Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse has long been regarded as one of the loudest arenas in all of college basketball.
For a short time Monday, it became one of the quietest.
Just as they were preparing to tie a bow around their 61-44 victory over Baylor, the Jayhawks received a major scare when leading scorer Ben McLemore turned his ankle while trying to cut up court with the ball.
As McLemore lay on the court, writhing in pain, the crowd of 16,300 fell silent.
…Thirty minutes later, Self and the Jayhawks were all smiles during their postgame news conference. Yes, McLemore had injured his ankle, but it was diagnosed as only a Grade 1 sprain. Self said he’s hopeful McLemore, who averages 16.4 points, will be available for Saturday’s game at Texas.
“He’s all right,” Johnson said after talking with McLemore in the locker room. “He panicked more than anything.”
The rest of Jayhawk Nation did, too -- and for good reason.
With each passing game, it’s obvious KU’s long-term success rests largely with McLemore, who after 16 college games is already being pegged as the potential No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA draft.
A 6-foot-5 guard, McLemore finished with a game-high 17 points Monday, grabbed eight boards and made three steals. He’s now averaging a team-high 16.4 points.
As good as McLemore was against Baylor and as pivotal as he is to KU’s success, the real story Monday was the Jayhawks’ defense. Kansas had as many blocked shots (13) as Baylor did field goals.
…“To see something like that who works hard, you don’t want to see anything bad happen to him,” Johnson said of McLemore. “He tries to do everything right. I just don’t feel like he deserves to be hurt right now or to be cheated out of playing. I feel like he’s been cheated out of playing long enough.”
Johnson was referring to the 2011-12 season, when McLemore was forced to sit out because of questions surrounding his high school transcripts.
“He’ll be all right,” Johnson said. “Ben will bounce back, I’m sure."
ESPN Jason King
KUAD Box Score, Recap, Quotes, Notes, Video
LJW Video and Audio pressers and post-game interviews
ESPN Recap, Video
KC Star Photos
1/14/13, 8:02 PM
KU game to be shown in its entirety. Big East must have just played one half.
1/14/13, 8:04 PM
1/14/13, 8:06 PM
“@Nick_Hertzog: I wonder if @J30_RANDLE is watching this KU game #ESPN #RockChalk” I'm tuned in !
1/14/13, 8:08 PM
Field house rocking!
1/14/13, 8:09 PM
Ready to watch KU win tonight! #RCJH
1/14/13, 8:12 PM
I'm now convinced that #Jayhawk students have surpassed #Duke students as the most spirited student fan base
https://twitter.com/coachjaydemings (Cheer sheets? We don't need no stinkin' cheer sheets)
1/14/13, 8:12 PM
Jeff Withey not being voted preseason Big 12 POY pretty much makes my point about Defensive Attention Deficit (DAD).
1/14/13, 8:10 PM
Dear Kansas fan with the Catherine O’Hara-themed “Kevin!” (Young) poster: You’re doing the lord’s work.
https://twitter.com/eamonnbrennan (Photo. We need a photo!)
1/14/13, 8:55 PM
Elbow rule is among the dumbest in sports--#KUBB -- Releford executed the exact way you are now taught--so dumb
1/14/13, 8:59 PM
Baylor basketball tonight: Dress like Oregon, play like UMKC.
1/14/13, 8:59 PM
“@qmillertime: Kansas always gets the craziest calls smh @Trobinson0 @tyshawntaylor” lol home court advantage
1/14/13, 9:02 PM
Death, taxes, and Bill Self.
1/14/13, 9:45 PM
Scott Drew holding up hand signals, but like Peyton Manning gesturing at the line of scrimmage, it usually doesn't mean anything.
1/14/13, 9:47 PM
Is Baylor's goal to win the conference? If so, why is Scott Drew still the coach? He'll never get MORE talent than he's had.
1/14/13, 9:49 PM
I don't like Perry Ellis' game right now, which of course means in 3 years he will be a lotto-that is how KU guys develop
1/14/13, 9:53 PM
Student section at AFH #bestinthecountry. Appreciate the love
1/14/13, 9:57 PM
McLemore goes down for KU. Looks like an ankle. AFH silent.
1/14/13, 10:14 PM
Anyone changing their No. 1 votes? #KansasIsReallyReallyGood
On Monday night, with a capacity crowd in the old barn, No. 4 Kansas came home and buried Baylor 61-44 in a dominating performance against a team many thought would be the Jayhawks’ most worthy challenger in the Big 12 race.
This was a knockout — perhaps a sloppy one — but a technical beatdown, nonetheless. Baylor entered with one of the most dangerous offenses in the nation. And three days after a lackluster effort at Texas Tech, Kansas squeezed the life out of a previously undefeated Big 12 opponent.
“Tonight was different,” KU senior guard Elijah Johnson said. “I’m pretty sure everyone knows it’s different playing in Texas Tech’s arena and the fieldhouse. And (with) the crowd, you have no choice. Big game (and) you remember what happened last time.”
…More than that, Kansas reclaimed a semblance of its defensive identity, limiting Baylor to 23.2-percent shooting for the game. More bad math: Baylor connected on just nine of 42 from two-point range, and with KU center Jeff Withey anchoring the paint, the Jayhawks finished with as many blocks (13) as Baylor had field goals.
