Josh Jackson has been huddling with the Kansas coaching staff since the start of the season, and the message has been the same: If you quit fouling so much, you would say on the floor more.
The sensational freshman must have finally listened.
Jackson poured in 22 points, many of them on highlight-worthy dunks, while backcourt mates Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham helped carry the load as fifth-ranked Kansas routed Alabama-Birmingham 83-63 on Monday night in the semifinals of the CBE Classic.
"Me committing silly fouls take me out of the game, and don't allow me to play as much as I'd like," said Jackson, who also had seven rebounds and three assists. "It worked out today."
…Kansas looked tired at times from a brutal start to the season. The Jayhawks played Indiana in Hawaii, Duke in New York and Siena at home on Friday night. The grind continues with the CBE Classic title game before another home game against UNC-Asheville on Friday night.
Sure, the No. 5-ranked Kansas basketball team utilized its much discussed four-guard lineup options Monday night at Sprint Center against UAB. Really, though, the Jayhawks leaned on just three of their perimeter players on the first day of the CBE Classic.
Senior Frank Mason III, junior Devonté Graham and freshman Josh Jackson combined to score nearly 70 percent of their team’s points in a 83-63 victory in front of a pro-KU crowd.
The trio of guards combined for 33 of the Jayhawks’ 39 points in the first half and the trend didn’t change all that much down the stretch, as Jackson scored a game-high 22, Mason finished with 20 and Graham added 16.
Sophomore backup wing Svi Mykhailiuk got his three-point shot rolling late in the victory, finishing with 15 points on 4-for-5 shooting from deep.
“We came out with energy. I think everybody’s mind was right. We came in focused trying to do the little things we’ve been watching on film,” said junior guard Devonté Graham. He scored 16 points, dished seven assists and swiped three of KU’s 10 steals.
“It shows how we can defend when we are energized and fresh to start the game,” Self said. His squad didn’t allow a field goal until Chris Cokley hit a running hook shot with 9:59 left in the first half.
Almost all of Jackson’s highlight-reel dunks made his long right arm resemble a slingshot let loose from its highest point, and each was delivered with a purpose not yet seen this season.
“Well, I’ve heard (Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star) Russell Westbrook say, ‘I dunk the ball so hard so nobody challenges me when I go to the basket,’ so that’s what I’m trying to do,” Jackson said.
Only once did a UAB player choose to challenge Jackson’s high-flying act. And all that did was give 6-9 UAB forward Tosin Mehinti an up-close look at Jackson’s Size 14 shoe and another foul in the book.
…“I mean, yeah, I like it when guys dunk,” Self admitted. “But he’s a player. The best play he made of the night was the last pass he made to Svi (Mykhailiuk). He’s going left-handed off a ball screen and throws a left-handed hook pass to a guy wide open. That was the best play he made tonight but it’s not gonna be on SportsCenter.”
…While everyone else appeared to be playing a normal game in the first few minutes, Jackson appeared to be playing a game of “Watch What I Can Do.” But all of it came within the framework of KU’s offense and most of it came in wildly entertaining fashion.
Less than an hour from Allen Fieldhouse, KU still has the 9 p.m. Tuesday CBE Championship, a Dec. 17 matchup with Davidson, the Big 12 Tournament and potential Sweet 16 and Elite Eight contests in Kansas City, if the Jayhawks are seeded in the appropriate region.
Graham said the KU players discussed the significance of the Sprint Center this season. Self, while not acknowledging the still far away postseason implications, did say the team “love(s) coming over here.”
“I think maybe we take that for granted that we know we get a chance to play in this building,” Self said. “I love the building. It wasn’t a great crowd, obviously, a lot of empty seats and hopefully fans come out to see a great game tomorrow.”
NCAA.com: Frank Mason named to NCAA All-Week Team
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The sooner Udoka Azubuike builds up his stamina and learns to play without piling up fouls so quickly, the sooner Kansas can become a team that does more than dominate teams from the perimeter.
