Sophomore Brannen Greene, who scored a career-high 19 points, led the Jayhawks on two 7-0 runs in the second half. The last 7-0 started by Greene hitting his last two free throws — Greene was 4-for-4 from the line — put the game out of reach in the 75-70 Kansas victory in Washington D.C. on Wednesday night.
“I felt well since shootaround today,” Greene said. “I like the gym, like the arena so I played within the team.”
Greene was able to get hot in the second half by hitting four of his five made 3-pointers. The last Greene 3-pointer was the dagger as it put Kansas up 68-63 with a minute left in game, and Georgetown couldn’t respond.
“Wayne [Selden] drove to the middle and Landen [Lucas] set a big-time screen, it wasn’t even part of the play, and I found myself wide open, I took my time and knocked it down,” Greene said about his last 3-pointer. “I loved that three honestly, it was a big three for me.”
Kansas started the game hot by reaching out to a 7-2 run, and then an 8-0 run a few Georgetown baskets later to put Kansas ahead 22-11.
The 8-0 was started by none other than Greene with his first 3-pointer, and he said he was feeling the rhythm. He said the basket looked extra wide tonight for him.
“I just play my role,” Greene said. “It was my night, sometimes you see a big basket and that’s what I saw tonight.”
The play was called “Ear,” a new design that Kansas’ coaching staff had cooked up earlier this week, and it was breaking down right before Brannen Greene’s eyes.
It was late on Wednesday night inside the Verizon Center, a seemingly benign venue that had turned hostile in the final minutes as the prospect of a victory over Kansas began to feel real. The 11th-ranked Jayhawks led Georgetown by one basket with 2:40 left, and sophomore guard Wayne Selden was driving middle, looking for a way out of busted play.
Greene, a sophomore whose career to this point had been defined by a rotating spot in Bill Self’s doghouse, sensed the moment and set his feet on the wing.
“I found myself wide open,” Greene said. “I just took my time.”
Greene’s three-pointer — his fifth of the night — splashed through the net, and the pent-up energy drained from the building. Georgetown’s “Hoya Saxa” faithful let out a deep sigh. The Jayhawks were on their way to a 75-70 victory in their first true road test of the season.
“I loved that three, honestly,” Greene said. “That was a big three.”
...“According to him,” Self would say, “if I’d let him play, he could do that most every night.”
This quote from Self was said with some degree of jest, of course, but it helps explain the bumpy two-year path of Greene, who entered last season as a heralded sharpshooter from Georgia.
“He’s a talented kid,” Self said. “But he’s gotten in his own way with us on the court by not doing probably what we think he’s capable of doing, and tonight he was totally different.”
...The Jayhawks, of course, still do things that irritate Self, and this frustration is not limited to Greene. This can be a pretty bad passing team, Self says, and on most nights, he’s still not sure which perimeter players will take the minutes. For example: On Wednesday, starting wing Svi Mykhailiuk was limited to just five minutes after Self deemed that it was “not his night.”
But the frustrations, primarily, come from things that can be fixed. Then there’s the ability to win a hard-fought road game in a hostile building — even one where the “Rock Chalk” chant rings out from the nosebleed seats in the final moments.
That’s something that can’t be defined.
“It was a toughness win,” Greene said. “Coach kept saying the tougher team was going to win, and that’s what I felt like we did. We grinded it out.”
Kansas freshman wing Kelly Oubre played a season-high 16 minutes Wednesday, finishing with seven points and five rebounds in the Jayhawks’ 75-70 victory over Georgetown.
It was perhaps the latest step that Oubre, a McDonald’s All-American, is starting to settle into a role. And according to KU coach Bill Self, that role could be evolving.
Self said after the game that he would like to play the 6-foot-7 Oubre more at the four. On Wednesday, those minutes were more open because junior Jamari Traylor was serving a one-game suspension after being arrested in Lawrence last weekend for interfering with the duties of a police officer.
“We’re going to start playing him some at the four — maybe make him a bad matchup four,” Self said of Oubre. “The biggest thing is he’s got his hands on some loose balls a lot. He’s one of those guys that can get in the paint off the bounce and pick up a loose ball and score the ball off that.
“He’s not a guy that you’re going to play to, shooting threes every possession like Brannen (Greene), but he could be a lockdown defender eventually, and he’s got such great length.”
Kansas University starting big man Landen Lucas had words with Georgetown’s 6-10, 350-pound bigger man Joshua Smith after Lucas fouled out of the Jayhawks’ win at Verizon Center.
