I have to start with a couple of thoughts from the Kansas-Kentucky game. It’s pretty amazing, but hardly surprising, that when the regular season is over, we’ll probably look back and say the best two games of the season were played in Allen Fieldhouse.
Obviously, the disparity in fouls was a huge factor in Kansas’s win. The Jayhawks shot poorly (30–47) from the stripe, but they still outscored the Wildcats by 17 points from the line. Before you all start carping about the home-cooked officiating, consider that Perry Ellis missed most of the first half because he picked up two early fouls, and Bill Self went to a triangle-and-two midway through the second half, which curtailed Kentucky’s ability to score off penetration and get offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, even as Kentucky’s frontcourt players were fouling like mad, John Calipari refused to go to a zone. As a result, four Wildcats fouled out. By overtime, the Wildcats were severely undermanned.
Give Self credit for making the critical in-game adjustment, and pass the word to Calipari that he needs to get a decent zone in his arsenal and be ready to use it if he’s in that situation again.
SI Seth Davis
LJW Tait: The Day After
“I don’t think I’ll ever play in an atmosphere like I played in tonight,” Selden said. “I feel like, ‘How does it get any better?’ I don’t know how it gets any better than this atmosphere it was tonight.”
It remains to be seen if KU can build on the victory and improve on its 5-3 league start, which includes a 1-3 mark in road games.
…Selden’s hustle play to begin overtime set the tone for a session in which KU outscored Kentucky, 14-8 (which included a meaningless three by Ulis at the buzzer). Selden flew into the stands chasing a loose ball in the backcourt on the opening possession. He flung the basketball high in the air, KU gaining possession on offense thanks to the save.
“That just gets the place going, plays like that,” Selden said. “Usually you don’t want to save the ball on the opponent’s side (of court), but I knew my guys. Throw it up in the air, and I know somebody’s going to get it. Throw a 50/50 ball up in the air, and Perry (Ellis) got it.”
…Self was asked if he’d like to play Kentucky every year, considering the programs are the top two programs in all-time victories (UK has 2,194, KU 2,170).
“The Big 12/SEC Challenge ... I don’t know what they’ll do, but I would assume Cal will definitely say, ‘They’re coming back to our place next year.’ I don’t think he’ll pass on that one,” Self said.
No announcement has yet been made, but it’s assumed KU will return the trip to Rupp Arena in Lexington next season.
“To have us play home and home in a year we don’t play the Champions or Big 12/SEC? I’d be good with that. Cal will play anybody. You look at our schedule. We’ll play about anybody. Our league is so good. When you are playing a top 25 RPI game every (league) game also, those games (KU-UK) sound all great. I’d love to do it. If we did, I’d definitely not do some other things we’re trying to do now (regarding playing difficult teams on slate).”
"You probably watch the game and say it's a hell of a game. I'm sick to my stomach," Calipari said.
It was a hell of a game, John. As the 90-84 overtime win for the Jayhawks played out, the question sort of just sat with me for most of the second half and overtime.
Why, exactly, aren't these programs scheduling each other every year?
The teams started their series in 1950. For the next 18 years, they played only once. Then, from 1969 until 1985, they played every year except in 1970. There was a fleeting home-and-home revival in '89 and '90. It's been irregular ever since. Kentucky, surprisingly, leads the all-time series between these teams at 22-7. The fact they've only played 29 times despite 230 seasons between them, it boggles the mind.
College basketball might not need it, but there's no question the sport would be enhanced by a yearly regeneration of something that could return to an earned status of "rivalry." In the past 25 years, the Jayhawks and Wildcats have played only nine times. It's an (albeit minor) crime against the sport. Self got his second career win against Calipari on Saturday night. The first one came in eerily similar fashion some years back. Remember how that one played out? It was a game wherein Kansas trailed often, rallied late, forced overtime and pulled away once the game got there. Also, Calipari's team was awful from the foul line.
Yeah, you remember: the 2008 national championship game.
Kind of neat how Jan. 30, 2016, had reflective qualities to April 7, 2008. These kind of storylines help sell the sport, usher in more attention and create more buzz. Before March, college hoops is always thirsty for that kind of pub.
