KUAD Recap, Box Score, Notes, Quotes
KC Star Photos
Devonté Graham raced full speed downcourt, and after passing Kansas University’s bench, cupped the basketball and lobbed it in the direction of Wayne Selden, Jr., whose acrobatic one-handed flush with 1:31 left proved to be the exclamation point in the Jayhawks’ 73-61 second-round NCAA South Regional victory over UConn on Saturday night in Wells Fargo Arena.
“D-tay has such swag. The way he carries himself so confidently — the swag, it’s unbearable,” Selden said with a smile after scoring a game-high 22 points and playing sticky defense on UConn standout Daniel Hamilton, who was held to 11 points off 4-of-14 shooting.
“With point guards like that, it’s easy. All I have to do is run,” added Selden…
Selden said the Jayhawks, who rolled to a 40-16 lead following a 19-0 run, were fired up for this one.
“This is a hungry group. We really want it,” Selden said. “I look around the locker room and see it in everybody’s eyes. The focus.”
…“Aaron Miles (staff member and former KU guard) always tells us to play off two feet. I played off two feet on both of those (jumpers) so I’d be more under control,” Selden said of his two short shots that pretty much ended UConn’s hopes of a comeback win.
Selden, who entered the postseason with 10 career points in four NCAA Tournament contests, scored 21 in his team's second-round battle with No. 9-seeded Connecticut, punctuated with a one-handed, reach-back dunk with just over a minute to go that served as a dagger in the top-seeded Jayhawks’ 73-61 victory at Wells Fargo Center.
“I’ve never felt this before. I’ve never been here before,” Selden said. “We’re not going to let this moment go.”
The junior guard asserted himself from start to finish, going 8 for 15 from the field with seven rebounds and three assists. But no moment was as emphatic or memorable as his dunk with 1:39 left in the game.
…Selden wasn’t alone in powering the Jayhawks. Senior Perry Ellis cracked the program's top-10 all-time scoring list with 21 points, and Landen Lucas had 12 rebounds and three blocks. The Jayhawks carried a 20-point advantage (44-24) into the half thanks to a 16-0 run and a 19-0 stretch that began less than four minutes later.
The most important run, however, may have come late in the game. With 9:33 remaining and the Jayhawks’ lead trimmed to nine, Ellis and Selden combined for six straight to push the lead back to 15.
One unsung part of Selden's evening was his defense on Daniel Hamilton, who finished with 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting and missed his last five shots for the Huskies (25-11).
“He came to play,” Graham said, “on both ends.”
Selden called his personal performance secondary to the success of the team, which moves on to face No. 5 seed Maryland in the Sweet 16 in Louisville, Ky.
“We’re winning,” Selden said. “Even if I played awful and we won, it doesn’t matter. We’ve been winning games and you’re going to have good games and bad games. As long as we keep winning, that’s all that matters. And that applies to everybody in this locker room.”
Bill Self yelled out “Two game,” the play that was about to deliver the final knockout blow for Kansas against Connecticut.
Frank Mason bounced a pass to Landen Lucas at the elbow. Wayne Selden back-cut, taking advantage of Daniel Hamilton’s overplaying defense.
With his back to the basket, Lucas dropped the bounce pass, Selden catching it and taking a couple of steps before a two-handed flush.
It was the official end of a second-round curse — both for the Jayhawks and their junior guard.
…The formula for success was threefold. The Jayhawks denied nearly every pass on the perimeter, challenging a UConn team that played without much offensive movement. KU got a hand up on most shots as well, forcing tough attempts and off-balance jumpers. Then, the Jayhawks cleared the glass, helped by eight first-half defensive rebounds from Lucas.
The result was impressive defense. Though UConn came into the game with the greater reputation for turning away inside shots, it was KU that dominated that area before halftime, limiting the Huskies to 3-for-21 on two-point shooting. Also notable was the fact that two of those baskets came off steals, meaning UConn had only a single two-point basket in the half-court — a runner by Rodney Purvis over Svi Mykhailiuk at the 11:52 mark.
