys, everybody on the team, the thing that comes first is just winning. We get it in tight, we come together and we all just do what we have to do to help each other win the game.”

Jackson carried the team in the first half with 46 percent of the points (13) and 44 percent of the rebounds (seven) and made a huge play that broke a tie with 2:26 left and sent Kansas on its way.

He pump-faked a 3-pointer from the right corner and drove it in for a two-handed slam that put KU up, 66-64.

“I had made a three a couple of possessions before and I figured if I up-faked the guy would jump and Landen (Lucas) helped really tremendously, sealing the other big on the baseline so he couldn’t come and contest my shot, so it was an easy bucket.”

Kansas led the rest of the way and coach Bill Self called it a “big, big basket, maybe the biggest basket in the game.”

It came from the most talented player on the floor.

“He’s a great, great player,” Self said. “I think he’s been great all year long, but I really think he’s even more comfortable now that what he has been. He’s shooting the ball better. He made 2 of 4 shots from three tonight. That makes him 10 for his last 18 from three.”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self talks about 73-68 win over Baylor, defense in final minutes

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self discussed his team's 73-68 win over Baylor on Wednesday, KU's defense down the stretch and finishing 2-1 against three straight ranked opponents.

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The stats confirm the accuracy of the quote.

“I feel like part of the reason my shot has gotten a little better, I’m not thinking about it much and just playing basketball,” Jackson said.

He has made zoning Kansas tough because of how well he passes from the middle of it. This was his first experience against a zone that covered so much space, so he adjusted.

“Normally when I get the ball in there those guys are looking to pass out,” Jackson said. “But those guys were so long and they were just fanned out on the wings. They just left me open in the middle and I did a pretty decent job of attacking the basket, but I feel like I could have done a little bit better at attacking the zone.”

And he probably will be next time he faces it because he’s smart enough to adapt.

“He’s beyond his years. He’s a freshman but he’s not really a freshman,” Self said. “A lot of these kids who come out now, they’re really further along than what you think because of all the experiences they’ve had, USA Basketball, playing for gold medals and things like that. Everything that he does is not a surprise to me. We’ve gotten to the point where we expect it and we’d be disappointed if we did not.”

By the Numbers: Kansas 73, Baylor 68

By the Numbers: Kansas 73, Baylor 68

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

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Baylor


Joe Ross 1 year ago

We need to make sure all the guys have flu shots. We cant afford to lose anybody.

Jim Woodward 1 year ago

Mason is the best player in the country, Jackson is the best player on the team! JLW

Jay Scott 1 year ago

Still think Jackson is a PG at the NBA level?

Marius Rowlanski 1 year ago

He has played just about every position this year but I don't see him playing the point in the NBA.

Jerry Walker 1 year ago

"and Landen (Lucas) helped really tremendously, sealing the other big on the baseline so he couldn’t come and contest my shot, so it was an easy bucket.”

That's a huge and many times unnoticed reason why the players told Coach Self that they play better with big Luke in the lineup.

Mike Greer 1 year ago

I wanted to comment on this as well. There were two things in that quote that diagram the success of that play. One, Josh has started hitting the 3s, so now you have to guard him as if he's going to attempt a shot, so the fake works and works well now, where as prior to the past few games, you probably didn't have to guard that shot. The second was the recognition Josh gave his teammate Landen. Not only did Landen do his job well in sealing off the other defender, something perhaps some of the younger bigs might not recognize, but Josh noticed and showed his appreciation. And that just spells TEAM player!

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 year ago

“Steel sharpens steel,” Jackson said. “I don’t feel like you would get better if you were playing against a bunch of guys who don’t really want to compete or want to win. It’s even harder being Kansas because everyone just wants to beat you so bad.” - What a great quote!

Armen Kurdian 1 year ago

Yeah, this guy's a OAD, but in his case, he's going to be a PTP'r from the moment he gets to the show. Nice to see Wiggins & Embiid becoming stars in their own right, and JJ will be yet another.

Any thoughts if FMIII will get a shot in the NBA?

Severeno Woods 1 year ago

I hope he get his shot in the NBA (Mason), because I feel like he can be a solid roll player off the bench in the NBA at the point.

Jonathan Allison 1 year ago

Mason is constrantly underestimated. It would be a mistake if he doesn't at least get a shot in the NBA.

That said, I would be very surprised if he is drafted, but I am certain that he will sign a summer league deal and have a chance to showcase himself. Whether or not he makes an NBA roster depends on how he performs in summer. I would not be surprised if he earns a fall camp invite, but based on the success of other former hawks I would be a little surprised to see him on an NBA bench in Nov. In a perfect situation he could make it. I'm looking at Kay Felder of the Cavs. They are a team stacked with max contracts and needing to fill out their roster with minimum contract players. But there are very few perfect situations available.

