Ervin will be filling in for freshman guard Kamau Stokes, who went down with a knee injury against Ole Miss.
In his last start, Ervin got into some foul trouble early and didn’t get to play much as his team went down valiantly on the road in double overtime versus Baylor. It was a mistake that Ervin said he is looking to rectify his second time out.
“Don’t do nothing stupid,” Ervin said.
Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self, who has one scholarship player and three walk-ons from the state of Kansas on his 2015-16 roster, makes sure his out-of-state Jayhawks know the history of the Sunflower Showdown.
“We’ve got three guys that weren’t here last year,” Self said of freshmen Carlton Bragg, Cheick Diallo and Lagerald Vick. “That’s only three. They’ll be educated. We’ll look forward to playing,” he added, referring to today’s 8 p.m., contest against Kansas State in Allen Fieldhouse.
…“Those teams are ones that can beat anybody on a given night,” KU sophomore guard Devonté Graham said. “We’ve got to keep pushing. We have to play like it was the Kentucky game (Saturday’s 90-84 overtime win in Allen). We’ve got to work just as hard. You can’t take any teams lightly. We’ve got to come out and do what we do.”
K-State coach Bruce Weber — his teams are 0-3 in Allen and 2-6 overall versus KU — knows it’s a tough task to try to beat a Jayhawks team that has won 35 straight home games and 147 of the last 150.
“Well, there haven’t been many teams who have been successful in there (Allen) except Kansas. They play at such a high level at home. They have such a great crowd there and they feed off that crowd,” said Weber, whose ’Cats have won two straight over Kansas in Manhattan.”
…KU senior forward Hunter Mickelson practiced some on Tuesday and is listed questionable for tonight.
“We have to get back out there and be aggressive and be a tougher team than we’ve been the past few games,” guard Wayne Selden said after the victory over the Wildcats.
It should help Kansas’ intensity that the first game after Kentucky is another breed of Wildcat. Kansas State hasn’t won in Lawrence in a decade, and KU has prevailed in 49 of the previous 54 meetings. But K-State has won two of the last three encounters.
…“We’ve put ourselves in a situation where we have very little margin for error in the league race,” Self said. “I can’t imagine that everybody wouldn’t be amped up to be part of this on Wednesday.”
More than a year has passed since Kansas State won its last Big 12 game on the road.
During that time, the Wildcats have overhauled their roster and Bruce Weber has adjusted his coaching strategy, but the losing streak — 11 and counting — has continued to grow. Weber guided K-State to a 6-3 mark in road conferences his first year. Since then, it has gone 3-19.
It’s a frustrating trend K-State would love to reverse, but the location of its next game doesn’t bode well for a turnaround. The Wildcats take on Kansas on Wednesday at Allen Fieldhouse, an arena where it has lost nine straight and 20 of the last 21.
…“It’s not easy to win on the road anywhere, especially in the Big 12,” junior forward D.J. Johnson said. “Lately, I don’t think we have executed our game plan late in games. Knowing when to start milking the clock when you have a lead is important. We are learning as we go.”
Weber argues K-State would have more road success on its resume if not for a brutal opening Big 12 schedule. The Wildcats haven’t had the benefit of playing at last-place TCU yet, for example.
“I hope it becomes an advantage and we appreciate the schedule maker in the Big 12,” Weber said, “because we have all the top teams in the league on the road in the first half except for Iowa State. Now we get them at home. Were we ready for that? Probably not, but will it help us in the second half? I hope so.”
Self says he has pleaded with his big men to be more active. In the first half against Kentucky, Diallo challenged Alex Poythress at the rim and whiffed, which led to the forward dunking over him.
“But at least he went after it,” Self said. “We need more guys going after it.”
KU’s lack of shot-blocking combined with leaky perimeter defense has resulted in some uncharacteristic defensive numbers.
The Jayhawks rank 144th in block percentage. They’ve never been worse than 87th in Self’s 13 seasons. KU also is 51st in 2-point percentage defense, a stat where Self’s previous KU teams have ranked in the top four nationally (seven times) on more occasions than they haven't (five).
It appears one of two things have to happen for KU to significantly improve: Lucas (four blocks) and Traylor (15 blocks) will need to find a way to provide more resistance inside, or Self will need to change up his rotation to give more opportunities to the talented shot-blockers he has.
“That's a big part of defense is having guys cover up mistakes, and obviously we haven't had that of late,” Self said. “We've got to get better at it.”
