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AUDIO: KU-Baylor Highlights from Bob Davis & Greg Gurley
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They came to Baylor as underdogs, this Kansas program that had won 10 straight Big 12 titles and 23 straight conference openers.
For more than a decade, Kansas coach Bill Self has built a program that has never really bothered to think of itself as anybody’s underdog. But that’s what No. 12 Kansas was Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center. As the hunt for an eleventh straight Big 12 title began, the Jayhawks arrived in this central Texas arena as three-point underdogs. Expected to lose.
And until the final seconds, it looked as if that was a distinct possibility. So consider this Kansas’ opening salvo to the rest of the Big 12, a 56-55 victory over No. 21 Baylor on Wednesday night. For Self, some truths never quite die. When the game is close in the final minutes, and the pressure of a road environment begins to weigh heavy, nobody pulls out victories quite like Kansas.
“You may think it’s a pretty good win,” Self said, standing satisfied deep in the Ferrell Center. “But trust me, at the end of the year, this will go down as a really good win.”
Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self extended his right hand to Baylor big man Rico Gathers as he passed him in a Ferrell Center hallway a half hour after the Jayhawks’ thrilling 56-55 victory over the Bears.
“You were a monster tonight, bud,” Self told the 6-foot-8, 275-pound Gathers after the No. 12-ranked Jayhawks (12-2, 1-0) rode some late-game heroics by Wayne Selden Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr., and Brannen Greene — and an all-around effort by Jamari Traylor (13 points, five boards) and Frank Mason III (11 points, five assists) to victory over No. 21 BU.
Gathers, who grinned and said, “Thank you,” to Self pulled down 14 rebounds (nine offensive) and scored nine points — and at one point was poised to be the hero of the game after ripping numerous caroms and 50/50 balls away from Jayhawks in 29 minutes of action.
…“My deal is to foul under five (seconds, rather than let an opponent shoot a three),” Self said. “We fouled right at five. It worked out OK. The risk is you’ve got Gathers on the glass. We rolled the dice, played the percentages and got fortunate.”
Self continued ... “Usually when people foul late like that they are going to force their opponents to miss the second one. They decided to make it which was smart because there were five seconds left. There was too much time. It was the percentage play,” Self added, “but I’m not sure I wouldn’t play it out, make them drive it or whatever, but it worked out great. What happened is you could have lost the game because we fouled and missed the free throw. Down one, all they’ve got to do is make a basket and we lose. The worse you can do is overtime the other way.”
No overtime this night, thanks in part to the 6-foot-7 Oubre, who harassed the 5-11 Chery on the inbounds pass.
“That was the play of the game,” Greene said. “Coach made the sub. He (Oubre) hadn’t played much the second half. Kelly came in with a good attitude. He knew we needed a stop. He has the longest arms. He’s our best defender, came in and made the play.”
Jamari Traylor put Kansas back in the game. His friends, though, were the closers.
Wayne Selden hit two clutch shots in the final 2 1/2 minutes and Brannen Greene knocked down two crucial free throws with 6.3 seconds left as the 12th-ranked Jayhawks came away with a 56-55 victory over No. 21 Baylor on Wednesday night at Ferrell Center.
…After KU’s offensive futility put it in a 22-18 halftime hole, the 6-foot-8 Traylor was the Jayhawks’ best player during some of the most important minutes.
With 13:55 left in the second half, the forward received the ball at the high post against BU's active zone, took a couple of dribbles, then delivered a high lob to teammate Cliff Alexander for a slam. He followed that by driving through the zone for a layup, then delivering a scoop pass to Alexander for another dunk on the next possession as KU took a 36-34 lead with 12:32 remaining.
The Jayhawks had to finish the game without their zone-buster, as Traylor fouled out with 5:18 left.
…With KU clinging to a one-point lead with 10.1 seconds left, Self checked Kelly Oubre — he hadn’t played since the 10:39 mark of the second half — for defensive purposes. On cue, the freshman tipped Chery’s inbounds pass, and the loose ball caromed off BU to give the ball back to KU (12-2, 1-0 Big 12). Oubre celebrated by clenching his fists below him, screaming, “That’s right; let’s go!” toward the KU fans in the upper sections.
…The Jayhawks made 8 of 29 field goals (28 percent) and 2 of 11 3s (18 percent), recording the second-lowest first-half total under Self.
"They're long and they really get out and guard you," Selden said. "You really don't know who's guarding you or who to make guard you at certain times. On top of that they're very fast and quick to the ball."
The Jayhawks responded by making 72 percent of their shots in the final 20 minutes.
"Our half-court execution the second half," Self said, "was pretty damn good."