“We just had so much respect for these guys — watching them on film and stuff like that — and knew what they were capable of,” Selden said. “We really just came out and tried to play with a lot of energy.”
Selden’s 22 points came on 8-for-15 shooting. It was his highest point total since a 33-point effort against Kentucky on Jan. 30.
“When he’s like that and playing aggressively, because of his size and because of his aggressiveness, it’s hard to stop him,” Lucas said. “He knows that, and he knows that he could be a big part of our team.”
There were long stretches in Kansas' 73-61 second-round victory over UConn when it was easy to envision how the Jayhawks can win the national championship. Yes, early on you could see it, hear it, feel it. Houston, we had a problem. The Jayhawks, the No. 1 team in the nation, badly wanted to go to the Final Four in Houston.
You could hear it, too. Jamari Traylor blocked two Adams shots so viciously that you could hear it three-quarters of the court away. No college player should be forced to eat that much leather in one game, especially a freshman.
And you could feel it, too, feel the hesitation on the floor and the early frustration on the bench as the fouls mounted and so did the deficit. The Jayhawks didn't start Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Pierce, Danny Manning, Mario Chalmers and Nick Collison. It only felt that way. It felt like men vs. boys.
Reserve Jamari Traylor had the loudest block when he sent one whistling off his hand with the velocity of an Eric Hosmer line drive and into the stands. Traylor did what he usually does when he makes a highlight. He looked to the bench because he enjoys watching his teammates celebrate his feats almost as much as enjoys giving them something to celebrate.
What Traylor saw was a pair of freshman teammates with huge grins. Cheick Diallo was wagging his index finger. Carlton Bragg Jr. was jumping over and over with balled fists.
It was an amazing play made possible by Traylor building up a head of steam in defensive transition and leaping so explosively.
It was one of three blocks for Traylor, who knows his role and has been playing it well lately. It was the most exciting of KU’s seven blocked shots during Saturday night’s 73-61 victory that sent the Jayhawks to their first Sweet 16 since 2103. But none was bigger than Landen Lucas’ first of three.
It came on UConn’s first shot on an aggressive drive to the hoop by Sterling Gibbs.
It served as an early statement that the lane is closed for Kansas foes.
“If we want to win, that’s what’s going to win,” Traylor said. “Defense wins championships. We have to bring it every night. We just had to take it to ’em and we did a great job of that.”
There are times when the Kansas Jayhawks play so well that it looks like they invented the game of basketball, which is essentially true. Their legacy is so strong that it traces to their first coach, James Naismith, who did design the sport.
That meant nothing Saturday night, of course, except to say that their game against Connecticut did not involve any of the neophytes and long shots that have made this year’s NCAA Tournament so interesting. This was a matchup between two accomplished heavyweights. Kansas packed a wallop, winning 73-61 and advancing to the Sweet 16.
To beat the No.1 team in the country, it would take more than a miracle. It would’ve required a pocket full.
And the Huskies have shown some deep pockets in the last week or so. When they cut Kansas’ 24-point lead down to nine, one had to wonder if they still something more.
It turned out, they did not. Kansas snuffed out the Huskies’ season with a 73-61 victory Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA South Regional at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Jayhawks (32-4), ranked first in the polls and the top-seed in the regional, did whatever they wanted for too long before the Huskies (25-11) began to make inroads. UConn’s penchant for hot-and-cold shooting and foul trouble, surmountable against their recent opponents, could not be overcome against Kansas, the perennial Big 12 champs.
UConn shot just 33.9 percent (21-of-62) from the field for the game. Gibbs, a senior, finished with a team-high 20 points, including four 3-pointers, and Purvis added 17 points.
Gibbs broke down in tears in the postgame press conference when reflecting on the loss.
“We never stopped thinking that we were going to win the game,” he said.