You may be aware of the fact that Kansas has won at least a share of a rather remarkable 11 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles. Now, however, the streak appears to be in serious jeopardy. The Jayhawks are a game back of No. 1-ranked Oklahoma and, even worse, that's with the home game against the Sooners already having been played. (It was rather memorable.) KU will visit Norman for the return date on Feb. 13; absent a win there, the thinking goes, Kansas might finish the regular season looking up at a Big 12 rival for the first time since 2003-04.
The thinking is sound enough, but allow me to add two further points for discussion:
First, things never play out the way we think they will. Right now, for example, no one's talking about the fact that KU also is a game back of West Virginia, because the Mountaineers still have to play a game in Lawrence. But if the past is any guide, it's a safe bet that these circled games -- including KU at OU and WVU at KU -- will be far from the only variables in this mix. Unforeseen losses from contenders are a hallmark of competitive title chases.
Second, if Kansas had to pick a season to try to catch a No. 1-ranked team from behind, this is surely the year to do it. With no disrespect at all to Oklahoma, there are sound eyeball and statistical reasons why you would rather be chasing the 2015-16 Sooners than, say, 2014-15 Kentucky. OU is currently outscoring the Big 12 by 0.08 points per possession. That is an impressive level of performance, but it's not a particularly forbidding profile, all things considered.
ESPN Gasaway ($)
The Kentucky at Kansas game on ESPN – as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge presented by Sonic on Saturday, Jan. 30 – generated 2,984,000 viewers, marking the all-time most viewed matchup in the third annual event.
The 90-84 overtime game that saw Kansas top Kentucky was up 40 percent in viewership vs. the event’s previous best, last season’s Texas- Kentucky matchup (2,127,000 viewers) on December 5, 2014.
Louisville gathered the highest-rated market for the Kentucky-Kansas matchup, bringing in a 19.9 overnight rating, followed by Kansas City (10.1); Knoxville (6.8); Cincinnati (6.1) and Nashville (4.9).
Across all ESPN networks, viewership for the Big 12/SEC Challenge is up 46 percent vs. the 2014 Challenge (846,000 vs. 579,000 viewers) and up 61 percent vs. the 2013 event (846,000 vs. 525,000 viewers). The 2015 event marks the first time the games were staged on a common-bye date during the conference season, matching all 10 of the Big 12 members against 10 teams from the Southeastern Conference. All the games aired across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
he Kentucky-Kansas game also recorded WatchESPN’s third most-watched NCAA men’s basketball game ever, attracting an additional 59,000 average minute impressions to the TV audience.
Additionally, the Big 12/SEC Challenge presented by Sonic on Saturday, Jan. 30 saw 219,000 unique viewers that watched 9.1 million total minutes, ranking as the fourth highest NCAA men’s basketball game ever for WatchESPN.
For the third straight season, the Big 12 won the Big 12/SEC Challenge, capturing seven of 10 matchups in 2016. In 2014, the Big 12 won six of 10 matchups and in 2013, posted a 7-3 mark.
Well, the super fan, whose real name is Laurence Leavy, made his way to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday for some college basketball. Marlins Man might not have constantly appeared on TV for Kansas vs. Kentucky, but he sat courtside and apparently left blown away by the KU experience.
Here is the video Marlins Man posted on his Facebook page:
…As for his commentary on the fieldhouse? This is what the almighty Marlins Man had to offer in his post:
I need to tell everyone that last Saturday night was probably the best basketball experience I have ever been to.
I have been to a LOT of basketball games. 70 NBA Finals games and over 200 NBA playoff games.
This was non stop energy, passion, excitement. And throughout the game the fans acted like fans might do at the end of a classic game. These fans acted that way the ENTIRE night. Never ever seen that before.
Plus it’s an old school stadium. No chair back seats. Simply bench seats throughout. I was so excited that I forgot to make a Marlins Man Media Moment. Never happened before.
Just watch this small video clip. (Now) imagine it was like this for 3 solid hours. Plus the game went into overtime.
ALLEN FIELD HOUSE ROCKS. I can’t wait to back again. Btw, I never knew that basketball was invented in Mass., and then the inventor became the coach of Kansas, and he wrote the Rules of Basketball, and that someone paid over 4 million dollars for them. They were returned to Kansas that night at a ceremony. AMAZING.
"He is the main focus of our offense moving forward, we know that," Watson said of Morris, who'd spent more time on the bench than on the floor all year. "That's part of talking about your role with this team, he went out there every play and that was his role, to lead us. He accepted that."
