KUAD: Kansas @ Oklahoma State Pregame Notes
Kansas University senior Jamari Traylor, who took a shot to the head and right eye by teammate Cheick Diallo while playing defense in Saturday’s game, did not have a concussion and did not suffer any bone fractures in his face.
Kansas coach Bill Self said Traylor practiced Sunday, as did junior Brannen Greene, whose leg was bothering him in Saturday’s game. Both should be able to play Tuesday at OSU.
“We’ve got to come with a whole different mindset,” Mason said. “We’ve lost the first two at Oklahoma State since I’ve been here. I think coach Self is 3-5 since he’s been here. We want to get on a roll and start winning.”
I felt like I'd written a similar Quick Scout to this one recently, and it turns out I had. Oklahoma State, in many ways, is like a slightly worse version of Texas Tech.
Some of the similarities are uncanny. Both teams have good rim protection, draw fouls often and shoot free throws well and are poor at 3-point shooting, defensive rebounding and allowing 3-pointers.
So much like that road game (one KU ended up winning 69-59), it's tough for me to pick which side I want to be on the spread.
One unknown is KU's 3-point shooting frequency. Odds are OSU will throw a zone at the Jayhawks, and oftentimes that can be beaten with ball movement and open outside shots. As we know, though, KU can sometimes forget about those outside shots when the game gets tight. One reason for KU's earlier success at Texas Tech was a high number of attempts (22) and makes (nine) from 3-point range.
The other big unknown is KU's fouling. The Jayhawks have allowed the third-worst free throw rate in the conference since league play began, and KU's guards have been a step slow in the last few games in particular. Do that against Evans and Newberry, and surrending 40 free throws isn't out of the question.
In the end, the spread looks about right to me. I'll give the slight edge to OSU on the line just because I think it should be able to draw fouls against KU, but I still see the Jayhawks getting a similar road victory to what they earned in Lubbock.
Kansas 78, Oklahoma State 70
Jesse's pick to cover spread: Oklahoma State
TCJ Quick Scout
Bill Self gathered his players this week to discuss a topic that had nothing to do with play execution or defensive assignments.
Instead, it had to do with their enthusiasm.
“Basketball is supposed to be a game that’s played with great energy and it’s supposed to be a fun game to play,” Self said, “and we haven’t acted like it’s a fun game to play this last week.”
KU’s past two outings — a 74-63 loss to West Virginia and 70-63 victory over TCU — have missed something. Self believes his team has been a quarter-step off of its normal pace, which would have allowed the Jayhawks to play much better in both contests.
“I think every team goes through it through the year. It’s a long year,” Self said. “We looked fatigued the last two games, to be real candid.”
No team has solved the Jayhawks recently like the Cowboys, with OSU the only squad to beat Kansas each of the past three seasons. At Gallagher-Iba, the Cowboys have won two straight over KU and four of the last six.
In this three-years-running streak, an unranked OSU was a decided underdog in every meeting, although never more mismatched than Tuesday night, when the No. 3 Jayhawks return to GIA for a 6 p.m. tip. The Cowboys, 9-8 overall, enter at 1-4 in the Big 12, on a four-game losing streak and in danger of falling to .500 on the season.
Still, against the Jayhawks, there's a tangible feel, look and taste of what it takes to win.
“Just another opportunity to beat a great team,” Newberry said. “We always have a good game with these guys.”
…This OSU team, meanwhile, doesn't have a Marcus Smart or Markel Brown or Le'Bryan Nash like the past three squads that took down the Jayhawks. Doesn't even have Phil Forte.
Beyond the injured Forte, all the remaining Cowboys have combined to total just 21 career points against KU. And Newberry accounts for 14 of those.
But then, it was a similar storyline a week ago, when OSU looked overmatched before battling in a dramatic 74-72 loss to now-No. 1 Oklahoma. The Cowboys responded that night, as did a large and loud Gallagher-Iba crowd.
It'll take that, and maybe more, to stretch the streak against Kansas.
“I got the experience of rush-the-court last year,” Newberry said. “It's a great feeling. I'm trying to get these young guys ready to experience that.”
Riding a four-game losing streak, the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team welcomes another highly-ranked opponent into Gallahger-Iba Arena on Tuesday night.
