KUAD Recap, Box Score, Photos, Notes, Quotes
KC Star Photos
Audio: Radio highlights
LJW Tait: The Day After
KUAD: Kansas vs WVU Big 12 Championship Pregame Notes
Pregame Party and Pep Rally Info
Join Kansas Athletics, the Williams Education Fund and the KU Alumni Association for a pregame party and pep rally at No Other Pub (1370 Grand Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64106) across from the Sprint Center in the Power & Light District.
Saturday, March 12
2:00 p.m. - Pregame Party Begins
3:00 p.m. - KU Pep Rally on main stage at Power & Light
KU Fan Postseason Info
In the second half of Kansas' 70-66 victory over Baylor in a Big 12 tournament semifinal Friday, Anthony Pitts Jr. was all of us. The image of his reaction to nephew Wayne Selden Jr.'s brutal dunk over Ish Wainright in the second half went viral.
He was hard to miss. Pitts wore a homemade, Flavor Flav-like clock. He says he makes one for every Kansas game.
"It was emotional, I mean, I grew hair," said Pitts, who is bald.
…This is just the beginning, though. Pitts said he would make another clock for Saturday's championship game. Get ready for it, people.
"Ya'll got me hype," Pitts said as reporters surrounded him after the game. "I might go get a big one with a mirror. I might overdo it tomorrow."
Wayne Selden brought an arena to its feet, dropped a grown man to his keister and made his uncle an Internet sensation, all in the course of one electric, goose bump-inducing play.
…Selden’s teammates came unglued. Freshman forward Carlton Bragg stepped over the collapsed Wainright like a dirty bearskin rug. Senior guard Evan Manning jumped to his feet from the bench and threw a rapid series of unrestrained punches into the air. Senior forward Jamari Traylor, Selden’s roommate, was the first to greet him with an aggressive chest bump.
Wainright, laying on the floor for what felt like forever, had fouled out, and really, that might have been best for all parties involved.
Selden already had two unassisted jams to that point, but this was the most expressive play of his up-and-down three seasons at Kansas. For his part, the Roxbury, Mass., native acted like he’d been there before, showing little-to-no reaction as he walked it off up press row.
“I was actually thinking when I got the two-handed dunk before, I was like, ‘If that’s not going to get me hype, maybe if I dunk on somebody it will get me hype,’” Selden said. “And I dunked on somebody and still nothing.
“Maybe like, I don’t know, when we win it all, I’ll be happy.”
…With the crowd still buzzing, the broadcast focused on Pitts, who seemed to still be processing the moment. Then, a switch flipped. He yanked at his shirt. He ripped off his black KU hat. He began jumping up and down, screaming in unrestrained joy, as the red, oversized Flavor Flav-style clock around his neck swayed back and forth.
“It was so much emotion, I couldn’t contain it,” Pitts said, appearing exhausted. “That’s my guy.”
The clock, for what it’s worth, has a picture of Selden dunking in the middle. Selden estimates it is about the 10th made by his uncle, adding that Pitts is like an older brother to him and helped take him to football and basketball practices as a youth.
Pitts may have reacted like his nephew’s dunk was a once-in-a-lifetime moment, but that wasn’t the case, he said.
“The first time I saw him throw it down like that, honestly, he was 13,” Pitts said. “It was at a basketball game and it got thrown off the backboard, and I didn’t expect him to make it. I was like, ‘Whoa!’ And it’s been like that ever since.”
“He’s my No. 1 fan in college. I love him, but he’s crazy. He’s really a kid at heart. He was having fun with it. I’m glad he had the opportunity,” Selden said after Uncle Anthony shared the spotlight with his nephew not only on national cable television but with print media members after a victory that pushed KU into Saturday’s 5 p.m., final against West Virginia.
“He’s been like that since I was a kid. It’s great to see him out here watching me play,” Selden added.
…It may or may not be KU’s top dunk of the season. Remember Jamari Traylor had a vicious one on Feb. 29 at Texas.
“I don’t really focus in on mine,” said Selden, who was stone-faced after Friday’s amazing slam. “Jamari’s whole elbow was on the rim. I think I’ll give it to him.”
Traylor, who had six rebounds in 19 minutes against Baylor, chimed in with his opinion.
“I’m a little biased. I might go for my own dunk,” Traylor said. “Wayne’s was an amazing play. I might actually have to give it a tie at least,” Traylor added.