A late flurry from Wayne Selden propelled Kansas to a key road win at Baylor. Selden erupted for seven straight points on three consecutive possessions to give the Jayhawks the lead with just over one minute remaining and then he hustled back on defense to make a big blocked shot in the final seconds to help preserve a 56-55 victory.
Can we exhale now? Welcome to the Big 12 in 2015, where every game, potentially, is a game of inches.
Down 54-53, Baylor's Royce O'Neale surges down the court for what should be a lead-changing layup with 10.1 seconds left. Kansas guard Wayne Selden and forward Perry Ellis, closing fast and late, converge, changing a shot that never truly finds the rim. The carom lands on the hands of the Bears' Rico Gathers, who gets an easier bunny than O'Neale just had. Only that comes off too strong, and the second carom goes off of Ellis. Baylor ball.
Enter Kelly Oubre Jr., whose fingertips and 7-foot-2 wingspan deflect the inbounds pass by 5-11 Bears guard Kenny Chery. The two go up in a dead heat, both hands on the rock as it reaches its apex, bouncing back out of bounds, and the nearest official rules the ball went off Chery last.
The two sides trade a pair of free throws each, and when Jayhawks point guard Frank Mason misses the front end of a one-and-one with 3.9 seconds left, Baylor, down one, gets another crack. Four seconds is an eternity in college basketball. Oubre squeezes the dribbler on the defensive end to delay the relay, and Selden and Ellis race back to tighten the screws at midcourt. By the time Baylor sees daylight at the other basket, the final horn has already sounded.
Did we say inches? We meant millimeters.
…If the Jayhawks (12-2, 1-0) are destined to grab an 11th straight league title, it will likely be more a slog than a runaway. And it could require a different hero every night.
Or, in the case of the wild win at Waco, a different hero every 10 minutes. It was Brannen Greene early, Jamari Traylor in the middle, Selden late and Oubre right at the end.
…It's grind time, and nobody grinds at this time of the year the way the Jayhawks do.
Fox Sports Keeler
In the victory, the Jayhawks, the Big 12's best from three-point range, couldn’t quite keep pace with a Baylor team that connected on 8-of-15 shots from behind the arc. Baylor guard Kenny Chery hit 4-of-7 three-pointers, finishing the night with 25 points, leading all scorers, but sophomore Brannen Greene curbed some of the effect with two three-pointers of his own and 12 points total.
Its largest lead of the night was three points, but the Jayhawks (12-2, 1-0) grinded out a crucial conference road win against the title-contending Bears (11-3, 0-2). Kansas simply kept Baylor at arm’s length, and it made more plays when it mattered most.
After starting just 2-of-9 from the field, Kansas guard Wayne Selden hit his final three field goals in the last three minutes, good for seven of his nine points.
When Baylor needed a play with 12 seconds left, however, it missed two layups, threw an in-bounds pass away on Kelly Oubre Jr.'s deflection, and failed to get a shot off in time.
Kansas coach Bill Self will say that you never apologize for winning on the road, especially in the Big 12.
Even if the Jayhawks stole one like they did tonight.
The Bears believe they can begin turning around their Big 12 season by beating TCU on Saturday in Fort Worth.
“I feel like we can either take this as a punch in the face and mope – kind of how we did at the beginning of the (conference) season last year – or we can use this as motivation and reach our limit as a team,” said Gathers who finished with nine points and 14 rebounds. “It’s not how you start, it’s about how you finish.”
Kansas has more challengers to its Big 12 throne this year than it had in any of the previous seasons during its 10-year conference title run. Sure, the Jayhawks have held off better teams during their reign than they’re likely to face this season, but never under Bill Self have they had to deal with a minimum of five schools that could legitimately compete.
They dealt with the first of those challengers, Baylor, on Wednesday night in a 56-55 win. They did so on the road with their A-game apparently back in Lawrence, but they still emerged with a win, serving notice to the rest of the conference that they remain the team to beat.
…The endgame was yet another debacle for the Bears. Mason went to the line with 3.9 seconds left and the Jayhawks ahead by one. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, leading to a mad dash down the court on which Lester Medford ended up with the ball in his hands and a wide open look at the hoop. Instead of pulling up with the clock about to hit zeroes, he tried to drive to the basket. By time he got there, time had expired. Ultimately, it was a missed opportunity for Baylor to strike an early blow in the loaded Big 12.
This may very well be the year someone other than Kansas wins the Big 12. Oklahoma is undoubtedly a serious threat, as is Iowa State, Texas, West Virginia and, yes, Baylor, despite what happened on Wednesday night. The road to the Big 12 championship, however, still runs through Lawrence.