“I’ve known him since high school. He’s from Seattle, right above me,” Portland native Lucas said of the Kent, Washington, native. “I thought he tried to swing the elbow at me. He didn’t connect but I just kind of wanted a reason ... it was my fifth foul I had to go out with something. I couldn’t just walk off the court,” he joked.
KU made 25 of 32 free throws (78 percent) to help clinch the close win.
“We shoot at least 100, 200 shots a day from the free throw line,” KU’s Brannen Greene said. “Kelly at the beginning of the year was not so great; he’s been knocking them down lately. Everybody’s making big-time improvements from the free throw line.”
The Jayhawks’ 73 percent team mark ranks 60th nationally.
“Usually the more you talk about it, the worse you shoot them,” Self said, “but we’ve tried to spend a lot more time on the line of late.”
MAN AND A MOON — Georgetown’s 6-10, 350-pound forward Josh Smith had some success against KU, scoring 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting with five rebounds.
“Landen (Lucas) and Cliff (Alexander), they’re pretty strong guys, but it was a lunar eclipse or whatever — you’d never see them if Josh was in front of them,” Self said. “They actually did a decent job considering how strong he is.”
MORE ON SVI — Self was asked afterwards about Svi Mykhailiuk, who started the game but played just five minutes with no points, one foul and a turnover.
“He wasn’t very aggressive and didn’t play very well. Of course, I put him back in, and he threw the ball right to them,” Self said. “It’s nothing negative, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re playing 17-year-old kids that should be high school juniors.”
“At this juncture, it’s hard to assess that right now,” Hoyas Coach John Thompson III said when asked about the overall performance. “You stop and you just keep replaying key possessions at both ends of the court, where if you do this, you don’t do this, you do that. D’Vauntes [Smith-Rivera] got wide-open shots that didn’t go in. That happens.”
Smith-Rivera, the junior guard, made just 3 of 15 shots and finished with 10 points and team highs of 10 rebounds and six assists. Smith-Rivera led the Hoyas in scoring last season and was selected Big East preseason player of the year in voting among conference coaches.
Another blow came with 42 seconds to play when starting guard Jabril Trawick hurt his right knee and left the game. He did not return, and Thompson said the initial indication is a serious bone bruise. The senior managed two points and six rebounds and committed three turnovers.
“I think it was more so just missing shots that I normally make, rushing a few shots that I should have taken my time with,” Smith-Rivera said. “It wasn’t anything necessarily defensively. I do want to give credit. They did crowd the paint a lot more. They were playing a lot of help-side defense, which was really good.”
When asked if he could think of any positive notes to take away from the loss to Kansas, Thompson replied that he was not sure there were any.
Nevertheless, there were surely uplifting signs to be seen from the Hoyas, even after their tough defeat. Aside from Peak’s riveting performance in his first high-profile home game, Smith had his best performance of the season. Smith fought off vicious double- and triple-teams to finish with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting and five rebounds. He played 27 minutes in the game, which is over four minutes longer than his season average.
“[Smith is] a load — even our guys said, ‘We knew he was big but we had no idea.’ It’s hard to simulate how big he is until you actually guard him,” Kansas Head Coach Bill Self said. “We got lucky tonight that Smith-Rivera didn’t make shots. They’re well-coached and well-drilled — I’m sure Georgetown will be right in the middle of it in the Big East.”
The game was the second of four home-and-home series between Georgetown and Kansas. After Wednesday night’s game, Kansas has won the first two games of the series.
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Cliff Alexander with the SWAT for @KUHoops. #RockChalk foxs.pt/1GeDg3s
Freshman power forward Cliff Alexander, who recorded a block and two massive free-throw makes in the final, pivotal five minutes, took another baby step forward. At times, poor Landen Lucas posting up the Hoyas' 350-pound tank of a center, Josh Smith, looked a bit like a 2-by-4 plank trying to prop up a wall. But the dude hung in there. So did the_y, and with swagger -- even without enforcer Jamari Traylor, suspended because of his arrest early Sunday morning.
Self likes that swagger. Needs that swagger. He wants people to think of his Jayhawks first not for a roster full of NBA draft picks and five-star resumes, but for being the hardest-working, toughest bunch on that particular floor on that particular night. When KU plays like a scrappy, try-hard mid-major that just also happens to be a blueblood, when the level of hard work meets the prodigious level of talent rather than using the latter as a crutch, that's the goal, the prime directive.
