Jayhawks open as 8-point favorite over Florida #kubball
Chris Walker: The McDonald’s All-American missed most of his freshman season at Florida because of grade issues and has basically been invisible for the 3-3 Gators so far this year. He’s averaging just 5.0 points and 4.5 rebounds off the bench.
Florida at Kansas: Everything seems to be going wrong for the Gators. Forward Dorian Finney-Smith and Eli Carter have been out with injuries, and Walker has yet to make a significant impact. That’s not a good recipe when you’re going into the most hostile environment in all of college basketball. Kansas 72-57.
Florida at No. 11 Kansas, 9 p.m. ET, Friday, ESPN: When I met with Michael Frazier II and Dorian Finney-Smith during SEC Media Day in Charlotte in October, neither seemed too concerned about the hit they'd taken when they lost four key seniors from last season's team. "We've got scorers," Frazier told me then. But that's not apparent yet (Florida is 61st in adjusted offensive efficiency). Meanwhile, Kansas has recovered well from that Kentucky loss. Perry Ellis might be the Big 12's best player. Cliff Alexander is evolving. Frank Mason is leading. And four of KU's five wins were by 10 points or more. The other came against Michigan State. The Jayhawks ain't losing in Lawrence.
Prediction: Kansas 68, Florida 61
1. Florida's first true road game comes at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. How can the Gators stay in the game?
Andy Katz: Make shots. Florida's defense wasn't the issue in the Bahamas. But the Gators couldn't shoot. If Michael Frazier II gets hot, then the Gators have a chance. They need someone to be a shot maker.
Eamonn Brennan: I don't want to say they can't, because Kansas has shown plenty of flaws of its own this season. The good news for Florida is the Jayhawks aren't forcing any turnovers so far this season -- which was among the Gators' issues in their three losses thus far. The bad news is Kansas is pretty good at disallowing good looks at the rim, and the Gators have shot just 29.5 percent from 3 and 44.1 percent from 2. It would take a totally different performance for Florida to leave Lawrence with a win.
C.L. Brown: The only time the Gators started 3-3 under Billy Donovan was his first year in Gainesville. Their confidence has taken a beating, but staying poised is the only way they have a chance of winning in Phog Allen. Florida will need point guard Kasey Hill to assert some serious leadership in that environment.
ESPN Daily Word
“Not good. Not good,” he said Wednesday in Gainesville, when asked by Florida reporters if he had any memories of Kansas University’s tradition-rich building, site of tonight’s 8 p.m., clash between Bill Self’s (5-1) Jayhawks and Donovan’s (3-3) Florida Gators.
“I was there at Kentucky. We lost by 55. That was the first year, 1989 I think it was. I think it was 155-100 score,” Donovan added.
Donovan served as an aide to Rick Pitino when UK was hammered by KU, 150-95, on Dec. 9, 1989, in Allen. It’s the most points scored by KU in a single game in history and most given up by Kentucky.
“It’s a great environment,” 19th-year Florida coach Donovan said. “I think when you go on the road against high-level teams you’re always going to play in a great environment. And certainly they have a great environment.”
…“I’ve never been there but I’ve heard it’s crazy,” Hill said of the fieldhouse. “Joel Embiid is one of my good friends. I talked to him last night actually on FaceTime and he said it’s a great environment.”
Former KU center Embiid spent a year at Hill’s Montverde Academy, before moving over to Florida Air Academy.
“We were just talking about our season and their season pretty much,” Hill said, referring to Embiid’s Philadelphia 76ers. “We both are losing right now but it was just out of jokes, honestly, talking about how he’s doing, how his (injured) foot is doing, seeing when he’s going to play again, stuff like that.”
Hill scored six points and had three assists in Florida’s win over KU last year.
“The seniors, the other guys, they were ready,” Hill said of the Gators. “They (Jayhawks) are experienced, they’ve been through it, and we’ll just try to be as ready as we can for the game and play as hard as we can and compete. They have good guards, we have good guards too, and we’re just gonna go out there and play hard and compete.”
Even with its best rebounder, Finney-Smith, trying to play through a broken hand, Florida has held its own on the boards this season. UF's rebounding margin is plus-4.7, but in a 75-64 loss to North Carolina, Tar Heels space-eating sophomore forward Kennedy Meeks had his way inside against the Gators with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
“We're not getting killed on the backboard,” Donovan said. “I was concerned about our size and our depth up front. We've managed at least to hold ground on the backboard.”
The game is a rematch of last year's SEC-Big 12 matchup, which Florida won 67-61 over Kansas in the O'Connell Center. In that game, Florida overwhelmed Kansas with its press, scoring 28 points off 24 Kansas turnovers. But it's unclear how effective UF's press will be on the road tonight with limited depth. Junior guard Eli Carter hasn't practiced all week and is doubtful with a sprained foot.