The Huskies had won their first seven NCAA Tournament games under coach Kevin Ollie, including the 2014 national title.
“They’re going to be a very tough out in this tournament,” Ollie said of Kansas.
Des Moines Register
The red, watery eyes that radiated on Adams’ face in the locker room after Kansas’ 73-61 victory told the story of how hard the loss hit the 6-foot-3, 187-pound guard experiencing his first taste of March Madness. But given that his Saturday foe and the game’s hero was hometown friend Wayne Selden Jr., Adams was more than happy to praise the play of the KU junior who finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and some of the game’s most crucial plays.
“If anyone had to beat us, I’m glad it was one of my good friends,” Adams said. “But I wish he would’ve saved that for a different game.”
…When asked if anything he saw from Selden on Saturday night that surprised him, Adams simply shook his head and said, “Nah.”
“He performed like a pro today,” Adams said. “And I wish him the best. I hope he goes on to do bigger and better things, starting with winning the national championship.”
After their 16th consecutive victory (and one in completely dominant form), they should be considered the outright favorite for the national title. Bill Self’s squad features a balance of perimeter threats and inside-out play to keep any team off-balance. Selden Jr.’s exceptional play from the perimeter coupled with Ellis’s versatility will cause problems for any team facing the Jayhawks in the coming rounds, and their destruction of the Huskies may just be the beginning.
Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self loved his team’s feisty attitude at halftime of Saturday’s 73-61 second-round NCAA South Regional victory over UConn in Wells Fargo Arena.
The squad’s veteran players were animated despite leading, 44-24.
“It has a different feel to me, basically most of the year, because these guys played lights out the first half and at halftime they are chewing on each other because a couple possessions they didn’t execute right. I think that’s good,” Self said of his veteran team.
“I don’t think guys who have been in the program nine months have the same feel because these guys (veterans) have been through the last two years and not advanced out of this (second) round. I think that’s good. I think it probably seems more special because of all the time they’ve invested.”
The Jayhawks, the No. 1 overall seed, are moving to the Sweet 16 for the first time in three years, set to play in the South Regional semifinal against Maryland or Hawaii next week in Louisville. And if Kansas shoots as it shot in building a 20-point halftime lead against UConn, there's probably no way to stop this Jayhawks train from advancing to Houston and the Final Four.
In its current 16-game winning streak, Kansas is shooting 41.5 percent from 3-point range. That's a tick down from the 42.6 percent rate at which the Jayhawks shot for the season entering the tournament, ranking it No. 2 nationally.
Really, with skilled post veterans Ellis and Landen Lucas, in addition to Jamari Traylor as an intimidating shot-blocker, it's not fair when Kansas connects consistently from the 3-point line.
But there's a flip side to this: Live by the 3, die by the 3. Kansas missed everything from long range in the second half. It got sloppy. And UConn cut the lead to nine points before Ellis (21 points) and Selden (22) took over in the paint, snapping the Huskies' seven-game NCAA tournament winning streak.
In Kansas' bad five-game stretch in January and a November loss to Michigan State, it shot 32.8 percent from 3 -- a sharp drop-off.
So a word to the wise for Kansas foes and fans next week: The formula works for the Jayhawks. When they shoot, they win.
ESPN (I don’t think this dude has watched much KU bball lol)
Out of the teams that already punched their tickets to the Sweet 16, Kansas is third in scoring differential through the first two rounds.
Fellow No. 1 seed Virginia is plus-44, No. 11 seed Gonzaga is plus-39, and Kansas is plus-38. No. 5 seed Indiana is plus-31 and No. 4 seed Iowa State is plus-30 to round out the top five. The 105-point output in the first round is the most for a single game so far.
While the offense can be the accelerator to victory, the Jayhawks, against UConn in particular, were effective on the defensive end as well. Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor each blocked three shots, and Lucas also pulled down 12 rebounds. Ellis added eight rebounds.