Coach Bill Self, whose Jayhawks actually saw a 16-point lead with 1:51 left dip to three points at :05.4 (he had to bring his regulars back in the game for a group of reserves) — acknowledged Selden’s dunk was mighty special.
“I’ve judged a lot of dunk contests. I thought it was great,” Self said. “I thought it was an athletic play. Certainly he moreso than anybody else can give us confidence through physical plays and that was one of them. I don’t know how I’d rate it, but ’Mari’s at Texas and probably this, probably the two best we’ve had this year.”
Selden's non-reaction almost added to the hype. Think back to the days when Barry Sanders used to simply hand the official after touchdowns. That was Selden who stood stone-faced on baseline after the dunk as teammates mobbed him and the Sprint Center erupted.
"I don't really get too hyped anymore," Selden said. "As a freshman I really let loose. You gotta stay even keel. I knew the game wasn't over at that point."
Baylor guard Ish Wainright made sure to stop Kansas guard Wayne Selden in the postgame handshake line following KU’s 70-66 victory on Friday night at the Sprint Center. He had to say something after Selden posterized him with a dunk midway through the second half.
“I said, ‘I’ll be watching SportsCenter later on today,’ ” said Wainright, a Kansas City native.
Though Wainright later admitted he should have fouled Selden instead of allowing the dunk, he didn’t have any problem giving his opponent props for the play.
“It was respect. We’re all basketball players,” Wainright said. “If you don’t get dunked on, you’re not a basketball player.”
Asked if the Kansas bench had the best celebrations in the country, both Manning and Self chimed in with their takes.
"Most natural reactions, yes. Planned out, no. Monmouth runs away with it," Manning said.
"There's no skits or anything on our sideline. It's just pure hype, pure excitement, natural," Self said.
The best part of Wayne Selden’s furious dunk wasn’t just that it injected life into a lethargic Big 12 Tournament semifinal on Friday at Sprint Center and helped spark top-ranked Kansas to a 70-66 win over Baylor.
“When you see the bench going crazy like that,” he said, “you know that’s energy you’re fueling into the team.”
It wasn’t merely the sheer athleticism that left teammate Jamari Traylor trailing the play thinking “Oh, my God … Oh my God … OH MY GOD” as Selden soared and smashed it home over Baylor’s Ish Wainright.
It wasn’t even the spectacle in the stands of Selden’s uncle Anthony Pitts, oddly adorned with an oversized clock bearing a picture of Selden and being restrained by Selden’s mother, Lavette, and father Wayne Sr.
And it wasn’t Selden’s stone-faced demeanor as he basically dropped the mike and stalked off to a swarm of teammates, a look he attributed to staying on an even keel but quite obviously was for dramatic effect.
Acting like he had been there before, in fact, was hamming it up.
“He probably did that for the cameras,” said guard Devonte’ Graham, who said it seemed like Selden was “mad at the rim.”
For all the considerable theatrics that went into the play, the most meaningful and promising element of it was why it happened.
It stemmed from a sense of self-awareness that could be crucial in the NCAA Tournament for a player who was shut out in KU’s season-ending loss to Wichita State a year ago.
“Recently, I’ve been thinking I’ve just got to jump more,” Selden said, simply. “I haven’t been playing to my athletic ability as much as I should have, and I’ve been thinking just take off and jump, because I have the ability to.”
KC Star Gregorian
At some point in the coming weeks, the best teams in America will separate from the field. Even in balanced years, the elite tend to fight through the weeds and advance. But how?
Stars. Leaders. Someone who decides he’s going to carry a load. The lie about Kansas is that the Jayhawks don’t need that guy because they have so many guys. One night it’s Wayne Selden. Then it’s Perry Ellis. Then Frank Mason. Maybe Devonte' Graham. But the leadership-by-committee approach rarely works in March.
You need a maestro.
Graham is the maestro. In recent weeks, he has demonstrated a remarkable poise and edge in difficult games. Remember, this is a team that hasn’t lost since late January. But it has faced a multitude of challenges throughout this run. Graham is the young talent on this roster who never seems shaken by the moment.
In the first half on Friday, he helped Kansas maintain its lead while Ellis was sidelined by an early foul. In the second half, Graham made important plays on both ends of the floor to help Kansas establish a lead. With his defensive aggression, he subdued a Baylor backcourt that soared against Texas. Graham was the leader in transition. He was a threat from the outside. He made key free throws down the stretch when Baylor launched a late comeback.