…In his last game starting at point guard in a hostile environment, Florida sophomore Kasey Hill went just 2-of-11 from the floor at Wisconsin, finishing with five points, four assists and two turnovers. Hill said he plans to block out the crowd tonight.
“You've just got to be focused and worry about your team and competing, and that's all,” Hill said.
Six games into the season, the 11th-ranked Jayhawks rank 16th in defensive efficiency, holding teams to 0.89 points per possession. Last Sunday, they captured the Orlando Classic title after holding Michigan State to 24-percent shooting in the second half. But one alarming trend has continued.
The Jayhawks still aren’t forcing turnovers.
After six games, Self’s defense is among the nation’s worst at forcing teams into mistakes. The Jayhawks have forced just 59 turnovers ,and their turnover percentage — the number of turnovers forced per possession — ranks 333rd in the nation. Another alarming number: Sophomore forward Landen Lucas has as many steals (five) as sophomore guard Wayne Selden.
“We’ve done a bad job of it,” Self said. “We’re kind of long, but we’re not as active defensively as what I thought we would be. We’re not quick in that regard.”
Earlier this week, as No. 11 Kansas prepared to face Florida, 3-3, in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge at 8 p.m. Friday at Allen Fieldhouse, Self conceded that his backcourt of big and athletic wings have been less active on defense than he expected.
“It’s a little bit less as far as us creating havoc than what I thought we would be,” Self said. “We’re better defensively than we were a year ago at the same juncture, but we certainly didn’t create a lot of havoc last year.”
1. Kansas’ Frank Mason III – a 5-11 sophomore guard – averaged 11 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists during the Orlando Classic.
2. Florida, which has lost three of its first six games for the first time since 1996-97, owns a school-record nine-game winning streak in true road games.
3. The Gators will be the Jayhawks’ third SEC opponent this season.
PREDICTION: Kansas 62, Florida 54
The fact that a 17-year-old Ukrainian is starting in Kansas' backcourt -- ahead of a projected preseason top-five pick from the U.S. -- is one of the more amazing stories of this early season. As we try to get a handle on how young, 6-8 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk helps the Jayhawks, it's worth questioning whether the notion that he's a lights-out shooter -- as I've heard multiple announcers suggest -- is correct. His college sample of just 24 treys is too small, but thanks to data collected by DraftExpress.com, we can look at Mykhailiuk's long-range shooting in 66 games over the past three years, at various levels of competition. His percentage is a far-from-deadeye 31.8, and the sample is 258 attempts.
SI Luke Winn Power Rankings
“There’s this one girl I always see and every time I see her she’s like ‘do you remember me? I told you to come here and follow your heart.’ Every single time I see her,” Graham said.
…Graham said that basketball has presented many opportunities for him.
“It’s given me the opportunity to travel the world, play high level competition and do things I never thought I could do,” Graham said. “I go places I never imagined growing up that you always see on TV, and it’s given me the opportunity to get a free education.”
Even with the daily pressure and busy schedule, Graham is content with his decision to attend and play basketball at Kansas.
“I felt like it was the best place for me,” Graham said. “I loved it when I came to visit. It felt like home.”
KUdayinthelife.com: Devonte Graham
With three years of experience on the basketball team, Ellis knows that once the season begins, managing time and having a plan to study is crucial for success
“The key thing is just taking the notes and paying attention in class and studying,” Ellis said. “It’s real tough in postseason play because you have to travel so many days for games, and you’re gone for a long amount of time, and you have tests you have to make up. The key thing is getting in contact with the teachers as early as possible, and they love seeing us succeed, so they’re rooting for us and want to help.”
Ellis also knows that staying out of the public eye and limiting partying are important, especially during tournament season.
“During March Madness, a lot more people are paying attention to you, the spotlight is on you so you have to make sure you’re doing the right thing,” Ellis said.
Ellis’ time on the team has helped him be both academically and athletically successful.
“Listen to your academic advisors and coaches right from the go — that’s key because you’re going to have to learn what they want you to do whether it’s now or later,” Ellis advised. “The sooner you do that, the sooner you buy into the system and the better it’s going to be.”
To unwind at the end of a hectic day, Ellis sticks to the same routine as when he was in high school.
“I’m just real low key,” Ellis said. “I like just chilling and talking with friends and just playing an Xbox game.”
While maintaining grades, classes and a basketball career is challenging and time consuming, Ellis loves being a student athlete.
“Basketball keeps me busy doing something I love,” Ellis said. “It’s humbling to me, getting the opportunity to play basketball here.”
KUdayinthelife.com: Perry Ellis
Tarik Black Adapting Just Fine
“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
The hiccups that were holding Cincinnati back from getting picked up have been addressed since then with the announcement that UC Bearcats basketball facilities are getting a major multimillion dollar overhaul in addition to a newly renovated Nippert Stadium.