…"The programs are so similar," Calipari said. "Kansas fans ever rush the court? Like, at Kentucky, if we beat the Lakers at the buzzer from half-court, banked in, they would never run. These fans are the same. I go to a lot of places. The respect here, like our fans ..."
And on he went, as Cal does in his pressers. He is right. The programs are fraternal. I hope Calipari can see that both fan bases deserve each other, deserve a true home-and-home sandwiching the Champions Classic. All the boxes can be checked here.
It wasn't too long ago that the name "Mario Chalmers" brought about all the wrong kind of emotions from Memphians. He hit "the shot". It was HIS fault (not really, but still) that the beloved Memphis Tigers did not win a national championship. He was a LeBron James crony in Miami with the Heat…
"Wait, no, screw him, he played for Kansas and beat Memphis. He deserves it! I could never cheer for Mario Chalmers..."
That was said a lot of good hearted folks before Chalmers was traded to Memphis. The fact that the trade sent a son of Memphis in Jarnell Stokes and an adopted son of Memphis in Beno Udrih to the Miami Heat only fueled the fire that many felt toward Mario. Grizzlies fans, perhaps even more so than most franchises, latch on to players and take them in as their own (see Randolph, Zach and Allen, Tony). It seemed unlikely that Mario Chalmers would ever achieve that.
As time has gone on, however, something funny has happened. Chalmers has not only become accepted by Grizzlies fans, he in fact is viewed as perhaps the most important upcoming free agent not named Mike Conley on the roster.
Scot Pollard is coming to a small (and big) screen near you. The former Kansas Jayhawks star -- who also spent 11 seasons in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics -- is one of 18 castaways competing on the 32nd season of “Survivor,” beginning Feb. 17 on CBS.
This season, "Survivor: Kaoh Rong," is a reboot of the Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty format. Although the colorful, 6-foot-11 Pollard might put himself in all three categories, he competed on Team Brawn when the show was taped last spring in Cambodia.
Pollard has also wrapped up production on a movie he produced, helped write and starred in called “The Association” that he hopes to get screened in film festivals this fall.
“I get the same reaction when people found out,” said Pollard, who was known during his playing days to change his look from mohawks to dying his hair to sporting a Fu Manchu mustache. “People who know me were not surprised.”
“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
This week, only Oklahoma—one of three teams tied at the top— and Kansas (a game back) play two games against the league’s bottom four teams.
The Sooners (18-2, 6-2 Big 12) host TCU on Tuesday before traveling to Kansas State on Saturday.
The Horned Frogs are 1-7 in the league while Kansas State is 2-6.
Baylor and West Virginia, the two teams tied with Oklahoma atop the standings, each play teams that are a game behind the lead early in the week before playing each other in Morgantown on Saturday.
The Bears host Texas on Monday while West Virginia plays at Iowa State on Tuesday.
On Saturday, Texas hosts Texas Tech while Iowa State plays in Stillwater against Oklahoma State.
Kansas, like the Longhorns and Cyclones a game behind the leaders, host Kansas State on Wednesday before traveling to TCU on Saturday.
February has come, which means it’s time for college basketball to get real.
While the season may not be at the frenzied level of March Madness just yet, the games will increase in both importance and intensity. The overlap with college football has gone and so has January positioning. The conference races will be in the stretch drive.
With the Big 12’s 7-3 edge in Saturday’s Big 12/SEC Challenge as a convenient season divider as well as the calendar, here are four things to consider in the conference’s stretch drive.
1. Little NCAA suspense. Expect six teams solidly into the NCAA Tournament field when Selection Sunday arrives.
Not five or seven but six: Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State and Texas. Each is in the top 22 of the NCAA’s official RPI released Sunday. Barring a remarkable collapse, they’re in.
The biggest realization: the total absence of a bubble. Barring any improbable runs, it’s hard to see anybody else from the conference finding a spot in the final bracket.
2. Texas looks different. The change isn’t just stylistically, from Rick Barnes to Shaka Smart, although that’s played a part.
For the past few years, Texas has invariably hit an invisible wall somewhere about this time. Now Texas (14-7, 5-3 Big 12) has won five of six going into a Big Monday game at Baylor. Texas is playing with more enthusiasm and confidence. Center Prince Ibeh, filling in for injured Cam Ridley, has put together back-to-back double-doubles.
