Ellis, Oubre send No. 12 Jayhawks to win over Texas Tech
Kansas coach Bill Self made a deal with Devonte’ Graham: Prove in practice that he was ready to go after a nagging toe injury and the freshman guard would play against Texas Tech.
"I guess I practiced pretty good," Graham said. "Let me play."
Graham returned after for the first time in a month to provide a lift to the No. 12 Jayhawks, pitching in six assists and six rebounds in an 86-54 victory over the Red Raiders.
"He’s dead tired. His conditioning isn’t there at all, but it will be in a week," Self said. "But you can tell, at least I can, regardless of if he’s scoring or not, we’re a totally different team … doing some things we don’t do nearly as well when he’s not with us."
Perry Ellis broke out of a shooting slump by scoring a game-high 15 points for Kansas. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 14, Cliff Alexander had 12 and Frank Mason III 10 to help the Jayhawks (13-2, 2-0 Big 12) improve to 15-0 against the Red Raiders (10-6, 0-3) at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas has won 16 straight overall at the Phog.
Justin Jamison had a career-high 12 points off the bench for the Red Raiders, who have lost five of their last six after a 9-1 start. The last three of those games, which began league play, have been to teams ranked in the Top 25 in Texas, West Virginia and the Jayhawks.
"We just weren’t able to execute," Texas Tech forward Zach Smith said.
Saturday’s game was basically over by halftime. And it wasn’t always pretty.
Texas Tech’s woebegone offense managed two field goals in the first 15-plus minutes, and finished with five by the break. The teams combined for 16 turnovers, including three straight by the Red Raiders during one insufferable stretch. The officials called 26 fouls, parading the teams to the free-throw line 32 times over the first 20 minutes.
Relying on its frenzied man-to-man defense, Kansas forged a 10-point lead midway through the first half, then stretched the advantage to 38-17 with about 4 minutes to go.
Thanks to the abundance of fouls, eleven players took the floor in the first half for the Jayhawks. Among them was Graham, who had not played since the Georgetown game on Dec. 10 because of his severe turf toe. Moments after checking in, he lobbed a perfect pass to Alexander that his fellow freshman flushed for an alley-oop jam.
Perhaps inspired by the play, Wayne Selden hit Alexander for another alley-oop dunk.
"They’re a very talented team," Red Raiders coach Tubby Smith said, poring quietly over the final box score. "Most talented team we’ve played so far."
Free throws kept a miserable half for Texas Tech from being downright embarrassing.
The Red Raiders were 12 of 19 from the foul line — good numbers for a full game, let alone 20 minutes. That included a series of free throws in the final few minutes, when backup Landen Lucas went on a fouling binge that drew Self’s wrath.
There wasn’t much for him to be upset with after that.
Kansas scored the first 11 points of the second half, hitting five of its first six shots — one of them a reverse jam by Oubre — and cruised the rest of the way.
"Everybody played well," Self said. "The starters were good, but I thought our bench was solid, too. I thought everybody played well."
The Red Raiders played without Alex Foster, who has a concussion, and fellow forward Justin Gray, who has tendinitis. Smith said that Gray, a freshman averaging 7.1 points, will be shut down for at least a week. "See how it goes," he said.
Ellis went 3 for 3 from beyond the arc. The junior forward had been just 5 for 19 on 3s this season. "Just keep shooting and you’ll get through it," Ellis said.
Texas Tech: Leading scorer Devaugntah Williams was held to three points on 1-for-6 shooting. … The Red Raiders have not beaten a Top 15 team on the road since 2007.
Kansas: Mason has been in double-figures scoring in 12 straight games. … Christian Garrett, a senior, scored his first career points in the final minutes. … Graham had six assists.
Texas Tech: Heads down Interstate 70 to play Kansas State on Wednesday night.
Kansas: Welcomes Oklahoma State to Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.