And he’s the reason Kansas will excel in any postseason situation it encounters in the coming weeks.
This is becoming Graham’s team. His effort on Friday (14 points, eight assists, four steals) proved as much. Bill Self has a guard he can lean on.
…Ellis isn’t flashy. He doesn’t pump his fists. No big celebrations. But he played like an All-American on Friday. He finished with 20 points and four rebounds.
The ballroom in the Kansas City Marriott Downtown was lined with tape, a makeshift miniature basketball court with a make-believe hoop on one end.
Landen Lucas had just finished eggs and bacon Friday morning when Kansas coach Bill Self wanted to go over the Jayhawks’ new play again. Baylor was going to go to its Amoeba zone later that night, and the Jayhawks were going to be ready for it.
The basics were this: Baylor’s defense leaves one big man in an island on the back line. That leaves the Bears vulnerable to lobs and alley-oops if the Jayhawks can simply screen that man or keep him occupied.
After introducing the play at dinner the night before, Self had his players walk through it. They would never end up practicing it on a real court before top-ranked KU’s 70-66 win over No. 22 Baylor on Friday night in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center.
A run-through on carpet was enough.
“We didn’t convert on all of them,” Lucas said, “but we definitely took advantage of it as best we could.”
As college basketball’s calendar flips into the most important weeks, KU once again had one of its greatest strengths on display during its 13th straight victory Friday.
In a rare off-shooting game for the Jayhawks, they still were able to persevere with help from eight dunks, many of those coming on set-play lobs.
In other words, KU’s coaches — starting with Self — were able to steal points in a game in which offense was often difficult to come by.
…In many ways, Friday’s routine mimicked what KU will go through when the most important games start next week.
The Jayhawks will be in another hotel ballroom — likely in Des Moines — needing to learn how to exploit weaknesses during a breakfast run-through.
The good news? The same coach will be there drawing up plays. And even if a zero-foot hoop made of tape isn’t 100-percent realistic … the Jayhawks have proven that’s all they need to make things work on 10-foot rims later in the day.
“If we can stay in the games,” Lucas said, “eventually he’ll be able to scheme up something.”
Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self didn’t tear into his team at halftime of Friday’s Big 12 Tournament semifinal against Baylor.
He calmly addressed the Jayhawks’ two-point deficit off his team’s lowest scoring output (21) in any half this season.
“I said, ‘Hey, if we don’t want to be here, fine. We’re tired and we can go home and rest. That’s OK. If we’re going to play with this energy and be pouty and be babies, that’s fine. We’ll just regroup and rest an extra day (before NCAA Tournament),’” Self said after the Jayhawks rallied to a 70-66 victory, courtesy of a 49-point second half. “That’s all I said. That was those guys (Jayhawks) coming out and playing better the second half. It had nothing to do with what I said at halftime,” he added.
Nobody who saw Perry Ellis blossom at the Big 12 Tournament three years ago is surprised that he is on the brink of winning tourney Most Outstanding Player honors if Kansas University can take the crown Saturday night at Sprint Center.
College basketball wasn’t always as easy as Ellis, a McDonald’s All-American from Wichita, has made it look lately. For stretches during his freshman season, he looked lost, not unlike current freshman forward Carlton Bragg Jr.
Then the Big 12 Tournament hit in 2013 and Ellis looked like he belonged, averaging 14.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in the three victories. Bragg, whose college career likely will last two or three years and and not four, is having his coming out party on the same Sprint Center floor as Ellis did three years ago.
Bragg had just one double-figures scoring output, 10 points at home vs. TCU, during the regular season. Now he has three.
…Self brought Bragg to the podium after the K-State game and joked it might have been the first time he had given that sort of exposure to player who had just finished a game without getting a single rebound.
Even when he’s drawing laughs, there is a coaching purpose behind Self’s words.
“I took that personally and came in here today and tried to get as many rebounds as possible,” said Bragg, who had seven boards. “I was kind of looking at coach, saying, ‘Yeah!’ Even though he’s joking, I still take it personally. When he says stuff, I want to prove him wrong.”
With Kansas struggling to find energy in the second half, sophomore Devonte’ Graham hoisted a lob pass from behind the arc to freshman Carlton Bragg. Bragg corralled the pass and threw down a statement dunk, lifting the crowd to its feet for the first time in the half.
