University of Kansas

Landen Lucas steps up for KU in 89-72 win over Nebraska

KU's Landen Lucas defended against Nebraska’s Tai Webster during the first half of Saturday’s game at Allen Fieldhouse. KU beat Nebraska 89-72.
KU's Landen Lucas defended against Nebraska’s Tai Webster during the first half of Saturday’s game at Allen Fieldhouse. KU beat Nebraska 89-72. rsugg@kcstar.com

Kansas senior forward Landen Lucas, who has worn a protective boot on his right foot since Nov. 9, when the Jayhawks embarked on a walking tour of a U.S. Navy destroyer in Honolulu, left the cumbersome accessory in his McCarthy Hall closet Saturday afternoon.

“I kind of made that executive decision on my own. We’ll see how it goes over with ’Chedd,’ ” Lucas said of KU basketball trainer Bill “Cheddar” Cowgill, who has monitored Lucas’ recovery from a sore foot, which at one point showed signs of a possible stress fracture.

“I was just feeling good today. I was mentally, ‘I don’t want to keep walking to the game in a boot then switching to court shoes.’ So today I didn’t do it. Maybe it’s time to throw that thing away and play,” Lucas added after erupting for a season-high 12 points and tying a season high with seven rebounds in the Jayhawks’ 89-72 victory over Nebraska at Allen Fieldhouse.

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It was Lucas’ best game since the opener against Indiana in Hawaii, in which he had 11 points and seven boards.

“Mentally I felt good about everything,” Lucas said. “My body felt good. Going into the game I definitely felt better than most of the other ones. I went out there and played free.”

He played 19 minutes, the most since a 21-minute outing against Siena in the third game of the season.

The 6-foot-10 Lucas, who has been frustrated by foul problems (he had just two Saturday), said he was not necessarily trying to step up in the absence of 6-10 forward Carlton Bragg, who was arrested Friday on a charge of misdemeanor battery. Bragg did not suit up for the game but did sit on the bench.

“It’s a team effort. We’ve all got to do it. It’s not one individual that can do it,” Lucas said of filling Bragg’s minutes off the bench. “Everybody has to step up their game, including me. I need to get out of whatever I was in earlier this season. It’s going in the right direction.”

Lucas said coach Bill Self made sure the Jayhawks (9-1) were ready for Nebraska (5-5) of the Big Ten Conference.

“Coach got us focused yesterday in practice because he knew our minds might wander, focus on outside distractions,” Lucas said. “We knew we couldn’t do that against a good team like Nebraska.”

Self said he enjoyed watching a healthy Lucas have his best outing in a while.

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“I thought he played great. He was quick into his moves. He didn’t catch it then hold it, hesitate,” Self said. “Our (bigs) were a combined 9-for-10,” he added of Lucas, Udoka Azubuike (seven points, six boards, four blocks) and Mitch Lightfoot (three points). If you told me before the game we’d get 20 points out of our 5-man, I’d be really happy with that.”

The Jayhawks, who last played Nebraska in 2011 before the Cornhuskers left the Big 12 for the Big Ten, claimed their 18th straight victory against their former conference partners and 27th in 28 games. It was KU’s 13th straight win over Nebraska at Allen Fieldhouse.

It marked a milestone victory — KU’s 750th in fieldhouse history against 109 losses. It also was KU’s 46th straight win in the building that was dedicated in 1955.

“The first half we were really good, really solid. The second half we missed 9 or 10 free throws in a row. That kills all momentum,” Self said.

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His squad hit 59.6 percent of its shots (including 7 of 15 threes) but just 14 of 25 free throws.

“Can’t hit free throws, throw it off the backboard and miss dunks, it was not good,” he added of the second half in which Nebraska outscored KU 38-35 and cut a 23-point deficit to 68-54 at 11:15.

The missed dunk was a play in which Svi Mykhailiuk, who scored 15 points, tossed the ball off the backboard to a trailing Josh Jackson — who had 17 points — who missed the slam.

