Kansas' recent sluggish play looked as though it was going to continue early in the game against Texas in Allen Fieldhouse Saturday. Texas led nearly the entire first half after scoring on their first possession, and at one point led by as many as 12. Kansas would battle all the way back at one point, but slipped again as the first half came to a close and went into the locker room down 35-30.
Fortunately, the Jayhawks dug deep and found something in the second half, erasing the deficit and making it a neck-and-neck battle until close to the 12 minute mark, when Perry Ellis gave Kansas their first lead of the game with a nice finish under the basket. It was off the races at that point, with Kansas quickly pushing the lead to as much as 13. Texas wouldn't fade away and kept battling back to within single digits, and a Conner Lammert three (his fifth of the game) cut it to seven with about a minute and a half to go. A frightening moment came shortly afterward as Frank Mason got mauled going up for a layup (not surprisingly, he was not given a foul call), and stayed down with what appeared to be a wrist injury. Play was not stopped, and Texas took advantage by quickly taking it down the court for a layup to pull within five. Mason did return to the lineup, so we'll have to see if it ends up being a problem going forward. Texas was unable to cut it any closer, and the Jayhawks walked away with a 9 point win.
It's hard to say just what to take away from this game. The first half looked like more of the same poor play we'd seen since the Oklahoma win. It was great to see them punch the gas in the second half and build up a lead, but a bit disappointing that they couldn't fully put Texas away until the very end in Lawrence. Perry Ellis had a fantastic performance, scoring 26 on 15 shots. Mason's offensive struggles continued, going just 3-14 from the field, but did grab 8 rebounds and would end up with 13 after some late free throws. Selden used volume shooting to amass 19 points, but did find his 3 point stroke, hitting 4 of 8 attempts.
One more thing that bears noting is that Kansas, considered to be easily the deepest team in the league, used just three bench players today. Greene, Traylor and Bragg combined for a total of 29 bench minutes, and collectively contributed just four points (though Traylor did some nice things down the stretch). Cheick Diallo did not play for the first time since being ruled eligible, perhaps a message to the young player who was pulled in Kansas' loss to Oklahoma State after some blatant offensive mistakes. Also noticeably absent were Hunter Mickelson and Svi Mykhailuk. Whatever the reason for the short bench, the starters were able to pull out a victory after a shaky start, but it remains to be seen how all these minutes played by the starters (Mason, Ellis, Selden and Graham all played at least 35 today) will have an effort on their energy level as the Big 12 season grinds on.