…When the Gallagher-Iba Arena crowd is rocking, the Cowboys play better as last week’s Bedlam game showed. The “rowdiest arena in the country” has helped the Cowboys knock off some highly-ranked opponents over the years, but will there be enough Pokes fans in the stands Tuesday night?
The Cowboys hope so.
Stillwater News Press
Self is the first to admit that his teams will play with more energy when shots fall — a habit that he loathes. He also makes a distinction between effort and energy. The Jayhawks’ effort level has been adequate, Self says, but their energy has been lacking.
“Energy is contagious,” Self said, offering a non-scientific breakdown of the differences. “You’re lighter on your feet. A lot of guys try real hard, but if you don’t that bounce and that energy, you never look quite as quick.”
In college basketball, slumps can be relative, of course, and Oklahoma State Travis Ford would love to own some of these Kansas problems. The Cowboys enter Tuesday night with a 9-8 record, losers of four straight, and Ford says the Jayhawks look like “a team that could win a national championship.”
“I’ve not seen too many teams that are better than Kansas right now, as far as a whole,” Ford added.
First, though, the Jayhawks must re-find the form that marked their rise in December and early January. For Self, the short answer begins with one word: Energy.
“It’s not a huge concern,” Self said. “It’s just something that everyone deals with. And hopefully we’ll get ours out of the way now and have much more energy for the stretch run.”
KC Star via The Oklahoman
The numbers back up the idea that this is a better Kansas team than the ones Oklahoma State has beaten in recent seasons. The Jayhawks’ rank ninth in adjusted defensive efficiency — an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions against the average Division-1 unit — and 17th on the offensive end. Right now, they’re the most efficient KU team on offense since the 2009-10 Jayhawks team that went 15-1 in the Big 12.
They also have the experience. Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis have each started 88 games in their Kansas careers.
Oklahoma State’s starting five on Saturday at Texas — Jawun Evans, Newberry, Jeffrey Carroll, Leyton Hammonds and Solomon — have 98 career starts total. Newberry is the only healthy player on the Cowboys roster with more than 20 career starts.
For every place Kansas is trending upward, OSU appears headed in the other direction. At 9-8, it’s OSU’s worst start since 2011-12 — its last losing season. The Cowboys have not beaten a Big 12 team other than TCU since beating Baylor on Feb. 9, 2015. They’re 2-10 since, with both wins over the Horned Frogs.
“It doesn’t matter who you play,” Ford said. “We better play at a very extremely high level individually, which, in turn, makes a collective group. We need every individual playing to the highest ability they have in their body, which in turn makes us a better team.”
The Cowboys have lost four straight in the Big 12 and project to finish somewhere in the bottom half of the league. To be fair, Oklahoma State has started with a grueling portion of the schedule. They have already traveled to West Virginia, Baylor and Texas while playing host to Oklahoma. The only conference victory came against TCU at home. With Forte likely out for the season — in hopes of securing a medical redshirt — the Cowboys’ issue have largely been on offense. They rank 124th nationally in offensive efficiency and are shooting just 33 percent from three-point range. “We’re just playing in spurts too much right now,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “We need to try to figure out how to put a 40-minute game together.”
Watching Bill Self search for the right big-man mix has been so compelling that a lesser, yet still real concern has escaped the spotlight.
KU’s perimeter depth hasn’t quite matched preseason expectations. Junior Brannen Greene and sophomore Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk have had their moments, but both players need to take a step forward soon, make their impact felt in a louder way, a way that could result in more rest for Frank Mason III.
Sure, Greene has shot 60 percent from three-point range, but Kansas could use more than the 4.6 points per game he has scored in conference play. He also needs to secure the basketball better. In 67 minutes in Big 12 games, Greene has committed eight turnovers and eight personal fouls and has had at least one of each in all five games.
Mykhailiuk, 18, has improved significantly, runs the floor well, keeps the ball moving and has become a driving threat. He has shown signs of improving as a three-point shooter, but still isn’t knocking them down nearly as well in games (.339 percentage) as in practice. Against quick teams, he tends to pile up fouls quickly.
It’s time for Greene, Svi, or both to come up big tonight in Stillwater.
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Big 12/College News
League presidents and athletic directors will meet Feb. 4-5. The viability of a league championship game — ridiculous as it is from a competitive standpoint with just 10 members — figures to be a topic, along with the potential revenue such a game could generate.
