Kansas Jayhawks: Is Landen Lucas Ready to Step Up [Video]


The Kansas Jayhawks don’t know how long they will be without their freshman power forward Cliff Alexander due to an NCAA eligibility issue.

It’s bad news for a team already lacking a true rim protector.

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Enter Landen Lucas.

The sophomore power forward from Portland has provided sparks off the bench since last year, but with Alexander out for possibly the rest of the season, we could see Lucas start to play a key role for the Jayhawks down the stretch.

If Saturday was any indication, it could be good news for the Crimson and Blue.

In a career-high 25 minutes, Lucas scored a modest five points and grabbed four rebounds, but was efficient while on the court.

He made 2-of-4 shots (both dunks), but more importantly did not turn the ball over once.

His second basket was huge, as he was the oop to Wayne Selden’s alley at the 1:47 mark to give the Jayhawks some breathing room at 66-61.

It was not only a nice dunk, but also impressive that Lucas led everyone down the floor after the missed shot on the other end.

It’s the kind of hustle head coach Bill Self likes to see, and made note of it.

"“Our bench wasn’t effective tonight with the exception of Landen Lucas,” he told reporters after the game."

The interesting thing of note is that it was Jamari Traylor, not Lucas, who got the start over Alexander. However, Traylor logged just 11 minutes and failed to score a point.

Self has made it clear that starting, or playing well the previous game, have nothing to do with how he feels at any given moment.

Alexander has been continually yanked from games, and saw less than 15 minutes numerous times despite being in the starting lineup.

If he likes how a player is matching-up, hustling, or playing defense, Self will go with that particular one.

And that is what he did with Lucas Saturday.

This doesn’t mean he will be in the starting lineup Tuesday, but if Alexander is out you can be sure Lucas will play more than his 12.2-minute average.

Lucas isn’t going to average a double-double, or block shots like Joel Embiid or Jeff Withey.

He doesn’t have to either.

All he has to do is play efficient, play smart, and be a good teammate, and his production will come. He checked off all three during the game, and thanked the fans after it was over.

There should be little pressure on Lucas because this was not supposed to be his time to shine just yet. It was obvious in his flashes of great play the past two seasons he is capable of big things, it just wasn’t supposed to happen this year.

Now, the opportunity is in front of him and he’s giving no reason for the Jayhawk faithful to doubt him.

Kansas is just one victory away from clinching an 11th straight Big 12 Conference title, and the Jayhawks have done it with multiple starting lineups, and a seemingly different MVP each game (although Perry Ellis may have something to say about that).

A conference tournament title could be on the horizon, and the goal of going deep in to the NCAA Tournament would be next.

Lucas just might be a key piece of the puzzle toward making that happen.

Next: Kansas Jayhawks: Naming the All-Bill Self KU Teams

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