Tarik Black hasn't played a lot for the Los Angeles Lakers this season, but the man known affectionately as "Boom Boom" exploded onto the scene for the team in their 119-115 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night. The Lakers have generally functioned better during Black's limited minutes this season, which is why he boasts the team's best offensive rating (the Lakers have scored 101.5 points per 100 possessions while Black is on the floor), second best defensive rating (98.7) and best net rating (2.2).
…As Bryant said, Tarik changed the game for the Lakers on Tuesday night. He should be given more chances to do so going forward.
During the contest’s final stretch, Bryant dueled with Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota’s 20-year-old reigning Rookie of the Year. Wiggins buried a late turnaround jumper over Bryant; cameras then caught him telling Bryant, “I got that from you.”
This time, Bryant had an answer. He wasn’t left helplessly patting Wiggins on the back, like he did with Dirk Nowitzki after the Mavericks forward hit a game-winner earlier this month. He wasn’t forced to settle for autographing his sneakers after a big loss, like he did for Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. On this night, Bryant laughed last, sinking a signature jumper of his own with 26 seconds left to give L.A. a three-point lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“He’s the greatest of my generation,” said Wiggins, who scored a team-high 30 points on 13-of-20 shooting. “He perfected the game of basketball.”
Andrew Wiggins has become one of the most electrifying dunkers in the NBA, but don't look for him to challenge Minnesota Timberwolves teammate Zach LaVine, the reigning Verizon Slam Dunk champion, any time soon.
"My story is, I lost in high school, right when I was in the McDonald's [All-]American Game, so I really don't do ... dunks anymore," Wiggins said during an interview with ESPN.com. "I kind of retired that back, left that in high school, so I don't really do it anymore.
"Right now, you can give it to him [LaVine]. I won't be doing all the surprise dunks. I just keep it simple -- one hand, two hands."
NBA All-Star Weekend is in Wiggins' hometown of Toronto, and Wiggins, last season's rookie of the year, will play in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 12 along with teammate Karl-Anthony Towns.
During the interview, Towns joked with Wiggins, "They want you in that [dunk] contest bad."
“The game’s history comes through Lawrence. Every road in the game leads here — every single road,” Jay Bilas said. “Rupp played here. Dean Smith played here. Phog Allen coached here. Naismith was the first coach; he invented the game.”
“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
Iowa State’s Hilton Magic seems to be losing some of its power.
No. 14 West Virginia harassed Iowa State with its trademark in-your-face defense and dominated the rebounding in beating the 13th-ranked Cyclones 81-76 on Tuesday night.
It was Iowa State’s second loss in less than four weeks at Hilton Coliseum, where the Cyclones have posted a long string of big victories through the years and have been practically unbeatable the last three.
They were up 15 points in the first half and led by five with a little more than 3 minutes left but couldn’t hold on.
“We’ve got a great team, a great coaching staff. We’ve just got to finish,” Iowa State’s Monte Morris said. “We’ve finished before. I don’t think it’s the end of the world. We have a lot of games left. We’ll just keep working and try to get better every day.”
No. 1 Oklahoma 95, TCU 72: With Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant on hand, Buddy Hield scored 17 points to help No. 1 Oklahoma defeat visiting TCU.
Hield, the nation’s No. 2 scorer, was held well below his 26.0 average, but he shot an efficient 7 for 13 from the field and made 3 of 8 3-point attempts as the 2014 NBA MVP and four-time scoring champion watched. Hield was coming off consecutive games with at least 30 points.
Jordan Woodard scored 14 points, Isaiah Cousins had 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and Ryan Spangler had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Sooners (19-2, 7-2 Big 12), who won their fourth straight.
Vladimir Brodziansky scored 17 points, Chris Washburn had 15 and Malique Trent added 12 for TCU (10-12, 1-8), which lost its sixth straight conference game.
…Kevin Punter Jr. scored 27 points and Armani Moore added 18 points and 13 rebounds as Tennessee erased a 21-point deficit to beat visiting No. 20 Kentucky, 84-77, in men’s college basketball Tuesday night.
Tennessee’s comeback represented a stunning turn of events for a team that had lost its last two games despite leading by at least 14 points in the second half of each. The Volunteers (11-11, 4-5 Southeastern Conference) trailed 34-13 with less than 6 minutes left in the first half.
This marked the second straight defeat for Kentucky (16-6, 6-3). The Wildcats fell 90-84 in overtime Saturday at No. 7 Kansas, which was ranked fourth at the time.
The score was tied 70-all until Robert Hubbs III made a free throw with 5:04 left to start a 7-0 run that put Tennessee ahead for good. Kentucky couldn’t cut the margin below three points the rest of the way.
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