The Jayhawks won in the same way the man with less arterial leakage won the knife fight. Great win ... but hey, man, you don't look so good.
This is the defining dilemma of the 2014-15 Kansas Jayhawks, and it's the same one that has existed since our first glimpse in November: Is this team actually good?
…Kansas does that -- it scraps. More than any other, a vague sense of toughness might be the Jayhawks' most impressive quality. Maybe it's the only obvious one.
…Kansas' offense can be effective, but it's rarely fluid. This is not a vintage passing attack. Self's trademark high-low sets haven't quite materialized. When you watch the Jayhawks, you can't help but feel like something's missing, some intuitive sense of tactical cohesion. Seven weeks in, KU is still less than the sum of its parts.
And despite all that, the Jayhawks are 12-2, winners of every close game they've played, the latest and closest of which came in Wednesday night's Big 12 opener. It was a simultaneously promising and disconcerting start to the conference campaign, and it came just after a promising and disconcerting nonconference run. There are positives and negatives, pros and cons, but no definitive answer to the overriding question of whether Kansas is actually good.
Give the Jayhawks this much -- they're tough. Whether that's enough is a question only the 2014-15 Big 12 schedule will be able to answer.
“We’re a close-knit team,” said sophomore guard Brannen Greene, who came off the bench to score 12 points, including two clutch free throws with 6.3 seconds remaining. “That’s one of the reasons we pulled this out, the experience we’ve had in past games. What I think is special about this team, we’ve come out on top when we need to.”
The Bears (11-3, 0-2) walked off the floor after the final buzzer baffled that the scoreboard wasn’t in their favor. Baylor had statistical edges in rebounding (36-28), made more free throws and more 3-pointers. But Kansas, which has won 10 consecutive Big 12 titles, flew home to Lawrence on a happy plane.
“We let one slip away,” said Rico Gathers, who had 14 points and nine rebounds.
“This is one where mental mistakes cost us, it’s really frustrating but we’ve got to move on,” said Baylor’s Kenny Chery, who had a game-high 25.
…Kansas shot 72.7 percent, almost complete opposite of the 27.6 percent in the first half.
“We can’t allow that kind of shooting percentage in the second half,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Kansas did a great job executing its offense in the second half.”
Big 12 Sports Barnhouse
Carroll Webb is a longtime Baylor fan whose seat is only a couple of steps off the court. When 6-foot-10 Kansas forward Landen Lucas went after a loose ball in the first half, he tumbled over Webb, knocking the elderly man out of his seat. People rushed to tend to Webb, who got up and gave a thumbs-up. On the next whistle, Lucas went over to check on Webb, who a few minutes later walked to reporters and said, "I'm all right," and that he expected to be in their stories. Well-earned, Mr. Webb.
1/7/15, 10:12 AM
Kansas point guard Frank Mason really playing well: Averaging 12.9 points, 4.9 assists and shooting 55 percent from 3 over last 11 games.
1/7/15, 10:08 PM
Interesting that in the never ending foul or not foul convo.... @CoachBillSelf fouls. So smart, prevents possible 3 by red hot Kenny Chery.
1/7/15, 10:05 PM
Baylor's final 12 seconds included two missed layups, a failed inbounds pass, and then didn't get off a shot before the buzzer. Tough finish
1/7/15, 10:06 PM
Kansas with a road win in Waco. Jayhawks have won a bunch of close games. Wayne Selden was key in crunch time.
1/8/15, 1:06 AM
KU-Baylor was the slowest Big 12 game in at least five years: 52 possessions.
1/8/15, 8:36 AM
After last night's L, Scott Drew has only beaten Bill Self TWICE since they started in B12 in '03. That's major ownage.
@LostLettermen (I think it might be 3 actually, but still ownage!)
1/7/15, 11:16 PM
Gotta be a better professional for my younger teammates , and can't let my emotions get the best of me.. Love my coach and my team Great win FOE
1/7/15, 12:15 PM
Markieff Morris. #NBABallot #VoteSuns
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It’s football-related but a must read on former Jayhawk: Pitbull Defender Chris Harris Jr Can’t Be Held Down
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“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Big 12 / College News
Texas was blasted by Oklahoma on Monday night revealing two things to the Big 12. One, that Oklahoma is one of the favorites to win the conference and two, that Texas' offensive issues are a huge concern heading forward.
Kansas looked much improved as Bill Self dramatically shortened his bench vs. UNLV. But OU, another team without much bench help, is much older and has three or four scorers on the floor at once, which makes them a really tough cover. The Sooners were awful defensively last season and spent essentially every offseason workout on defense. Then their shot selection suffered, when TaShawn Thomas was declared immediately after transferring from Houston as the Sooners seemed to have "shot envy" of each other.