Frank Mason III, Devonté Graham and Josh Jackson give the Jayhawks a wildly athletic, aggressive perimeter trio capable of outplaying anyone that any school can throw at them.
As expected, things are not quite coming together as quickly closer to the basket. Azubuike is the one big man with a blend of tremendous potential, which Carlton Bragg has to not quite the same degree, and the strength to mix it up inside, which Landen Lucas brings to the equation.
The more you watch Azubuike plant his 7-foot, 270-pound body near the basket, the more clear it becomes he is the team’s best rebounder and the most impervious to the sort of contact that sometimes throws Bragg off kilter.
A little home goodness the week of Thanksgiving sits well with Mark Fox.
The Georgia basketball coach guided the Bulldogs (3-1) into the championship game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic and will face a tall task Tuesday he actually welcomes.
Although the final-round opponent will be No. 5 Kansas (3-1), Fox will get to play an opponent he is familiar with after growing up in the southwest Kansas town of Garden City. He obtained his master's degree at Kansas, where he frequented practices when Roy Williams was coach. Fox also coached at Kansas State as a young assistant.
"Kansas is the benchmark for great basketball," Fox said. "There's KU and there's UK, and they're both blue, and they're both terrific. But I have the utmost respect for the history and tradition of Kansas basketball because I grew up watching it."
KU leads the all-time series with Georgia, 3-0, with the most recent victory coming at the Great Alaska Shootout in 1999. Georgia coach Mark Fox, however, has tasted success against the Jayhawks during his career.
In December of 2005, Fox led Nevada into Allen Fieldhouse and handed KU coach Bill Self just the third home loss of his career to that point.
Kansas center Landen Lucas has a hideaway down the road in Kansas City at Hollywood Casino. In the offseason and a few times during the season, the fifth-year senior makes the trek to KC to play in Texas Hold’em poker tournaments.
It’s an escape from basketball, and he blends in as much as a 6'10", 250-pound man is able to. Lucas enjoys the process of reading people, and the word from regulars is that he is a solid player and keeps to himself. He once finished third in a tournament and won $2,900.
"I can hold my own," he said. "There’s a level that I don’t cross, and that’s those guys who do it for a living."
Patience and self-awareness are skills that have served Lucas well at the poker table and even better on the basketball floor. He’s stuck it out at Kansas, biding his time as a fringe rotation player and eventually working his way into the starting lineup for one of the top programs in America.
…Lucas had an education of KU’s offense even before Self recruited him. His dad had him study Self’s offense because nobody in college basketball did a better job of teaching big men footwork and how to seal in the post.
"That was back when Cole [Aldrich] was here," Lucas said. "At the time, I had zero intentions and didn’t really know about coming to Kansas, especially because I was from the West Coast. All our mindset was the Arizonas and UCLAs. Kansas was that school in the middle of the country. We were just looking at how well the bigs used their bodies, and that’s where I learned a lot of the stuff, and I was taking it to my game."
Those traits attracted Self to the big man, and he’s developed an even deeper appreciation for Lucas once he became a regular part of the rotation.
…"One thing my dad instilled in me, don’t look at plan Bs because that will just distract from your plan A," Lucas said. "If you’re always worried about what else there is, that takes away from making the thing you’re doing work. I didn’t want to do that. I put all my focus into it and made sure I made the most of it."
When Self approached Lucas about starting, he told him he needed to simply focus on playing defense and rebounding. Then he asked Lucas if he wanted the job.
"Hell yeah," Lucas told him.
Bleacher Report CJ Moore
After another recent scary moment left KU academic advisor Scott “Scooter” Ward hospitalized and trying to recover from heart issues that put him in the hospital in the first place, Self provided an update on Ward’s condition, complete with a bit of humor coming from his Kansas City hospital room.
