KUAD Recap, Box Score, Photos, Notes, Quotes, Radio highlights, Videos
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The lead slowly increased to 20 and then 22, and, really, it could’ve been even more, but Self continued to cycle through his bench.
Really, the only constant in the period was the play of Mason, who posted eight points and two steals in the first 10 minutes of the half. Two days after Self challenged his point guard to attack more, Mason responded with another strong performance, finishing with 16 points and three assists in the win.
"Frank is the leader of this team," senior forward Perry Ellis said. "We follow him."
Jeff Hawkins smiled wide, carrying the Big 12 championship trophy outside the northwest tunnel at Allen Fieldhouse along with former teammate Aaron Miles.
Hawkins had long made plans to be at Saturday’s game to celebrate his son’s birthday. But when asked that morning if he’d help this year’s Kansas team celebrate earning a share of its 12th straight conference title … well, the 33-year-old Hawkins couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that.
“It brought back chills and memories,” Hawkins said. “Just glad to see those guys happy to take the trophy off our hands.”
Hawkins and Miles eventually turned the hardware over to KU senior Jamari Traylor, a symbolic gesture following No. 2 KU’s 67-58 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Miles, now KU’s assistant director of student-athlete development, should know a thing or two about that streak. Then a senior, Miles teamed with Wayne Simien, Jeff Hawkins and others in 2004-05 to lift coach Bill Self to his first Big 12 title.
Perhaps it was only fitting, then, that Miles, Simien and Hawkins were all there Saturday to present the Jayhawk players with their conference trophy.
But, after the special video package had aired, the net had been cut down and the fans had filed out, Miles stayed. When asked about his own team’s place in what is now a 12-year run trailing only UCLA (13 seasons, 1967-79) in NCAA history, he instead turned his focus to the present.
“We just need to talk about this year’s team,” Miles said, “because it’s 12, but it’s one. It’s one championship for these young fellas, and they deserve it.”
Later, in the hallway between the court and the KU locker room, sophomore Devonte’ Graham sped past Miles on a hoverboard.
“Great job, kid!” Miles shouted as Graham buzzed by.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was 7 when the streak began.
And now, at least for a day, the Kansas basketball sophomore can say he is the biggest reason why it will enter a 13th year.
Mykhailiuk scored a team-high 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting off the bench to power the Jayhawks to a 67-58 victory Saturday against Texas Tech at Allen Fieldhouse. The win clinched at least a share of a 12th straight Big 12 regular-season championship for KU.
To put this all into perspective, the 6-foot-8, 195-pound native of Cherkasy, Ukraine, didn’t even know Kansas existed when this all began.
Not just the school. The state.
“Winning 12 in a row, that’s a great accomplishment,” Mykhailiuk said. “But like coach says, we need to focus on just winning every game.”
There was no Facebook the last time Kansas missed out on the Big 12 men’s basketball championship. It was called “Thefacebook” then, one word, and it was only available at Harvard. There was no Twitter. Hurricane Katrina had not landed. The Harry Potter series had only reached its third movie: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
…Kansas’ journey to the Big 12 title this year is illustrative of why it does matter. Yes, March Madness is fun and it gives us a great storyline, but it doesn’t necessarily reward excellence. A good team with a hot three weeks can win it all. A great team with an injury or an off-shooting night can lose before the madness begins to bubble. That’s the way we like it, but Kansas’ streak describes a different kind of brilliance, and this year has been perhaps the best example of that brilliance. Everyone knows it has been a crazy college basketball season. Nobody can stay at No. 1. There have been so many upsets that it’s wrong to even call them upsets. As Self says, there are probably 25 teams that can go into the NCAA Tournament knowing that, with a good run, they can win it all.
…“I think one thing that is a little bit different is that you have a lot of experience,” Self says. “Look, I’m not saying that everyone doesn’t try hard. But freshmen sometimes don’t understand what it really takes to win and really be successful. That’s something you have to work on all the time.
“I do think that there’s a care level that exists more when you put in four years in the weight room, four years of being chewed out, four years of crying together, four years of getting your heart broken together. I do think there’s a care level that exists with those guys, and it raises everybody’s level.”
