Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Nick Collison, Joel Embiid Praise Landen Lucas Following KU's Win over No. 16 Baylor ; Jayhawks: Embiid Impressed with Sophomore

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Nick Collison, Joel Embiid Praise Landen Lucas Following KU's Win over No. 16 Baylor ; Jayhawks: Embiid Impressed with Sophomore

Article excerpt

LAWRENCE -- Just before the Oklahoma City Thunder started their training camp this season, Nick Collison made a stop in Lawrence to work out with Kansas' players.

At the time, he knew almost nothing about 6-foot-9 center Landen Lucas -- though that changed quickly.

"I was impressed with him," the 11-year NBA pro Collison said. "He's got legitimate size, he's got nice touch and he's figuring out how to play."

Never was that more evident than the second half Saturday, as the sophomore Lucas helped carry No. 8 KU during a late run in a 74-64 victory over 16th-ranked Baylor.

After playing just two minutes in the first half, Lucas was in during the most important stretch late, helping turn a one-point second-half deficit into a 10-point lead with less than a minute remaining.

From behind KU's bench, Collison saw a player that was smart and had a good feel for the game. Against Baylor's zone defenses, Lucas always seemed to know where to be on the floor and where the ball should go once he received it.

"Coach knows what he's doing. He's going to find time for those guys," Collison said. "I think he's a guy that will get more and more of an opportunity."

The productive second half should help.

After halftime, Lucas scored seven points on 2-for-3 shooting, added 3-of-3 free-throw shooting and also grabbed three rebounds in 12 minutes.

It was enough to wow another former Jayhawk sitting behind KU's bench: Lucas' former teammate and current Philadelphia 76er Joel Embiid.

"Obviously, his game changed," Embiid said. "I would just say that I loved his patience in the post and just loved seeing him on the court, because last year, he didn't really get the minutes.

"This year, he's getting the minutes and he's doing what he has to do to help the team win."

That included a crucial 15-second stretch with four minutes left.

With KU leading by two, Lucas didn't hesitate in shooting up a 15- foot jumper from the baseline that rattled around before falling through. …

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