Texas may have to get even better. Seven of its final 10 regular-season opponents are ranked, including two games with No. 1 Oklahoma.
“The really good thing is, we don’t have to play them all at the same time,” Smart told reporters Saturday after a win over Vanderbilt.
3. Buddy Hield is your player of the year front-runner. Actually, the Oklahoma senior guard has held that status since his 46-point performance at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 4.
His 32-point performance against LSU - which has its own star in freshman Ben Simmons - only confirmed everyone’s opinion. Hield is the unquestioned star of the current No. 1 team. He is enjoying one of the best shooting seasons in recent memory, connecting 52.8 percent of his shots from the field and 52.4 percent on 3-pointers. This week, comparisons even surfaced to Steph Curry.
He seems to be an engaging young man who has worked very hard on improving his game in four years at Oklahoma. It’s an easy story to like.
4. Who is the real Baylor? The Bears (17-4, 6-2) are tied for the conference lead with Oklahoma and West Virginia.
With seniors Taurean Prince, Rico Gathers and Lester Medford, the Bears have chemistry and a lot to like. Baylor leads the nation in assists per game and ranks in the top 10 in rebounding margin.
But a team that won at Iowa State also lost by 28 at Kansas and by 19 at Texas A&M. At times, like the start of the second half against Georgia, Baylor can look dominant. Then it can drift for key stretches.
Right now, the Bears could get back to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time under Scott Drew or lose their opening round game, like they did last season vs. Georgia State. Neither would be a huge surprise.
Dallas Morning News
The woman was a Kansas fan, of course.
She wore a KU pullover that had the Jayhawk logo stitched on her left breast and she sat comfortably in a chair just a floor above the entrance to the Phog. She was working on game day inside Allen Fieldhouse, an unbeknownst sign of her fandom.
It was Saturday, Jan. 30, and Kansas was set to face Kentucky in the primetime showcase of the 2015-16 Big 12/SEC challenge — an event Missouri wasn't selected to play in.
This was the matchup of the two biggest blue bloods — the two winningest programs in the history of college basketball. I was sitting in a jam-packed corner of the arena with history that's synonymous to the game of basketball itself, and with the clock ticking down toward tipoff, I thought it would be interesting to ask the woman her thoughts about that rivalry across the border.
“You're a student at Missouri and they let you in here,” she said, jokingly, when I introduced myself.
She continued: “I've always been a big fan of the rivalry, I really have. But when they moved out of the Big 12, it was like, good riddance."
That was the mindset of the 10-plus Kansas fans and event staffers I talked to on the historic night — and yes, it was just that.
It was historic in the sense that Kansas basketball prevailed in a game that featured the unveiling of the official rules former Kansas coach James Naismith once wrote at halftime. It was historic in the sense that the Jayhawks won and are now 201-9 at home under Bill Self. It was historic in the sense that it seemed as if every single person affiliated in some sense with the university seemed to stop and watch their school play a basketball game.
…The longer Big Jay and Truman go without talking and the longer the ball is dribbled without switching hands, there's no reason to believe a move will be made.
The majority of Kansas fans have moved on and Missouri hasn't given them a reason to look back.
And for that reason, this should impact Missouri fans the hardest.
The Maneater (Mizzou student newspaper)
It seems as though Pac-12 teams have only made headlines this year for things like tripping a ref or welcoming a speedo-clad Michael Phelps to one of its student sections, but there is much more to the conference than these SportsCenter diversions. A closer look at the body of work from the Pac-12 may shock you. With the second highest RPI, nine of the conference’s 12 teams have a strength of schedule in the top 50 - the most of any conference. And they aren’t just grinding out half-court sets and bleeding the shot clock, they also lead the nation in points per game.
Current projections estimate that the Pac-12 will place between 7-9 teams in the NCAA Tournament. If these projections hold true, and the conference can place nine teams, it would tie for second most in the history of the tournament.
The Pac-12’s level playing field will likely prevent it from featuring a number of ranked teams, but the conference’s games are worth paying attention to now, because you’ll be seeing a lot of these teams in your bracket come Selection Sunday.