A ballpark estimate is $30 million, though the league’s network partners might shy away from that mark considering the lack of a conference championship did not greatly diminish fees paid in the current rights agreement.
Discussion regarding television matters should put Big 12 administrators on point to address overall programming. In particular, any desire to repurpose the Longhorn Television Network and other third-tier packages into a Big 12 Network.
Of course, that means playing nice with Texas, which possesses the one vote that matters for the conference to have a network. Such a network would enable the Big 12 to build off branding a unified entity within the Power 5.
Without it, any other move could be like rearranging chairs on the Titanic.
Big 12 expansion, for the sake of expansion, is silly. A Big 12 football title game, for the sake of a title game, is silly. A Big 12 Network, and what it would provide the conference in terms of branding and solidarity, is smart.
That puts Texas in its customary position of power, even with a new administration.
Oklahoma was announced as the nation's new No. 1 team Monday afternoon at 1:31 ET.
The top-ranked Sooners lost roughly nine hours later.
So college basketball might have yet another new No. 1 next week -- either North Carolina or Kansas. Or maybe even Villanova. And that is this season in a nutshell.
The best teams are vulnerable.
All of them.
They can beat anybody and lose whenever.
"Oh baby ... what a game!" Brent Musburger, the iconic ESPN play-by-play announcer, yelled in the final minutes of Monday night's back-and-forth affair between Oklahoma and Iowa State. And, by now, you know how things ended.
Final score: No. 19 Iowa State 82, No. 1 Oklahoma 77.
Are Big Mondays exhausting or what?
…So Kansas, West Virginia and Baylor are now tied for first in the Big 12 standings.
And Iowa State hosts Kansas next Monday.
If trite sports clichés were a mountain, they'd elevate like Everest, and way up there, above the clouds, at Mt. Cliché's snowy peak, one cliché would stand above all:
One game at a time.
It might be the most ubiquitous idiom in sports, which in turn makes it the easiest to not even hear in the first place.
At least until a night like Monday, and until a player like Georges Niang is at the podium. Until this typically verbose fourth-year senior is asked about his role in Iowa State's first upset of a No. 1-ranked team since 1957, and how he feels about a thrilling, nail-biting victory over a newly crowned Oklahoma team with the Wooden Award front-runner in its ranks. Until he's asked what it's like to exist at the nexus of Hilton Coliseum as a 59-year streak is wiped away. But all the usually verbose Niang can think about is how many more times his team will have to do the same thing again.
"It's up there, but we've got bigger goals for this year," Niang said Monday night. "Right now I'm just trying to take it one game at a time. We've got plenty more games in the Big 12. We've got a lot more work left to do."
And then, all of a sudden, it hits you: In the 2015-16 Big 12, "one game at a time" isn't a throwaway line. In college basketball's best, most entertaining and most stress-inducing league, "one game at a time" is the only sane way to live.
…The numbers back this up. Nine of the Big 12's 10 teams rank among the top 100 in ESPN’s Basketball Power Index. Eight rank in the top 50. Ken Pomeroy's adjusted efficiency metrics mirror this ratio; five Big 12 teams (Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Iowa State and Baylor) are in the top 20.
The Big 12 is likely to produce more exciting games -- according to the BPI's "matchup quality" metric, which quantifies two teams' potential to produce a well-played thriller -- than any other league. And it isn't particularly close.
There's been plenty of discussion so far this season about how there's no dominant teams like we saw a year ago in the mold of Kentucky, Wisconsin or Duke , but the overall parity level of the sport has reached new heights.
No. 19 Iowa State's 82-77 win over No. 1 Oklahoma on Monday at Hilton Coliseum was the fifth time this season that a top-ranked team was beaten and that's only a precursor for what people should expect in March during the NCAA Tournament.
If rankings mean this little in January, you better believe that they'll mean just as little in March when seeds take center stage during the field of 68.
This is the type of season where two No. 4 seeds, a No. 5 seed, and a No. 7 seed could reach the Final Four.
The unexpected becoming the ordinary?
You better believe it.
…The most impressive part of Auburn's win over Kentucky on Saturday? The Tigers did it without two of their projected perimeter starters -- T.J. Dunans (knee injury) and Danjel Purifoy (ineligible) -- as well as reserve guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen (shoulder).
…We're officially just 54 days away from Selection Sunday -- it's coming folks.