Point guards Frank Mason and Devonte' Graham embodied that work ethic in Washington, through thick and thin. The duo combined for three steals -- KU racked up nine on the night, a new single-game high -- while their whirls into the paint earned 12 trips to the line, a drive-and-kick or drive-and-dish combo growing in confidence with each ensuing possession, each mountain conquered.
…Georgetown is the fourth team among the KenPom.com top 30 that KU has faced over the past three weeks, and the third to go down, with the 20th-rated Hoyas joining Michigan State (14th as of early Wednesday evening) and Florida (16th) among the vanquished. A fifth big boy, Utah (23rd), is up next at Sprint Center on Saturday afternoon.
Frank Mason has a little AI in him. Fearless.
12/10/14, 7:59 PM
BRANNEN GR33333NE. #kubball
12/10/14, 8:16 PM
The real question is why is Kansas playing a true road game at Georgetown in December? Wish more coaches scheduled like Bill Self.
12/10/14, 8:17 PM
Kansas gets better as a TEAM each time it takes the floor. Jayhawks with a solid win at Georgetown. Still the team to beat in the Big 12.
12/10/14, 8:55 PM
Saw some good @KUHoops offensive performances tonight but hats off to @LandenLucas33 @HumbleKid_2 for fighting in the trenches vs 300+ #Bigs
12/10/14, 9:37 PM
Didn't play good tonight but I'm so proud of my teammates for getting the job done. #KUCMB
12/10/14, 9:48 PM
Young BG was Lit tonight shoot the cheese, shoot it!
Bill Self would be the first to disabuse you of that notion.
"We're not very good yet," Self said.
He is happy to list the reasons.
"We're not a good passing team at all," Self said. "We don't make the game easier for our teammates. ... We don't know where our shots are coming from consistently. We don't know who to play through at times. Sometimes Frank [Mason] is the best player on our team. Sometimes Wayne [Selden] is. Sometimes Perry [Ellis] is. We haven't quite figured it out yet. But that's OK. The key to having great seasons is winning when you don't play great."
Judged by that standard, Wednesday night's win was Kansas' most impressive yet.
Greene, Monday’s star with 19 points in 18 minutes on 5-of-5 shooting from three, appreciated the little things Oubre did to contribute to the victory.
“Big-time,” Greene said of Oubre. “Big steals, big blocks, big rebounds, big points. He was just aggressive. We knew that we had Josh Smith coming off the ball screen so he knew he could attack, every time, every time, so even if didn't score the point he was kicking it to somebody else who helped create the offense."
If Oubre continues to improve, KU’s bench gets even stronger and it never has been weak.
While his teammates scrambled, 19-year-old Andrew Wiggins was calm as can be, and the No. 1 overall pick responded with the flurry that saved the night.
Wiggins scored five straight points at the game's most crucial moment and finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and four assists to help the Timberwolves stun the Trail Blazers with a 90-82 victory on Wednesday night.
"The baby Wolves grew up a little bit," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said.
The defender had the perfect angle on Andrew Wiggins as he drove along the baseline in hopes of delivering a thunderous dunk.
During a pickup game three years ago in Canada, a guy that'd hampered the likes of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson got ready to time his ascent. But the 16-year-old Wiggins flashed one of those YouTube-sensational moments before the man between him and the basket could even react.
"As I planted," Mitchell Wiggins Sr. said, "he was landing."
Dozens of lockdown stoppers, from the parks of Vaughan, Ontario to the AAU Circuit to Kansas' Phog Allen Fieldhouse to the NBA, have witnessed their Welcome to the Andrew Wiggins Experience moment. But the man who begat one of basketball's most ballyhooed prospects ever has been privy to more than most.
Shoot, he and his superstar track athlete wife, Marita Payne-Wiggins, are largely responsible for creating them.
So to understand the 19-year-old Timberwolves forward who scored 21 points -- the same amount as both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson -- Monday night against Golden State and has defended Jimmy Butler, Joe Johnson, Dwyane Wade, etc. admirably so far in his infantile career is to understand where he came from. Not just the genes from a dad who played in the NBA and a mother who has a pair of Olympic silver medals hanging at home, but the mentality that comes from growing up in a household where fierce competition is balanced by unconditional love.
12/10/14, 2:14 PM
#kuwbb's Chelsea Gardner is one of five #big12wbb players on the Naismith Trophy Top 50 Watch List.
“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
O’Neill was in the studio alongside co-analyst Casey Jacobsen, a former All-America guard at Stanford, with the two breaking down highlights of Kansas’s 75-70 victory at Georgetown. After finishing O’Neill was asked about where the Jayhawks would finish in the Big 12.
