The Kansas Jayhawks stuck to the game plan, avoided the turnover bug that hit them in Morgantown, and got its revenge on West Virginia Tuesday night.
Perry Ellis led the way with 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting, and Landen Lucas had the game of his career with 9 points and 16 rebounds.
Against a team which prides itself on rebounding, Lucas’ effort on the glass on both ends of the floor may have been the reason why the Jayhawks were able to control the game throughout the 40 minutes and keep the Mountaineers at bay.
In its loss to WVU on the road, Kansas struggled to inbound the ball against press defense and was never able to get into any type of offensive flow.
Bill Self’s message and game plan of how to break the press and initiate offense was executed almost to perfection and it clearly frustrated the Mountaineers from the outset.
Frank Mason III had his best game in several weeks, scoring 14 points while grabbing 5 rebounds. His ability to get the ball moving against a strong defense and keep his teammates in the right place was key in taking down WVU.
Self once again played with his big man rotation in the first half before settling in with Ellis, Lucas, and Jamari Traylor.
Freshman Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg continue to see limited minutes, mainly because of inconsistent play in situations where Kansas can’t afford wasted possessions and lack-luster defense. With the conference as tough as it has been in years, Self is forced to focus on the players with the most experience, and not necessarily with the most talent or highest ceilings.
At this point in the season, every game is as important as the next. Following West Virginia, the Jayhawks will have to travel to Oklahoma to take on the No. 3-ranked Sooners. With the Big 12 title on the line, KU has found itself firmly in the hunt, tied for first place with OU. With the Jayhawks, Sooners, and Mountaineers all facing equally difficult tests to finish out the conference slate, it may take until the final weekend of play to determine the champion and whether or not Kansas will bring home a 12th straight crown.