NBC Joe Posnanski
“What an accomplishment by this team,” Self said. “It was nice to see the fans stick around. Usually I don’t like doing stuff like that, but they (Jayhawks) deserve it.”
What followed was a players-only net-cutting ceremony that started with junior guard Frank Mason III climbing the ladder and ended with senior Perry Ellis clipping a final strand of net. Most of the players stuck the strand through the flap of their new, blue, “12 straight” Big 12 champion caps.
“It just feels great, thinking about all the hard work, all the hours you put in. It pays off in the end,” said KU senior Perry Ellis, who scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds on a day Svi Mykhailiiuk led the way with five threes in as many tries and 17 points.
…The Jayhawks celebrated with class on Saturday. The players signed autographs for 30 minutes or more apiece in a longer than usual post-game autograph line, many posing for pictures while wearing their hats and blue title T-shirts.
“I don’t know what to think, man. It’s just an amazing feeling,” said Mason, who hit three threes and scored 16 points with three assists, three turnovers and two steals in 35 minutes. “Twelve straight is something we’ll always remember.”
Senior Traylor, who had three points and three boards in 13 minutes, playfully counted each of the fingers and thumb on his left hand before entering the post-game handshake line with freshmen Cheick Diallo (six boards, two points, 13 minutes) and Carlton Bragg, Jr. (two points, one board, six minutes). He has five titles to his credit, having red-shirted his freshman year.
Back in late January, Kansas dropped a game at Iowa State to fall to 5-3, giving more relevance to the annual question that hangs over the league: "Is this the end of The Streak?" In a conference that will likely send seven teams to the NCAA Tournament, the Jayhawks responded with nine consecutive wins to answer the question with a resounding "no."
Saturday's win gave Self a 205-9 all-time record at Allen Fieldhouse. For the math majors out there, that's 1.3 conference titles for each home loss.
Self's accomplishment at KU is quietly one of the most impressive in all of sports. With so much turnover and so much more balance in talent, fighting through rebuilds and fending off future NBA superstars to make 12 a reality seems impossible. But Kansas did it.
As for the rest of the Big 12: Better luck next year.
sports on earth Ubben
The sun rises.
Water is wet.
Kansas wins the Big 12.
And anyone who thinks it doesn’t matter to the Jayhawks is sadly mistaken.
"It means a lot, a whole lot," Mason said. "We take a lot of pride in winning the conference. We want to win it for ourselves but for the people who came before us as well."
Indeed, to the players the title will no doubt be met with as much a sigh of relief as joy. Kansas, of course, is a place where the pressure to achieve is always extraordinary. The Streak has only upped the ante.
Kansas doesn’t want it to end.
Everyone else wants to be the one to end it.
Earlier this year, as West Virginia players were watching their managers play against Kansas' the night before their own game -- as has become tradition -- the Mountaineers also were keeping a close eye on the Texas-Oklahoma score. An Oklahoma loss would have helped WVU’s Big 12 cause.
"What’s the score? What’s the score?" Esa Ahmad asked over and over again.
"I wouldn’t say we get nervous about it, but there’s definitely more pressure because everyone else wants us to lose," Perry Ellis said recently. "And then, our own fans, winning is expected."
The last time Kansas did not claim the Big 12 title, Usher's "Yeah" was unavoidable on the radio, Facebook was a new site your parents hadn't yet discovered and Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were still America's favorite couple.
That streak will continue at least one more year.
…Credit Self for adapting to his roster, altering his paint-to-perimeter mindset and playing to his strengths. With two point guards in its starting five and shooters all over the floor, this Kansas team excels scoring in transition, making plays off the dribble or bombing away from behind the arc.
…Of all their Big 12 titles the past 12 years, none is more impressive than this one.
Miles said he enjoyed delivering the 2015-16 Big 12 trophy to the current Jayhawks with 2004-05 (first year of streak) league-title teammates Wayne Simien and Jeff Hawkins.
“They thought it’d be a great idea for us being part of the first team to deliver the trophy to the young fellas (out northwest tunnel onto court). We’re honored to be part of it,” Miles said. “This school has so much tradition. Coach Self does a tremendous job. Twelve of his 13 years he’s been here (KU has won league titles) ... that’s a testament to coach Self and his staff.”