“Kansas is going to finish second or third,” O’Neill said. “Texas is going to win the Big 12.”
Kansas has earned at least a share of the Big 12 title in each of the past 10 seasons, with Texas sharing the 2006 and 2008 league championships. The two teams will face off on Jan. 24 and Feb. 28 this season, with KenPom projecting a home-and-home split.
The site also projects the two schools to split the league title with 12-6 records.
Iowa State University basketball player Bryce Dejean-Jones has been arrested and charged in connection with a drug case.
ISU Head Basketball Coach Fred Hoiberg has scheduled a news conference for 1:15 p.m. today. Look for coverage on KCCI.com, our mobile website and apps.
Dejean-Jones, 22, is being held in the Story County Jail. His bond is set at $1,600.
He is charged with hosting a drug house marijuana as well as nuisance party regulations and a noise violation.
The arrest comes just before the Cyclones take on the Hawkeyes Friday night in Iowa City at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. ISU has not yet commented on the arrest.
Ames police spokesman Geoff Huff said Dejean-Jones was arrested around 3 a.m.
Huff said the marijuana charge is roughly the equivalent of a drunken-driving charge and that a fine and probation is more likely than jail time.
Incarnate Word decided to make the move to Division I to help get the word out about its university.
No doubt lots of people know about the Cardinals now.
Kyle Hittle hit a contested baseline jumper after Nebraska's Terran Petteway threw away an inbound pass, and the school from San Antonio upset the Cornhuskers 74-73 on Wednesday night for its biggest victory since it started the four-year process of moving from Division II to Division I last season.
"We've hoped for this forever," Hittle said. "We've had big schools on our schedule we've been trying to try to beat so we can get some notice, so hopefully this does it. This is a great win for our program, for our school, and it's so unreal. So unreal."
Top-ranked Kentucky was so startled by Columbia's fast start that the Wildcats still weren't sure what to make of it after they seized the tempo and eventually the outcome.
After all, Kentucky hadn't faced a double-digit deficit this season until the Ivy Leaguers scored the first 11 points Wednesday night. But the Wildcats recovered for a 56-46 victory in a game that served more as a wake-up call than the tuneup they sought for Saturday's showdown against No. 21 North Carolina.
"At tipoff, we were down 11-0 and the guys were kind of deflated," Kentucky freshman forwardTrey Lyles said after scoring seven points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
"They came in, played well and hit shots. We had to fight from behind for the majority of the game, but we came out, played as a team and got the win."
Nothing came easy, though.
Kentucky still trailed at halftime and finally shook off its slow start to finally take a lead it never relinquished despite some tense moments at the end.
In a college basketball season already marked by several big upsets, the Wildcats (10-0) got their toughest challenge yet from the pesky Lions. Columbia led for nearly 27 minutes beforeAaron Harrison & Co. took control.
Set to face UNC, UCLA and Louisville in their next three games, the Wildcats had trouble from the outset against Columbia (5-3).
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The Dragons meet the nation's No. 1 team in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 presented by the Army National Guard, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) in a made-for-TV special that also pits arguably the top two senior players.
Montverde's Ben Simmons, a 6-foot-9 forward with guard skills, and O'Dowd's 6-10 post Ivan Rabb make this an ultra attractive high school match-up. The game is scheduled 6:30 p.m. (EST) Friday on ESPN2.
O'Dowd (2-0) is No. 7 in the country by MaxPreps, but as high as No. 2 by prepnation.com. Simmons is the consensus No. 1 senior recruit and Rabb is ranked as high as No. 2.
"It's not often you get the opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the country," Richie said. "On national TV. And have the No. 1 and 2 teams in the country ever faced off with the No. 1 and 2 recruits?"
Nearly two years ago when Ben Simmons made the 12-hour flight from Australia to the U.S. to enroll at Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) he mentally stored the list of the top basketball players in the 2015 class to give himself a goal to aspire to.
Atop that list? Ivan Rabb, a center at Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.).
“I wanted to see which players I needed to play against to be considered the best,” said Simmons, an LSU signee. “I love competition and I was pretty eager to matchup with those guys. Ivan was the No. 1 player; I definitely remember that.”
Now it’s Simmons who’s the marked man, holding down the No. 1 spot in the ESPN 100; Rabb checks in at No. 5.
“I used to worry about rankings and things like that,” Rabb said. “But none of that stuff actually matters; it’s all about what you do at the next level. I prepare for that. I train for that. I go out every game and try to dominate whoever.”
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