"Those guys play with so much energy, especially Jamari," Selden said. "It looked like batting practice out there for him. It's great when you got guys like that."
The tone was set right from the start.
On Connecticut’s first possession of the game, guard Sterling Gibbs drove into the lane but had his shot blocked by Kansas forward Landen Lucas. For the remainder of the half, the Huskies found little room to work inside.
Lucas and Jamari Traylor swatted away shots, and KU rebounded the many UConn misses to carry the No. 1 Jayhawks to a 20-point halftime lead and a 73-61 victory Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
Lucas and Traylor blocked three shots apiece and Wayne Selden had one.
“It can always set a tone,” Lucas said of the blocks. “You can kind of get in their head a little bit, and that was an emphasis for us because they have great people who can drive to the hoop so to be able to get a hand on that first shot really helped us out.
“Whenever you can protect the rim and not get fouls, that’s great and that’s what we were doing early on. I think that got in their heads a little bit and helped our guards.”
The decisive moment came when KU blunted a 9-0 second-half run by the Huskies, prompting Self to call time out with 9:32 remaining. On three straight possessions, the Jayhawks used more movement to create a basket for Ellis and two for Wayne Selden, who led all scorers with 22 points.
“The first (play) was the biggest one,’’ Self said. “They were (in) zone and Perry made a 16-footer right from the free throw line in the middle of the zone. That to me was the biggest shot of the game, if there was a biggest shot. …
“We scored like 10 points the first 11 minutes of the second half, we didn’t make any shots, we were 0-fer from 3, lost all momentum, but somehow the guys rallied and pieced it together.’’
There were factors to take issue with — namely the erratic play of point guard Frank Mason, who made just 1 of 8 shots and offset four assists with four turnovers.
But then you look at the line of Landen Lucas and gain some satisfaction. The senior post scored just six points, but grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, with 4 assists and 3 blocks.
Three blocks by Traylor were even more emphatic.
“It looked like batting practice that first half for him,’’ Selden said.
Of course, Selden provided the exclamation point — everyone say “Uncle” — by converting a lob into a thunderous dunk with 1:38 remaining.
Dunks, blocks, bombs … Kansas had it all going…
This tournament made “survive and advance” mainstream. What happens in this round doesn’t necessarily mean a thing in the next round. Kansas fans can remember nervous moments in the early rounds of what turned out to be Final Four runs, and feelings of comfort that came the game before a gut punch.
So this isn’t a predictor as much as an observation: this team does not seem constrained by the tensions and pressures and failures of the past.
As much as anything else, the NCAA Tournament is about handling the moment. That’s a vague concept, of course, and can be used retroactively to explain the otherwise unexplainable. Maybe that’s what this column is doing.
But this team has not yet met a moment too big, and its perfect record since last November in games decided by 10 points or less indicates the Jayhawks may be the ones making the moment too big for the other side.
Playing at Kansas means playing under a spotlight that can melt, and that’s not for everyone. At times, it hasn’t been for some of the guys on this team. But the transformation of this group — not just since the beginning of the season, but within a core that’s been together for three years — is undeniable.
KC Star Mellinger
Ellis passed Kirk Hinrich and Dave Robisch to move into ninth place on the KU career scoring list. He’s one point shy of Paul Pierce, who is eighth. Ellis has 1,767 points.
“It’s an honor just to know that, but it’s still something I’m not worried about. I just want to continue to try to win and go from there, and after the season whatever happens, happens,” Ellis said.
It wasn’t just that Perry Ellis, of the rare species known as a senior star, had 21 points and eight rebounds.
Or that junior Wayne Selden, who might well have left a year ago and might as well not have played (zero points) in KU’s loss to Wichita State last season, had 22 including yet another show-stopping dunk.
With 13 (Ellis) and 12 (Selden) in the first half, in fact, those two alone outscored Connecticut (24).
But this also was about the impassioned, grinding play of fifth-year senior Jamari Traylor and Landen Lucas, a fourth-year junior.
The duo jumpstarted KU to a 44-24 halftime lead with lunchpail stuff: rebounds and defense.
Lucas, who set the tone by blocking UConn’s first shot, had 12 rebounds as KU outdid the Huskies 44-24 on the boards.
And his mentality explains something about the difference in the core collective personality of this group.
“I prefer rebounds (to points) by far,” said Lucas, who scored six points, “Point for most people are rebounds for me.”
Not that there wasn’t any glitz in the play of Lucas and Traylor.
They blocked three shots apiece, including two within seconds of each other by Traylor on UConn’s Jalen Adams — who might have been forgiven if he just went fetal each time he hit the floor after the humbling snuffs.
…Meanwhile, what’s made this team go is its versatile ways of scoring, unselfishness in sharing the ball and defense that has been intensifying all season.
It became so daunting Saturday that at one point a beaten Selden apparently only had to scream to get an airball out of Daniel Hamilton.
“We couldn’t run our plays,” Connecticut’s Omar Calhoun said.
These are the earmarks of a different sort of emphasis in the players’ mindsets.
KC Star Gregorian
The last thing Frank Mason’s first five minutes foreshadowed was a lecture from his coach.
Mason earned one, though, by failing to maintain the resounding tone he set for Kansas in a 73-61 win over Connecticut in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Those first five minutes had a significant impact on the outcome, as Mason guided the energetic Jayhawks with effortless trips past the front line of UConn’s defense and helped them build a double-digit lead.
Many of the other 35 minutes had an impact on KU coach Bill Self, who found Mason in the tunnel at halftime, not expecting feedback.
“I don’t know if it was encouragement,” Self said. “We called a play and he threw it to the wrong side, so we couldn’t run it the way that it’s set up to run.… I was just trying to tell him that you’ve just got to get your head into it.
“He wasn’t bad today, I’m not saying that. But I think when things went a little bit south for him personally, I think he quit being aggressive and lost a little focus. I was just trying to get him back.”
Kansas nearly ripped the hearts out of the Huskies in the first 20 minutes. UConn’s Rodney Purvis scored the first points of the game on a steal and dunk, and Daniel Hamilton hit a 3-pointer to give the Huskies a 5-2 lead. The rest of the opening half was pretty much all rock, chalk, Jayhawk.
Kansas led by as many as 24 points late in the half and owned a 44-24 edge at the break. Words (or stats) can hardly do justice to how thoroughly the Jayhawks dominated. Kansas had more rebounds (25) than UConn had points (24). The Jayhawks led 18-5 at the start, keyed by a 16-0 run, then added a 19-0 run later in the half. The Huskies missed 12 straight shots during that stretch.
“We dug ourselves a hole,” said Purvis, “and you can’t really do that against maybe the best team in the country.”
New Haven Register
Kansas junior guard Wayne Selden Jr., has been named one of five finalists for the 2016 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award.
Kansas senior forward Perry Ellis has been named one of five finalists for the 2016 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award.
VOTE HERE DAILY!
“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 Iowa State Cyclones secured their 78-61 win over the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans in the second round of the NCAA tournament during the first half on Saturday, when the Trojans' best player couldn't breathe. Blame Monte Morris, not the altitude.
Minutes before the break, Morris engaged Trojans star Josh Hagins, who scored 31 points in a win over Purdue on Thursday. Hagins (3-for-8), who lost his 15 minutes of fame when Friday's breathtaking NCAA tournament slate reduced his time in the spotlight, looked at Trojans coach Chris Beard and pulled his jersey -- the universal signal to request a break.
The list of finalists for the James A. Naismith Trophy, recognizing the most outstanding men’s college basketball player, is loaded with seniors and includes four conference players of the year. Malcolm Brogdon (University of Virginia), Buddy Hield (University of Oklahoma), Tyler Ulis (University of Kentucky) and Denzel Valentine (Michigan State University) make up the final ballot, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today.