Miles, by the way, hasn’t retired from pro basketball. He said he hasn’t decided yet whether to resume his career in Europe next season. He’s rehabbing from hip surgery this season.
…Mykhailiuk’s five threes in five tries were the most without a miss in a Big 12 Conference game since Jeff Hawkins made five against Baylor in 2005.
Svi Mykhailiuk has taken his act, in the past seen mostly in practice, and gone public with it. As a result, an already strong Kansas University basketball roster has become deeper, smoother, more dangerous.
Svi’s late-season surge equates to a contending Major League Baseball team adding a hired gun for the stretch run and postseason. A more consistent Johnny Cueto in sneakers.
Svi made all five of his three-point shots and led Kansas with 17 points in 23 minutes off the bench during Saturday's 67-58 victory against Texas Tech. A nine-game winning streak, 12 consecutive Big 12 titles, a hired gun joining the mix. Nobody will dispute KU’s No. 1 ranking when the Associated Press college basketball poll is released Monday.
“He looks like a pro,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I mean, he looks like a pro to me. The way he played at K-State, those were as good a plays, I mean looking plays, as anybody’s made for us this year. Jumping up shooting threes in transition, confident.”
…Svi led the way but was not solely responsible for the bench's strong contribution on a day the starters needed the help. Jamari Traylor and Chieck Diallo combined for nine rebounds and three blocked shots in 26 minutes.
Things are rounding into shape in timely fashion for Kansas, whose coach is forever mindful of means to ensure his players remain hungry.
There simply hasn't been a whole lot of disappointment under Self, whose Kansas teams have won 377 of 459 games since he took over. Kansas hit No. 1 in the AP polls in five different seasons and never finished lower than No. 16.
Most impressive may be the balance his teams have shown.
He's coached a 20 points-per-game player just once (Wayne Simien) during his first season. His pair of Final Four appearances have come behind lineups with three or four players averaging double-digit points, and his championship run came without a player taking more than 11 shots per game.
When Kansas scuffled through a 2-3 stretch in January, losing all three games by double digits, the streak looked doomed.
But the Jayhawks haven’t lost since, Saturday’s victory was their ninth straight, and the other contenders couldn’t keep up.
So, give another title to Kansas. That’s 12 straight, 14 out of 15 and 16 in the 20-year history of the Big 12, including first-place ties.
Here’s our ranking of KU’s 12 straight Big 12 championship teams from best to 12th-best, keeping in mind the final rating of this year’s Jayhawks could improve with a strong postseason.
“We’ve got to keep it going, getting better day by day,” Traylor said.
The Jayhawks will have almost no preparation time as Sunday is a travel day to Austin after a short practice or shooting session.
“This isn’t like NFL football where you rest your starters the last game,” coach Bill Self said. “We are playing for seeds. We are playing for a lot of stuff. We want to continue to play well. If we have to, we can take Tuesday and Wednesday off (then start preparing for Saturday’s 3 p.m., Senior Day contest vs. Iowa State).”
Though his team has won nine straight games, Self is not thrilled at the way the Jayhawks have been playing.
“We right now are going through a semi-phase we think we can turn it on when we want to. That happened tonight,” Self said. “We were close to cracking them at 20 (point lead with 10 minutes left) and the next thing it’s eight (points).”
Self isn't afraid to turn to his bench for a spark.
Against Texas Tech, the leader in scoring and blocks both came off the bench. And that's a trend that may continue into March — and potentially into April. And it's not because the starters aren't good, it's just the team has depth that's not often found in college basketball.
“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
UK looks like a team that'll be in the 3-4-5-6 range in terms of its seed in the NCAA Tournament, which means UK is going to be a super-talented 3-4-5-6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and an unfortunate matchup for somebody.
But we'll figure that out later.
For now, let's focus on Vanderbilt.
Because Vanderbilt is turning into an amazing story.
The Commodores were 8-7 overall and 0-3 in the SEC seven Saturdays ago, just a mess offensively and in general. But they've now won three straight and 10 of their past 14 to move to 18-11 overall and 10-6 in the SEC, and their resume suddenly features five top-50 RPI wins.
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