University of Kansas

Landen Lucas says close-knit Jayhawks will be focused for Kentucky

KU senior Landen Lucas previews Kentucky game

KU senior center Landen Lucas talked Thursday about the Jayhawks game against Kentucky on Saturday.
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KU senior center Landen Lucas talked Thursday about the Jayhawks game against Kentucky on Saturday.

Kansas senior forward Landen Lucas believes off-the-court distractions will have no effect on the Jayhawks’ play on the court Saturday at Kentucky.

“We are very close as a team and if anything, (it has) brought us closer together,” Lucas said of the team’s reaction to reports of alleged crimes in McCarthy Hall, which houses the KU men’s basketball team and other male students.

“We know we’ve got to be close going into a tough environment. We are looking at everything to just bring us together, just move on and really get focused for Kentucky,” Lucas added.

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The No. 2-ranked Jayhawks (18-2, 7-1 Big 12), who had their 18-game winning streak snapped by West Virginia on Tuesday in Morgantown, W.Va., meet the No. 4-ranked Wildcats (17-3, 7-1 SEC) at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.

The game will be part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge and a rematch of last year’s game — KU’s 90-84 overtime victory on Jan. 30 at Allen Fieldhouse.

“I think it might be even bigger this year just because of the records and rankings of the two teams,” Lucas said. Last year’s game matched a No. 4-ranked KU team that had a 15-4 record against a No. 20 Kentucky team with a 16-3 mark.

“We are both in the same kind of situation coming off a loss wanting to rebound. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a big game and definitely fun for everybody to compete in,” Lucas added.

Kansas City Star sports writers Jesse Newell and Gary Bedore previewed Saturday's matchup between Kansas and Kentucky during a Facebook Live broadcast on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.

Kentucky and KU are the two winningest programs in college basketball history with 2,222 and 2,204 victories, respectively.

“They are on TV a lot. Whenever you turn on ESPN and stuff we get a chance to see them. It’s fun,” Lucas said. “It’s Kentucky. It’s a big-name school, a big matchup. I’m sure in the next couple days I’ll get a little more detailed breakdown especially guys I might be guarding and going against. I’m excited for it, learning more about them.”

The 6-10, 250-pound Lucas figures to be matched against Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, a 6-10, 260-pound freshman forward who averages 13.5 points and 6.9 boards.

“He’s a great player,” said Lucas, who averages 7.3 points and 8.0 rebounds overall — 9.5 points and 11.3 boards in Big 12 games. “He is physically … people compare him to Dwight Howard, so clearly he looks the part. He’s been playing well. I saw he was scoring a lot last game (21 vs. Tennessee). It’s fun. I enjoy those challenges. I always seem to play better and be more focused and enjoy playing against guys who are the same size and bigger and a good talent — all those things that he is hyped up to be right now. I definitely look forward to going against him.”

Lucas said he’s just now getting over a cold that plagued him the past two games.

“For me I need to get back into shape I was a couple games ago,” he said, noting KU’s seven rotation players should be able to handle a lot of minutes in such a big game. “I think with the way it works and all the TV time outs and different things going on throughout a game, you can get through it. It’s not as big a factor as it seems to be. More than anything would be foul trouble, make sure to stay out of foul trouble,” Lucas added.

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Calipari wary of KU’s veteran guards

Kentucky coach John Calipari commented about the KU-UK matchup Thursday on (Andy) Katz’s Korner on ESPN.

“The game we’ve got coming up will be a hard game for us to win,” Calipari said. “They’ve got veteran guards. Their freshman (Josh Jackson) when he can go and do his thing … those kids are really steady and they are making shots.”

Dotson to visit KU on Feb. 4

Devon Dotson, a 6-1 junior guard from Providence Day High in Charlotte, N.C., who is ranked no. 34 in the recruiting Class of 2018 according to Rivals.com, will make an unofficial visit to KU for the KU-Iowa State game on Feb. 4, according to Rivals.com.

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