But since the Tulsa game (they had a week off to truly integrate Thomas and two post players unlike last year with Cameron Clark at the 4) Oklahoma has been a machine on offense.
A big reason is Isaiah Cousins' play. Cousins has made himself into a lights-out shooter and combined with Buddy Hield, OU has a wide-open lane for their big men to operate. Thomas has a great old-man game with shot fakes, post-ups and a 17-foot jumper to boot. Oklahoma, like Iowa State, can throw scorers at you and Texas just can not get buckets from anyone consistently in the half court.
Texas has a lot of athletes and length, but there isn't a shot creator for anyone else as Isaiah Taylor is just an athletic guard and Javan Felix is a scoring point guard. Although all of their players are good, no one breaks you down nor stretches you out. Additionally, Texas plays mostly half court man-to-man and that doesn't turn you over or force tempo.
With Iowa State surviving Oklahoma State, Kansas looking good - not great - thus far and Texas devoid of offense, do not be stunned if OU and maybe even West Virginia push for a conference crown.
A national-best six Big 12 schools are ranked in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll. But only one (No. 10 Texas) is in the Top 10—and the Longhorns will certainly tumble following Monday's embarrassing 21-point home loss to Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, the ACC has three teams (No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Virginia and No. 5 Louisville) ranked in the Top Five and two others (No. 14 Notre Dame and No. 18 North Carolina) in the Top 20.
"Duke, Louisville and Virginia all have a chance to make the Final Four," Katz said. "In the Big 12, Kansas is Kansas. They'll always be in the mix. But other than (the Jayhawks), I'm not sure any other team has a very good chance."
Most who argue for the Big 12 over the ACC cite the Big 12's depth and balance as the main reason. They point to the success of schools such as West Virginia, Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU—all of whom were picked to finish in the second half of the league.
One-loss West Virginia is ranked No. 14, and Baylor is No. 21. TCU went undefeated in nonconference, and Oklahoma State only lost twice.
Other than Texas Tech, the league "doesn't have any real stinkers," Jerry Palm of CBS Sports told B/R.
"People can get superficial when they try to determine the strength of a conference," Palm said. "They don't go past the best teams. Instead, it's 'How many Top 25 teams do you have? That's the best league. How many top 10 teams do you have? That's the best league.
…"But a good league has depth. If you're gong to measure a league, you can't just stop with the top good stats and numbers. A league is a league. It's not just about the top teams. It's about all all the teams."
While the ACC's second-tier programs may not have a good reputation nationally, there is reason to believe the criticism is a bit overblown.
Wake Forest, for example, only trailed Louisville by three points with 2:13 remaining before wilting down the stretch Sunday. Florida State boasts a win over Florida, and Clemson beat NCAA tournament contenders Arkansas and LSU. Georgia Tech lost in overtime to No. 13 Notre Dame, and Miami earned a spot in the rankings after beating then-ranked Florida and Illinois.
In the Big 12, Oklahoma State and TCU have gaudy records, but neither touts a victory over a team that's a sure bet to make the NCAA tournament.
None of that matters to Baylor coach Scott Drew, who says the Big 12 has the ultimate weapon to defend itself against anyone who tries to argue that the league isn't the country's best.
For the second straight year, the Big 12 is at the top of the list. The ACC is No. 2.
BR Jason King
Wake Forest led Duke with less than six minutes left in the game -- something not even No. 4 Wisconsin could manage -- and is the only team this season to come within single digits of the Blue Devils in their 73-65 loss.
This is the same Wake Forest squad that didn't put up much of a fight when it lost by 30 to Arkansas in November. But Duke was warned before playing in the ACC's oldest series, which dates back to 1906: The Demon Deacons pushed No. 5 Louisville on Sunday before falling 85-76.
"Doesn't matter what record a team has. There's no night off, especially on the road," Duke senior guard Quinn Cook said. "Our upperclassmen obviously know it from suffering a loss here last year."
Look around the league and there were similar results. Clemson had a halftime lead on Louisville -- on the road -- before eventually losing 58-52. NC State led in the second half on the road at No. 3 Virginia before the Cavaliers pulled out a 61-51 win.
The new look, 15-team ACC and its four Hall of Fame coaches may not be the mega-conference juggernaut it was billed to be in the preseason. The top of the league is as heavy as expected with Duke, Virginia and Louisville all ranked in the top five. They've all given reason to be considered Final Four contenders.