For a long time, many (including myself) had speculated that the Big 12 would look to UCF or possibly the combination of UCF and USF for a wide Florida footprint to help recruiting and overall exposure. But it looks like the conference wants to help out West Virginia with some regional partners.
It appears that it might be a done deal with the official announcement coming some time around the end of March Madness, according to ESPN Radio in Nashville and this story from ESPN 92.9.
The trigger likely got pulled on this deal when Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby was faced with the problem of having Co-Champions since his league is the only Power Conference without a conference championship game.
We'll keep an eye on this one as it develops. Unfortunately this took closer to eight weeks than four as we had originally reported.
It happened again Thursday. The Big 12 had another winning night, going 3-1, marking another box on the calendar in which the league has showed well and steadily assembled itself as the best conference in college basketball. Clearly. At least to this point.
You got that right. These guys -- comprised of undefeated Texas, TCU and Oklahoma State, in addition to one-loss Kansas, Baylor, Iowa State, Texas Tech and West Virginia -- they're the best. Not the bloated, top-heavy ACC. Not the surprisingly improved and reliable Big East. And not the perennially balanced Big Ten. Nope, as this very Friday marks three weeks since the season began, the Big 12 has performed better than any league in the country over the past 21 days.
The one game the Big 12 dropped Thursday night shouldn't have even happened that way, either. West Virginia withered at home to a skittish LSU team, blowing a 14-point second half margin. The league could have and should have gone 4-0. If that had happened, it would've made for a 15-0 record over the course of the past six days for the Big one-two.
Instead, 4-1 will do, and that means this 10-team, football-first union is now 59-10 through three weeks of basketball, an .855 win percentage. Better than the other 31 leagues. In recent days the the conference has compiled wins over three ranked teams: Michigan State, UConn and Arkansas. And it's on pace to win the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. (If you weren't aware that made-for-TV event was/is in fact a thing.)
…It's why the Big 12 -- and this is the biggest endorsement you could have at this point in the season -- is ranked No. 1 (fairly comfortably) in KenPom at the moment. By Thursday night seven of the ten squads were slotted 34 or higher, with 5-1 Texas Tech being the only team not in the top 81. Not even in the top 60 at this point? That would be 8-0 TCU, which is off to its best start in 17 years and just swept Mississippi State and Ole Miss away from its home floor.
Ninety percent of the league has earned votes for in both top 25 polls this season, eight of those teams earning that distinction on Monday. The league has lost just one home game, and it became the final league to do so once WVU gave up the ghost Thursday night.
All of this shouldn't be totally shocking when you look at it this way: Six of the 10 coaches from the Big 12 fall in the top 30 among active coaches in wins and win percentage. It's a league with really good guys pacing the sidelines.
…The good news for stumpers of the league is: No matter how Texas plays Friday, the Big 12 should still hold the throne for a while longer, and perhaps for the majority of this season. I mentioned how it had the coaches. It also has the talent. No conference had more players (10) on the Wooden preseason top 50 watch list than the Big 12. Combining that with six coaches owning a Final Four appearance, and each coach having reached the NCAA Tournament, it's all too clearly elbowed away the ACC and Big Ten for boasting rights early and often this season.
Iowa State with an impressive 18-point win over a good Arkansas team. America better watch out when the Cyclones add Jameel McKay.
Not many more versatile players in the country than Iowa State's Georges Niang. 26 points, 8 assists, 6 boards in rout over Arkansas.
Another good win/bad loss for the Big 12/SEC. TCU goes into Oxford and beats Ole Miss. Difficult to imagine SEC getting more than 4 bids.
Parents of Blue Devils players were holding up their keys and taunting the Wisconsin crowd.
“Start up the car,” Okafor’s dad, Chucky, yelled. “Game’s over. Time to go home.”
…Texas at Kentucky: The Longhorns have one of the few frontcourts that can, at the very least, challenge the Wildcats foursome of Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles and Towns. But I still like John Calipari’s squad by double figures. Kentucky 66-53.
For a loaded event like Bluegrass Showcase was, hard for freshman to get chances to entice. Israel Barnes def did so. Early interest from KU.
Bishop Gorman (NV) C Stephen Zimmerman (@BIGG_ZIMM): 18 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST, 5 STL in a 72-28 win vs Douglas. #WildWestShootout @BG_Basketball
12/5/14, 1:09 PM
Coaches from Kansas, Kentucky, Mizzou & more expected tonight at Marshall County Hoop Fest for Malik Newman, Thomas Bryant,Miles Bridges,etc
12/5/14, 12:58 PM
Coaches expected to see Jaylen Brown TOMORROW night: John Calipari, Mark Fox, Brian Gregory, David Grace, Norm Roberts.
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