No. 6 Kansas came into Tuesday night’s game against No. 10 West Virginia in something nearing a must-win scenario if it wanted to keep its Big 12 championship streak alive. After all, if the Jayhawks failed to come through in this one, they would be two games behind the Mountaineers with a road game coming on Saturday against Oklahoma.
But as they have so often under Bill Self, they came through.
The Jayhawks picked up a decisive 75-65 win over the Mountaineers in Phog Allen Fieldhouse. The win pulls them even with the Mountaineers and the Sooners in the Big 12 race at 8-3, one game ahead of Texas, Iowa State and Baylor in the loss column.
Yup, that’s six teams within one game of each other for the league lead. Think it would be fun to coach in the Big-12?
Kansas picked up this win with the help of a pair of standout frontcourt performances. Perry Ellis is about as metronomic and consistent a player as there is in the country, and his game on Tuesday was no different. The model of efficiency, Ellis scored 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including a huge alley-oop and a 3 late that were daggers to the heart of West Virginia’s comeback effort.
Almost equally as big as Ellis though was his partner in the frontcourt Landen Lucas. Lucas went stride for stride with the Mountaineers’ physical frontline and put up nine points and 16 rebounds. He never allowed the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the country to establish itself, collecting 12 boards on the defensive glass to eliminate second-chance opportunities for a team that thrives on them. A pretty massive, unsung performance from one of the Jayhawks’ maligned centers.
The win sets up that aforementioned game against Oklahoma, a rematch of the classic in Allen Fieldhouse earlier this season that saw the Jayhawks win in triple overtime. The winner of the league could very well be decided in this matchup, so be prepared for one of the more high-intensity games that we’ve seen this season on Saturday.