Shannon Gustafson 1 year ago

Fortunately for him, Summer league games favor PG's because everyone is there to look their best and the PG has the ball in his hands nearly every possession so he doesn't have to worry about other players hogging the ball. He controls how much he shoots, and how much others touch the ball. Perry had the opposite problem, other players wouldn't give up the ball.

Tony Bandle 1 year ago

I thought I heard the announcers mention that a top ranked recruit was in the stands for this great game. Did anyone catch who it was? Was it Trae Young?? Thanks.

RJ King 1 year ago

Yes. And during one of KU's exciting plays at the end, Duval was absorbed in his phone. Of course he might have been tweeting about the game, but he didn't look very engaged.

Marius Rowlanski 1 year ago

I've been trying to find info on Duval's visit. He picked a great game. Everyone has him marked as going to Duke but maybe his visit will change his mind.

Bill McGovern 1 year ago

I remember Landen made a huge basket late in the game as well. He gets so much flak but at the end of the day he is a big contributor on the floor.

Joe Joseph 1 year ago

Arguably the two most important plays of the game came from Lucas:

The contested shot he made with somewhere around 90 seconds remaining that you referenced (that I think put KU up 5). And when he raced down the floor to contest Baylor's last shot attempt.

He also made what was one of the worst plays of the game when he attempted a 14-foot jump shot from the baseline with just a couple of minutes remaining. I've grown to really appreciate Landen, but he should never take jump shots.

Marius Rowlanski 1 year ago

Got to forgive him for the jumpshot after altering the three-point attempt by Baylor late in the game.

Bryce Landon 1 year ago

I am not a big fan of one-and-dones; I'd like to see the NBA change the rules to require its players to have a college degree to be a member of their league. But I'm glad we have Josh Jackson while we can; no one-and-done that has come through here has his head on as straight as this guy. I don't know if his game is better than any previous one-and-done; but he has the best attitude, best work ethic, and best team-first mindset of any one-and-done to don the Crimson and Blue.

Jay Scott 1 year ago

No possible way for the NBA to force that legally. Imagine telling a 20 year old Carlos Santana, Al Pacino or Bill Gates that they couldn't ply their trade without a degree.

Marius Rowlanski 1 year ago

What about European and other players from around the world? I'd like to see it go to 2 years after high school graduation but I don't see that happening. Not when MLB signs players directly out of high school.

Harlan Hobbs 1 year ago

On the selfish (no pun intended) side, I agree Bryce. However, that is never going to happen. The truly great players like Josh Jackson are not going to be denied their opportunity at the brass ring until they are 22 years of age.

As Coach says, these OAD's are so much more prepared for the next level earlier than ever before, and in Josh's case, he is not only a tremendous talent, but he wise beyond his years. I marvel at his ability, but I even more proud of him as a solid and loyal team member. I give most of the credit for that to his mother, Apples.

Even though he is a OAD, I expect Josh to give 110% to help this team reach its goals until the final shot of the season is taken. He may have an off night, but it won't be due to a lack of effort or enthusiasm. In short, when you put all of his attributes together, he is the best freshman in the country in my opinion.

Lastly, the accolades for all of the players are certainly well deserved. However, they obviously feed off of their leaders and mentors, Coach Self and his staff. The relationships between coaches and players are outstanding, and the strategic genius of the coaches cannot be overstated. As the saying goes, "The cream usually rises to the top", and boy do we have a lot of "cream" in the basketball program. None better! Rock Chalk!

Tony Bandle 1 year ago

Something that no one has mentioned but Coleby and Lightfoot both had moments that were key to helping us win besides giving Landon a break. Coleby was a force around the boards if nothing else making the Baylor Bigs work to get their rebounds and Lightfoot made that great pick and roll basket as well as a nice shot block.

Speaking of Lightfoot, with two more off seasons with the Queen of Pain, I think by his junior year he is going to be one heck of a player for KU!

Marius Rowlanski 1 year ago

Maybe he might get another inch or 2 in height but he really needs to put on weight. Lucas came to Kansas as a project player not even ranked in the rivals top 150 and I would say it worked out pretty well.

Some of the comments made after Lucas committed are pretty funny:

Clarence Haynes 1 year ago

These investigations are troubling! Coaches need to ratchet up discipline!

Marius Rowlanski 1 year ago

Also hiring some precognitives may be a good idea.

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