Big 12 Composite Schedule & Results
When Norman North point guard Trae Young scored 48 points in a win over Mustang earlier this season, or when he scored 51 against El Reno in the championship of the Shawnee Invitational last weekend, his father's response was essentially the same.
“You haven't done anything yet,” Rayford Young would tell his son.
This isn't the case of a father being overly hard on his child, or a dad hopelessly living his own life vicariously through his son.
Rayford knows all the details of Trae's personal goals and dreams. And Rayford occasionally tries to remind his son that he hasn't reached any of them yet.
…Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, Arizona, Connecticut, and the list just keeps going.
Rivals.com ranks Young as the No. 26 player in the country for the 2017 class. He's the most heavily recruited player the state has seen in years.
Former Oklahoma Christian star Blake Griffin was a McDonald's All-American in 2007. At one point while at Putnam City, Xavier Henry was the No. 1 recruiting prospect in the country in the 2009 class. McGuinness big man Daniel Orton was highly ranked and heavily pursued that year as well.
But none of them had an offer list as extensive as what Young has compiled.
Not since Midwest City's Shelden Williams in 2002 has the state had a player who attracted so many of the country's elite college programs.
…Education won't be lost in the process, either. Trae made a 29 on his ACT in September.
Rayford has begun getting the paperwork in order if they decide prep school is best for Trae. They like Montverde Academy in Florida and Findlay Prep in the Las Vegas area.
Kentucky coach John Calipari was one of the first to suggest the idea of prep school. Of course, Calipari would also be in favor of getting Trae out of OU coach Lon Kruger's backyard, and a little farther away from OSU or Kansas.
Conversely, Kruger would likely prefer Trae stay a few miles up the street from the Lloyd Noble Center.
But the prep school decision will be separate from Young's college choice.
…Quiet and reserved, Trae shows little emotion on the basketball court. This year, he has allowed a little more of his personality to come through, whether it's frustration over a missed opportunity or celebration of a big shot. But he mostly remains focused.
With all the attention from college coaches, media, fans or random people on social media, it isn't always easy to keep an attitude of humility, or stay focused on bigger goals.
“It's hard sometimes,” Trae said. “But I know it's not gonna be easy to get where I want to go. So I'm OK with it being hard.”
Hall of Famer Gary Payton may have been the greatest trash talker in NBA history. Now nine years removed from his playing career, Payton showed his mouth is still working as much as ever when he went back and forth with the nation's No.1 high school player, Josh Jackson, while sitting courtside.
"He didn't do his homework," Payton told Yahoo Sports. "That's it. He's a kid and he's having fun. I respect him because he has a lot of dog in him to come back and talk. He has a lot of gall to do that, so that's good.
"But in these situations, you got to understand if you're going to talk it, you got to back it up. Back it up!"
…Prolific Prep needed a late rally to outlast Hillcrest 77-72 for the victory. Late in the game, the 6-foot-8 Jackson empathically blocked a layup attempt from Julian Payton out of bounds. Afterward, Jackson turned and stared at Julian's father. Gary Payton clapped, laughed loudly and said, "That's funny!"
"It was real fun. I'm a trash-talker. He's a trash-talker. We kind of went at it a little bit, but it was all respect," Jackson told Yahoo Sports.
Jackson said he was familiar with Payton's stellar NBA career and trash-talking skills. Jackson also said the funniest thing that Payton did was stare him down after Hillcrest center DeAndre Ayton dunked hard.
…When asked about Jackson, Payton told Yahoo Sports, "Who? Number 11? He cool, man. He has a lot of dog in him. He has to work on his right hand. Kids nowadays in that situation are not coached how they should be coached to learn the game. When he got into it with me, his whole game went to [expletive] to me.
"He didn't score. He didn't do anything. He got to concentrate. That's what kids got to understand, you're not there yet. What makes a game is defined by what you do. Then you're paying attention to me? Most kids can't play that way."
Jackson has narrowed his college choices to Michigan State, Arizona, Kansas, UCLA and Maryland. The McDonald's All-America selection told Yahoo Sports he plans to make a decision in late March. Payton did offer some positive words about Jackson.
"He's a good talent and he's going to be a great basketball player," Payton said.
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2016)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube