His shooting form made headlines well before Josh Jackson ever suited up for the Kansas men’s basketball team.
But on Saturday, during a 79-67 victory over Texas that featured a fast start followed by an all-out street fight, Jackson’s jumper was good enough to help lead the Jayhawks to victory.
“Probably his two biggest shots today were the threes he hit,” UT coach Shaka Smart said of KU’s freshman force who finished with 15 points but shot just 6-of-14 from the floor. “You’ve gotta try to take away something and we didn’t want him to be able to score in the paint. But he really made us pay with those two threes, one in the first half and one in the second half, and they were at kind of critical junctures in the game.”
View a gallery of images from Saturday's game between the Jayhawks and Longhorns at Allen Fieldhouse.
Despite the rough shooting day, Jackson said he owed his confidence to take those shots to his teammates.
“The more I’m open, the more I’m gonna let the ball go. I’m gonna shoot it,” he said. “The biggest thing coach and my teammates tell me is when I’m open, just shoot it.”
In addition to firing his way to 15 points, Jackson tallied five rebounds and four steals but also added six turnovers. That mixed bag of production left KU coach Bill Self looking for better days ahead from the KU freshman.
“I didn’t think Josh had a good game today, by his standards,” Self said. “It was a game where he could’ve had 25 real easy. He tried to make great plays when great plays aren’t there.... He didn’t play poorly but I didn’t think he played quite as well and I thought he was pretty careless with the ball.”
With Texas’ big front line wearing down the Jayhawks midway through the first half, Self turned to freshman Mitch Lightfoot for a four-minute spurt and wound up getting more than he expected.
Lightfoot, who had not played in KU’s last two games and stepped on the floor for just four minutes in the Jayhawks’ last six games, finished 1-for-1 from the floor with two points, two rebounds and a vote of confidence from his head coach.
“I thought it was great,” Self said of Lightfoot’s lone basket off of a missed layup by Frank Mason III. “That’s as good of an offensive tip-in as we’ve had all year — left-handed, across his body. That was great. I thought Mitch did well. I haven’t got him in and he deserves to play more than he has. But it was nice to see him have some success when he got out there."
Senior forward Landen Lucas battled two foes on Saturday afternoon — the Texas Longhorns and an illness.
Despite playing sick, Lucas still managed to pull down a team-high 14 rebounds while playing eight minutes more than his season average of 23.1.
“He didn’t feel good, guys,” Self said. “He’s medicated, he’s got all the stuff and I thought he showed us quite a bit by being out there and playing 31 minutes. He was good in that regard. He does a lot of things to help us win even if it doesn’t show up in points.”
Mason’s knee OK
In his first game action since tweaking his right knee in a win at Iowa State, KU senior Frank Mason III showed no ill effects of the injury on Saturday.
“I think it’s getting better,” Mason said after the game. “It felt better on the court today. It didn’t hurt at all. I didn’t take any hits or anything like that. So hopefully that can keep happening and moving forward I can still get treatment.”
In just his second game as a head coach inside Allen Fieldhouse, UT coach Shaka Smart showed a clear understanding and appreciation for the history and tradition associated with Kansas basketball.
He also revealed that he had come up with a name for Lawrence, Kansas, on KU basketball game days.
“This is my second time being here and both times have been on a weekend,” Smart began. “And it’s kind of like the twilight zone because it feels like there is nothing else going on here besides the game. Everyone is locked in on the game. That’s a testament to the program and Coach Self and what they’ve built over the years.”
This and that...
KU now leads the all-time series with Texas, 28-8, including a 15-1 record in Lawrence and 13-1 mark inside Allen Fieldhouse.... The Jayhawks are now 18-1 for the sixth time in the Bill Self era and first time since the 2012-13 season.... KU’s current 18-game winning streak ties for the second longest under Self.... KU’s 14 steals marked a season high.... Mason’s 17 points moved him into 20th place on KU’s all-time scoring list with 1,514 points.
— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.