This wasn’t hard to see coming from a long way away. It was hazy on the horizon in November, then looming over Duke the moment Amile Jefferson went down. Duke was unavoidably going to struggle at some point this season. That moment has arrived.
Having lost three in a row for the first time since 2007, accepting the inevitability of it all doesn’t make it any easier for Duke to stomach. On the contrary, losing all three games with a chance to win in the final minute makes it all the more cruel, which was unquestionably the case in Monday’s 64-62 loss to Syracuse.
So the cold, dark days of winter are here, as they were always going to be, with inexperienced starters and a shallow bench and a point guard who would, under other circumstances, still be in high school. It was going to be a difficult slog through the ACC even before Jefferson was hurt, a catastrophic loss.
The slog is on, one game after another, Duke’s players looking more and more exhausted with each one, without another home game for almost three weeks. How Duke responds to this will determine not only how long these dark days last, but where the Blue Devils end up this season.
3. Duke, as a ranked team, losing to three consecutive unranked opponents. The last time that happened was 1968. Mike Krzyzewski was a 21-year-old Army cadet. The Blue Devils allowed Syracuse 26 offensive rebounds, entered Monday’s play 191st in the country in field goal percentage defense, and now are on the brink of falling out of the AP poll after 166 consecutive weeks, the sixth longest streak in history. They miss the inside work of injured Amile Jefferson like flowers miss water. "The game is tremendous, and it can be incredibly great to you, and it can be incredibly cruel to you," Krzyzewski said. "And right now, we're going through the cruel part."
4. Iowa State beating a No. 1 opponent for the first time since 1957. The victim back then was Kansas and its center was Wilt Chamberlain. These current Cyclones are the same bunch that started 1-3 in the Big 12, but so it has gone in a stacked conference that seems to have a classic game every 72 hours or so. ``You can’t live in the highs and lows,’’ coach Steve Prohm said at his press conference Monday night. ``This league’s too good.’’
NCAA: 15 Reasons Why This Season is Crazy
Yes, Oklahoma lost late Monday. But the Sooners, in my opinion, still have the nation's best resume. And, because of that, Lon Kruger's team remains No. 1 in the Top 25 (and one).
OU is 15-2 with five top-50 KenPom wins -- including victories over Villanova, West Virginia and Iowa State. And the Sooners' only losses are a 3OT loss at Kansas and a close loss at Iowa State, meaning their only losses are competitive losses at two of the hardest places to win in college basketball.
Meantime, Kansas has comparable losses but fewer top-50 wins. North Carolina has worse losses and fewer top-50 wins. Villanova has comparable losses -- although one of the losses is a 23-point loss to Oklahoma on a neutral-court -- but fewer top-50 wins. And though there's an interesting case to be made for Xavier, which, like Oklahoma, has five top-50 wins, the Musketeers still have a 31-point loss to Villanova that means they can't match Oklahoma in the competitive-loss category.
So I'm sticking with Oklahoma at No. 1.
Two of the most influential basketball coaches in the Big 12 have differing opinions on the new, player-friendly NBA Draft rules announced by the NCAA last week.
“It is a great, great, great first step,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
But West Virginia coach Bob Huggins disagree.
“Sometimes we make rules that are good for individuals that aren’t good for the whole,” he said. “I thought we should always do what is right for the whole team.”
…Self advises young players on their NBA hopes more than any other Big 12 coach, and approved of the changes.
“You are still going to have kids that go regardless of what everybody tells them,” Self said Monday on the Big 12 teleconference. “You are still going to have that, but hopefully not as many. Maybe after this is tested for a year or two and we find out how it is working, some advanced steps can be made by the NBA, if it is working for them, that will help the kids even further.
“I don’t see a negative with it at all. I think what we had before was broken.”
The new rules are certainly a positive change for college basketball players, but they might make life harder on coaches. Now they will need to plan for all contingencies and be ready to recruit late to make up for players that remain in the draft.
Huggins took the opposite stance for those reasons.
“I think it puts the other 12 guys at a disadvantage,” Huggins said, referring to each team’s 13 scholarship players. “It’s great if the guy comes back. If the guy doesn’t come back, it’s probably too late to fill that spot. Or do you fill it anticipating he leaves?”
Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said he understands both sides, but from a coach’s perspective, he wishes the NCAA created new recruiting rules to counter the uncertainty of NBA Draft hopefuls.