The teams in the middle and lower tier didn't win the marquee nonconference games that would have bolstered the league's argument as the nation's best. In fact, most of them suffered bad losses. But those teams are now confirming they have a lot more fight than they've previously shown.
1/8/15, 8:47 AM
We'll see you in September, @CanesHoops.
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By Thursday afternoon, Kansas could have its first commitment in its 2015 recruiting class. Carlton Bragg, a five-star big man from Cleveland, will make his official announcement in a ceremony at his high school at 1:45 p.m. Thursday.
Bragg, a 6-foot-9 forward, is choosing among Kansas, Kentucky and Illinois. A senior at Villa Angela St. Joseph High School, Bragg is rated as the nation’s No. 14 overall recruit by Rivals.com.
In recent days, Kansas has appeared to emerge as the favorite to land Bragg. National recruiting analysts from multiple recruiting services are picking Kansas as the likely destination for Bragg.
Bragg has been one of Kansas’ prime recruiting targets in the 2015 class. He visited Kansas in October during the Jayhawks’ Late Night in the Phog festivities, and the Jayhawks have remained a likely destination.
Kansas coach Bill Self said last summer that he wanted to focus on big men in his 2015 recruiting class. The Jayhawks, who have zero scholarship seniors on the roster, currently have two open scholarships for next season.
Bragg, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound senior power forward, who is ranked No. 14 nationally by Rivals.com, will attend a reception in the school’s Ministry Center where he, coach Babe Kwasniak and others are expected to make brief comments.
The decision is slated to be revealed at the twitter handle @realchalktalk shortly after the 1:45 p.m. announcement is made. David Cassilo of Cleveland.com wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that the Website is planning a live-stream of the event. His Twitter handle is @dcassilo.
…It’s said Bragg would like to be part of a package deal with No. 2-rated Jaylen Brown, a 6-7 senior from Wheeler High in Marietta, Georgia; and No. 18 Brandon Ingram, 6-8 from Kinston (North Carolina) High. Both are also considering KU and Kentucky.
Bragg received scholarship offers from more than 20 schools, including Indiana, Texas, Michigan State, UConn, Louisville, Ohio State and Pittsburgh.
To get to know Bragg better, here's a breakdown on him from Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi (Ebosshoops on Twitter).
Q: What is Carlton's game like?
A: I think Bragg is somebody who ultimately wants to be more of a face-up 4 man. He shoots the ball pretty well and is definitely a very good athlete. He needs to add a little bit of weight, so he's a little bit inconsistent on the glass and as a shot-blocker playing on the interior at times. But while he wants to be a face-up 4, he's most effective when he starts inside, gets some easy buckets around the rim and then faces up and starts taking a mid-range jumper an an occasional 3. But he's a very talented guy who has a chance of making a pretty big impact as a freshman.
Q: What kind of fit would KU be for him?
A: He seems like a good fit. I think some of the best power forwards that Kansas has had have been able to face up and shoot mid-range jumpers and operate and run some offense through them out of the high post, whether that be Marcus Morris or Darrell Arthur or whoever. You're never going to wrong having a big who can shoot it and can stretch the defense a little bit while also being able to play on the interior.
Q: What are the biggest concerns for him?
A: Anybody that's evaluated him over time has seen that on those nights when he comes out firing jumpers first, he doesn't play as well as nights he comes out and gets some easy buckets around the rim and gets involved running the floor and playing above the rim and in the lane. That's pretty typical with a young big guy who has face-up skill. When you have some ability to face the basket at 6 foot 9, it's hard for 17-, 18-year-old kids to resist going out and playing on the perimeter a little bit, because all big guys envision themselves as point guards, and all point guards and wing players like to think they can play with the big guys. It's just typical things. But I think the biggest thing will be strength and consistency, though.
Wheeler built a 26-point lead at the half and built on it from there, en route to an 83-35 rout of Milton on Saturday.
Jaylen Brown had 25 points to lead Wheeler, while Shembari Phillips added 23. Cameron Jordan was also in double figures with 12 points.
Wheeler (13-1, 5-0 Region 5AAAAAA), the state’s No. 1 team and nation’s No. 10 according to MaxPreps, will play at Pope on Tuesday.
The Marietta Daily Journal - Prep Roundup Brown sparks Wheeler in big rout of Milton
Kentucky’s John Calipari, Kansas’ Bill Self, Duke’s Jon Scheyer and Arizona’s Joe Pasternack are among the coaches expected in Thursday night to watch 7-foot 2016 Australian sensation Isaac Humphries of La Porte (IN) La Lumiere when they play Wasatch Academy (UT).
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