“I don’t think I got onto them for the play as much as not respecting the game the way they should in that situation,” Self said.

KU had a 68-50 lead at that point. “I don’t think it was the right play in that particular situation,” Self added.

Frank Mason scored 18 points, and Devonté Graham had 14, joining Lucas, Jackson and Mykhailiuk in double figures.

KU, which has entered finals week, will next meet Davidson at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Sprint Center. Davidson, 5-3, lost to North Carolina 83-74 on Wednesday in Chapel Hill, N.C. Davidson does not play again until Saturday in KC.

Husker coach jokes about video

Nebraska coach Tim Miles said he paid attention to a movie clip on the center videoboard before player introductions that poked some fun at the state of Nebraska.

“That’s a pretty cool opening. I liked the jab at Nebraska, the little cowboy movie thing. It was funny … for Kansas folks,” Miles said with a smile. “I’ve got to defend us, right? I thought it was a great environment.”

Miles had a lighthearted exchange with Self prior to the start of the second half.

“He was complaining a second. I was, ‘What do they have to complain about?’ He’s out there (complaining),” Miles said with a laugh. “C’mon, what do you have to complain about (up 54-34 at half)? Nothing. This is your home Bill, sorry.’ The cheerleader left her little pom pom on the floor. C’mon you’ve got it tough,” he added jokingly.

KANSAS 89, NEBRASKA 72

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Nebraska

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

F

Pt

Jacobson

19

1-8

2-2

7

4

4

McVeigh

7

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Morrow

24

7-10

2-2

7

1

16

Watson

29

2-6

0-0

4

5

5

Webster

36

9-20

3-3

2

1

22

Gill

22

2-6

2-2

1

0

7

Taylor

19

3-6

2-2

1

0

8

Tshimanga

19

3-7

4-7

8

4

10

Roby

13

0-4

0-0

3

0

0

Fuller

7

0-1

0-0

1

2

0

Horne

5

0-1

0-0

1

0

0

Totals

200

27-69

15-18

35

17

72

Percentages: FG .391, FT .833. Three-Point Goals: 3-7, .429 (Watson 1-1, Gill 1-2, Webster 1-2, Horne 0-1, Jacobson 0-1). Team Rebounds: 0. Team Turnovers: 12 (0 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Tshimanga 2, Roby). Turnovers: 12 (Jacobson 3, Watson 3, Webster 3, Horne, Morrow, Tshimanga). Steals: 8 (Watson 2, Gill, Jacobson, McVeigh, Taylor, Tshimanga, Webster). Technical Fouls: None.

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Kansas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

F

Pt

Azubuike

16

3-4

1-4

6

4

7

Graham

34

6-11

0-0

3

2

14

Jackson

35

7-12

3-8

6

3

17

Mason

38

5-9

6-8

4

3

18

Vick

25

1-2

0-0

1

3

3

Mykhailiuk

27

6-11

1-2

2

1

15

Lucas

19

5-5

2-2

7

2

12

Lightfoot

5

1-1

1-1

0

1

3

Self

1

0-1

0-0

1

0

0

Coleby

1

0-1

0-0

1

0

0

Totals

200

34-57

14-25

31

19

89

Percentages: FG .596, FT .560. Three-Point Goals: 7-15, .467 (Graham 2-4, Mason 2-4, Mykhailiuk 2-4, Vick 1-1, Jackson 0-2). Team Rebounds: 5. Team Turnovers: 13 (0 PTS). Blocked Shots: 12 (Jackson 5, Azubuike 4, Lucas, Mykhailiuk, Vick). Turnovers: 13 (Jackson 4, Azubuike 2, Graham 2, Lucas 2, Coleby, Lightfoot, Vick). Steals: 8 (Jackson 2, Lucas 2, Mykhailiuk 2, Graham, Mason). Technical Fouls: None.

Half: Kansas 54-34. Att: 16,300.

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