He suggested boosting the scholarship limit to 14 and allowing players to return to college after the draft, should they go unselected.
“It is very, very hard on the coach, especially if you go through it every year or several years in a row,” Weber said, “because you don’t know who your team is. Do you recruit a guy or do you not? Is he coming back? But I appreciate it for the kids’ sake, because so many kids make bad decisions and don’t listen to the right people. Hopefully, it will help there.”
“It’s been very positive,” said Gavitt, the son of basketball legend Dave Gavitt and also a former graduate assistant for former Texas coach Rick Barnes at Providence. “We’ve had over 25 new rules, which are as many as we’ve had since the ’80s, and they’ve had a positive impact on the game. It’s moving in the right direction.”
The intent of the rules was to increase the pace of play, balance offense and defense better and cut out much of the physical play.
The rules just don’t go far enough.
…• Nationalize officiating for consistency. A 24-second shot clock should become uniform for all levels of basketball, including the NBA, because ESPN basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla says “kids over there (in Europe) have been playing with a 24-second clock from the time they’re 14 years old.”
• Perhaps a truly national starting day, say, on a Tuesday before the November football weekend. Toy with moving the season back to avoid publicity and exposure conflict with football, and even Fraschilla’s “pretty crazy idea of a preseason tournament with the best 16 teams.”
All strong ideas.
But a return to a more stylized, free-flowing, entertaining game is the biggest priority.
“I think by and large, the rules are doing what they were intended to do,” Fraschilla said. “I think the shot clock is nearly meaningless because the average possession in college games is 17 or 18 seconds. So that hasn’t been a big factor.”
Franschilla does embrace the elimination of one timeout and the ban on coaches calling timeouts from the sidelines. Both of those changes help put the game in the hands of the players and not the control-freak coaches who want to micro-manage games.
Big 12 Composite Schedule & Results
Michael Porter, a 6-8 junior from Tolton Catholic in Columbia, Missouri, scored 35 points and grabbed 22 rebounds in Saturday’s 58-53 victory over Blue Valley Northwest at the Best of the Midwest Showcase at Johnson County Community College. Earlier in the day, the No. 3-rated player in the Class of 2017 attended the KU-TCU game.
“Greatest venue in college basketball. I saw that today,” Porter told reporters after the game at JCCC.
He plans to attend the KU-Kentucky game on Jan. 30 with Trae Young, a 6-1 junior from Norman (Oklahoma) North who is ranked No. 26 in the Class of 2017.
Udoka Azubuike, a 6-11 senior center from Potter’s House Christian in Jacksonville, Florida, did not announce his choice on Sunday at the Hoop Hall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts, as originally planned.
Kansas University assistant basketball coach Jerrance Howard was in attendance Sunday as Azubuike, the No. 27-ranked player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, scored six points with nine rebounds in a loss to Westtown (Pennsylvania) School. Mohamed Bamba, a 6-11 junior, had 13
points, 16 rebounds and 10 blocks for the winning team. He’s ranked No. 5 in the Class of 2017.
“Really not surprised that Udoka Azubuike will pass on announcing today. Behind scenes sounds like there have been many changes of heart,” tweeted Eric Bossi of Rivals.com.
Maryland's pursuit of one of the nation’s top high school basketball players in the Class of 2016 is starting to resemble the team's recruitment of one of the top players from 2015, which could be good news for coach Mark Turgeon.
Josh Jackson, the 6-foot-7, 195-pound wing from Detroit rated the No. 1 prospect in the country, told InsideMDSports.com over the weekend that he plans on taking an official visit to College Park before announcing his college choice.
It was previously believed that the Terps were out of the running and that Jackson, who is now playing for Prolific Prep in California, was deciding between Michigan State and Arizona. He also reportedly is considering Kansas and UNLV.
A year ago, Maryland was considered something of a long shot to land Diamond Stone, who many
believed would play for hometown school Wisconsin or go to Connecticut. Oklahoma State also was involved with the 6-11 center from Milwaukee.
Interestingly, Stone is trying to help recruit Jackson to Maryland whether or not he returns for his sophomore year.
“I’ve got a real good relationship with Diamond Stone,” Jackson told InsideMDSports.com. “I’ve talked with him a lot. He really likes it. He tells me that if I did go there, I wouldn’t regret it. Coach Turgeon would let me play my game.”