“Certainly, he’s going through a tough deal,” Self said. “I told people the other day, he texted me. He said, ‘Good gosh, you guys had a 12-point lead, you about gave me a heart attack.’ He’s had two unbelievable things that have happened. We’re very fortunate that he got the attention when he did. He’s had two surgeries (on his aorta) and they had to crack his sternum open both times. He’s going through a tough time right now, but he’s tough as nails and I know he knows he’s loved and we miss him around here.”
The 76ers top draft pick might not play at all this season, but Philly still has a chance to produce its second Rookie of the Year winner in four seasons.
We're just a month into the 2016–17 season, but 76ers center and Instagram legend Joel Embiid is already the runaway favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, the top picks of the 2016 draft class are struggling to establish themselves, let alone challenge the throne for top first-year player.
There was a moment late in the first quarter Saturday -- after Joel Embiid had drained the third effortless 3-pointer from the top of the key, giving him 17 points in his first 11 minutes against the Phoenix Suns -- that he got a little insane, and tried to lead the break, and lost his dribble, and the ball. He then committed a loose ball foul to stop the break now heading the other way, and lay on the floor at Wells Fargo Center, motionless.
There was a pregnant pause from the 18,125 on hand.
Very pregnant pause.
One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.
Embiid stayed motionless, face down, on the floor.
And, dead silence.
Finally, Embiid slapped the floor hard with his hand, and scrambled to his feet -- not injured, just angry with himself, and the blood came back to the crowd’s figurative face. (He would hear later from legendary Philadelphia baller and historian Sonny Hill about getting too cute with the ball and leaving his feet too soon. “Dipper didn’t jump,” Hill cautioned, referencing the late, great Wilt Chamberlain. “He waited for you to jump.”)
But on the floor, Embiid was smiling the whole time.
A Kansas cheerleader has been suspended from the University Spirit Squad after apparently posting a picture on social media that indicated support for a white supremacist group.
Lili Gagin, a sophomore from Grayslake, Ill., allegedly posted a picture on her Snapchat story over the weekend that showed three young men — all wearing sweaters emblazoned with a large "K"— side by side at a party. The caption on the photo reads "Kkk go trump."
…Jim Marchiony, associate athletics director, confirmed early Tuesday morning that Gagin has been suspended and that there will be a formal investigation.
"It will be done as quickly as possible and we will include the University administration in whatever we do," Marchiony said in an email.
Gagin apologized for the photo via Twitter late Monday night, but said she was not the one who posted it.
According to the University directory, Gagin is still enrolled on campus. There has not yet been a statement issued regarding the young men in the photo, but Marchiony said KU Athletics will be meeting Tuesday morning to discuss their roles in the matter.
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BIG 12/COLLEGE NEWS
Iowa State senior point guard Monté Morris has been named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Player of the Week after recording a triple-double against The Citadel Sunday afternoon. Kansas freshman Josh Jackson was named the newcomer of the week.
Morris, a Flint, Michigan native, recorded the fifth triple in ISU history and the 15th in the Big 12 record books in the win over The Citadel. Morris had 17 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and zero turnovers in 22 minutes versus the Bulldogs. It was the fifth time nationally since 2010-11 that a triple-double included 10 assists and no miscues.
For the week, Morris averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in a pair of Cyclone victories last week.
The Big Ten issued a statement today that one of the game officials -- not the school’s timekeeper -- started the clock too early during the final seconds of Michigan State’s 78-77 victory over Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday night at the Breslin Center.
Rick Boyages, a Big Ten associate commissioner and executive director of the Men’s Basketball Collegiate Officiating Consortium, acknowledged the “officiating timing error” in a release.
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Kenny Wooten, a 6-8 senior forward from Trinity Christian High School in Las Vegas, on Monday announced a list of five: KU, Arizona, USC, Cal and Oregon. He is not ranked by Rivals.com or ESPN.com. Once committed to Nevada, he is originally from Manteca, Calif. He told Rivals.com he might enroll at a college for second-semester classes but not play in games until next season.
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