Oklahoma State parted with Travis Ford on Friday. So that Big 12 school's men's basketball job is now officially open. After talking with multiple industry sources, here's a list of six potential candidates whose names could surface:
Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams: This Oklahoma State list starts here, if only because Oklahoma State's list likely also starts here. And for good reason -- mostly because Williams is from Texas and has, for a few years, seemed like a great candidate for any good Big 12 job, which Oklahoma State is. But Williams has now built Virginia Tech into something relevant. And he's returning, next season, every important piece from a team that won 10 ACC games. So would he really walk away from that for another rebuild? Perhaps. And, either way, he's too smart to not at least listen and see whether Oklahoma State can and will make an offer so overwhelming he simply can't bring himself to reject it.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall: Marshall is an obvious target for just about any job. So he belongs on OSU's wish-list. And Oklahoma State would be foolish to not at least make a phone call to see if there's any interest. But the Wichita State coach makes more than $3 million per year, meaning he would, like Williams, be crazy expensive. And, beyond that, it should be noted that Marshall has passed on comparable, and arguably better, jobs before. So there's nothing wrong with dreaming and even trying, and Oklahoma State should probably do both. But, barring a surprise, Marshall will not be OSU's next coach.
Stephen F. Austin coach Brad Underwood: Underwood is 89-13 in three seasons as a head coach with three Southland regular-season titles and three Southland Tournament titles. He's 59-1 in games against Southland opponents, and the fact that he's a Kansas native and former Big 12 assistant makes him a logical candidate at Oklahoma State. Truth be told, Underwood is also a logical candidate at TCU, Saint Louis and pretty much every other place with a good opening given that he has the Lumberjacks in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. So I guess what I'm saying is this: even if Underwood doesn't receive an Oklahoma State offer, he'll definitely receive an offer from somewhere. And deservedly so. Because the resume is just too much to overlook.
Arkansas-Little Rock coach Chris Beard: Beard only has one season of Division I head-coaching experience on his resume. But, man, it sure is an awesome season. He went 30-5 and advanced to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament with a win over Purdue that came in dramatic fashion. So now, like Underwood, Beard is garnering interest. And if Oklahoma State doesn't fall in his direction, odds are some other nice job will.
USC coach Andy Enfield: Enfield has now made two bad programs respectable — first Florida Gulf Coast's, now USC's. And did you realize his wife, Amanda, is from Mustang, Okla., which is only 80 miles from Stillwater? It's true. So Enfield has connections to the state. And Oklahoma State is, historically, a better job than USC. And $2 million a year goes a lot farther in Stillwater than it does in Los Angeles, meaning it's not crazy to think Enfield would at least listen to, and likely consider, an offer from Oklahoma State.
CBS Sports analyst Doug Gottlieb: Gottlieb is a former Oklahoma State point guard who is now a television analyst and radio host for CBS Sports. He's never coached. But he is the son and brother of a coach. And he's made it known he'd like to coach, too. And the success Fred Hoiberg enjoyed at Iowa State — and that Steve Kerr is now enjoying with Golden State — despite having never coached before serves as evidence that previous coaching experience isn't necessary to succeed at the highest levels of basketball, which aids Gottlieb's candidacy. It's also worth noting that Oklahoma State icon Eddie Sutton, who coached Gottlieb in college, is publicly supportive of the idea. So Gottlieb is a real option, and he could actually end up as his alma mater's next coach.
One assumes another group of players — certainly Murray and Ulis, perhaps Briscoe as well as freshman Skal Labissiere and junior Marcus Lee — will head to the NBA. Calipari is not one to dwell on what happened in the past. He can't, because the future comes at him quickly, and it looks nothing like the past.
"We got a heck of a group coming in, maybe the best ever that I've had," Calipari said on the podium. "The big picture for us is we're fine. I am sick for my team, though ...
"Big picture of this is we're all right," he said. "Now I'm going to have a brand new team again next year. Surprise!"
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