“Plays like that give us more energy on the court,” Bragg said. “It feels great to get out there and bring energy to the team.”
…Graham tallied five assists in the first 6:51. Graham finished with eight assists, tying his career high for the second consecutive game to go along with 14 points.
The 6-foot-2 sophomore also stepped back to hit a clutch 3 early in the second half to give Kansas (29-4) a five-point advantage. Graham has connected on three or more deep balls in four of his past six contests. The Raleigh, N.C., native is shooting 43 percent from 3-point range this season.
“We weren’t playing well, so we didn’t have all the momentum,” Graham said. “It was a big shot, and I was just trying to get back and play defense after it.”
…Coming into Friday’s game Taurean Prince led Baylor with 15.7 points per game and hadn’t missed scoring in single digits since Jan. 16. With Selden primarily guarding him, KU limited Prince to nine points.
“We locked in on him, he’s a great talent,” Selden said. “Playing a great player, my focus is up a little more. I was ready to play him. It’s always exciting to get a challenge.”
Prince missed eight of his 11 attempts and failed to convert on his six 3-point tries. In Prince’s previous game, he recorded 24 points with two 3s and four assists.
…KU read the Bears’ passing lanes and recorded a season-high 12 steals. Twelve of Baylor’s 13 turnovers were recorded via steal, which led to 14 points for the Jayhawks.
“We actually did a pretty good job defensively the entire game,” coach Bill Self said. “Sometimes guys miss shots, and sometimes you do a pretty good job of taking them out of stuff.”
Graham led the way for KU, picking up four steals. With KU trailing by two to start the half, Lucas stole a pass on the opening possession, which allowed Mason to convert and tie the game. A few possessions later Lucas was at it again, thieving a pass that led to two more points.
Lucas’ second theft gave KU a three-point cushion, helping the Jayhawks build their lead down the stretch. The 6-foot-10 junior recorded a steal in the first half as well, setting a new career high with three.
“I just try to be active, and really however I can help my team I’m happy to do it,” Lucas said. “Coming out of halftime we needed to create more, they were a little too comfortable.”
“I told the staff and I told everybody that I wanted the bench to play in some pressure situations, and I didn’t do it much for the whole game,” said Self, who grew more furious with every foul and turnover his mop-up (supposedly) subs committed.
“We performed miserably out there the last two minutes. I think it’s good. It’s not going to take away from the guys who played the majority of minutes. It’s not going to take away from winning.”
…“I wanted to leave (the subs) all in there, in all honesty, because I wanted them to feel some pressure,” Self said. “It looks a little easier from the sidelines. ...
“I was trying to get everybody some burn going into the NCAA Tournament, but if those situations didn’t exist I would have never subbed. But that was disappointing how we finished.”
…Disconcerting at all for a KU team that takes a 13-game win streak into the tourney final?
Yes and no. Self relies on a shortened bench, particularly this time of year. In addition, several of the subs who underperformed late against Baylor have impacted games quite nicely.
Still, there is little question Mason runs the floor for Kansas, with Graham a secondary contributor in that capacity. Remove Mason and the Jayhawks’ efficiency can dip — considerably.
“It’s so easy from the bench to say ‘I can do that,’ or ‘I can do this,’ but guys got a chance to play and they didn’t do better,” Self added. “That will be humbling to them. They’ll grow from it, and I think it’s fine to have some growing pains like that.”
The answer came with emphasis and did not leave room for debate. You saw it in the way Frank Mason and Landen Lucas left Baylor struggling to put up terrible shots, and you saw it in the way Devonte Graham found Perry Ellis for alley-oops, and you especially saw it in a dunk by Wayne Selden that will be on the Allen Fieldhouse pregame hype video for years.
Kansas is the best team in a weird year for college basketball, and there are people inside the sport who will tell you rankings mean particularly little this season.
But if any doubt remained before No. 1 KU’s 70-66 win over No. 22 Baylor in a Big 12 tournament semifinal on Friday, it has been forgotten and tossed aside like mail addressed to “Current Resident” — Kansas will be the top overall seed when the NCAA Tournament bracket is announced on Sunday.
…Kansas has earned it, too, most obviously by winning the country’s best conference by two games, but also with a deep resume that, depending on a few things this weekend, could include a 19-3 record against the tournament field.
No team has more wins against the RPI top 25 than Kansas, and no team is even close in wins over the top 50. That’s enough for the top overall seed.
KC Star Mellinger
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.
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