“He changes so much stuff,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
It was that ugly all night.
It may be subtle, but Kansas guard Elijah Johnson believes freshman Perry Ellis is close to taking a step forward as he works through his rookie growing pains.
Ellis came off the bench and finished with six points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes Monday. He connected on just three of his nine shots but played with poise and assertiveness in the paint against Baylor freshman Isaiah Austin, a fellow blue-chip recruit.
“I like it, I like it,” Johnson said. “He was begging for the ball.”
…Kansas’ limited Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson to just 10 points on two-of-12 shooting. Baylor’s 44 points were the fewest Kansas has allowed in a conference game since Nebraska scored 39 on Feb. 17, 2007.
With 16,300 fans cramming into Allen Fieldhouse for Monday’s Baylor-Kansas showdown, the ones sitting closest to courtside found themselves in grave danger.
Hard hats and protective vests would have been in order.
The Jayhawks swatted away Baylor shots at an alarming rate, leaving balls flying everywhere.
Blocking 10 first-half shots, the No. 4 Jayhawks blew out to a 13-point lead before romping to a 61-44 win to keep their record perfect against the Bears in Lawrence at 11-0.
"We knew that the home court was going to be to the advantage of Kansas," freshman forward Rico Gathers said. "I knew it's one of the toughest places to play in college basketball and all of basketball. I already knew what to expect. But, defensively, I felt the home-court advantage played to their side. We're in their place, so we knew we weren't gonna get calls anyway."
On another one of those nights in which the Baylor basketball team looked more like a collection of all-stars thrown together at the last minute than like a squad that tries to build chemistry 365 days a year, Kansas University played defense in a way that made it seem as if its players were reading minds.
Baylor called a play, and Kansas looked more sure about the moving parts than the guys running it.
…Kansas has a long body anchored by quick feet at every position, so it should play strong defense. But more than that enters the equation. Travis Releford, KU’s best perimeter defender, offered insight on another factor that had more to do with preparation and alert minds than with physical attributes.
“First of all, you’ve got to give credit to our assistant coaches for doing a great job on our scouting report on their plays and play-calling,” Releford said. “We did a lot of work on that in practice. Once they called a play, we were all in tune. We knew who was trying to get the ball on certain plays.”
That knowledge led to Kansas making steals in the passing lanes and knocking the ball away in the lane for steals. It also resulted in purposeful help defense arriving on time.
College basketball coaches armed with three chief assistants assign one man to scout each opponent on a rotating basis. Most programs have each assistant do every third game. Kansas coach Bill Self has his assistants assigned to the same schools year in and year out, regardless of how the schedule falls.
Kurtis Townsend always scouts Baylor.
“The thing about it is, when you’ve been in the league a long time, over the years you get a pretty good feel for the teams, and I think they had a pretty good feel for us,” Self said.
“I’m more happy with our team for how we went through this swing of games in eight days,’’ Johnson said of the four wins KU posted over that span. “We handled it well. I’m proud of our team for being able to stand up and keep playing and ignore the fatigue in our bodies.’’
The Jayhawks ignored to the extent they held Baylor to its lowest output since 1994. The last KU opponent to score fewer points was Nebraska in 2007, when it managed 39.
Maybe KU is blessed to have Doc Sadler on its staff. Better yet, it is blessed to have talent superior to any team in the Big 12. Talent that appears to be buying into some of the defensive principles Self always emphasizes.
If, indeed, the Jayhawks can apply themselves consistently on that end, they are only going to get better. As it is, they’re ranked fourth and on a 14-game winning streak.
“That’s pretty good defense from start to finish for the most part,’’ Self said. “We had a lot of guys block shots and that’s the most active we’ve been with our hands as far as raking and stealing the ball.’’
Not much artistry. Just intensity.
Enough to make Baylor wilt. Enough to make you wonder just how many more times the Jayhawks’ perch atop the Big 12 standings will be threatened. They’re three games into league play and ahead at 3-0.
Kansas coach Bill Self likes playing on ESPN Big Monday even with a quick turnaround. KU won at Texas Tech on Saturday and played Baylor two days later.
“I think it’s the best way to showcase our league each and every week. I think the players enjoy it. I’m sure all players across the league do,” Self said. “The two-day turnaround (playing Saturday at Texas Tech and Monday at home) ... we’ve done it a lot. This is the first time this team has done it. Whenever you play a team that does multiple things and only have about an hour of practice, it always makes it nervous for a coach. That’s the case when you play Saturday and then a Monday. It only gives you about an hour in which your teams actually practice (Sunday). You really have to make the most of that hour.”
…KU, which was ranked fourth in the country on Monday, received one first place vote — from best-selling author and GolfChannel and ESPN regular John Feinstein. Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis was the lone voter to rank KU second.
“Kansas has the most impressive win of the year: At Ohio State, as Michigan found out,” Feinstein told the Journal-World’s Tom Keegan in an e-mail exchange. “Bunch of one-loss teams. I give them the edge because of that.”
Keegan ranked KU third. Louisville is first, Indiana second, Duke third and KU fourth.
Listed at 7-foot-1, Baylor freshman Isaiah Austin might be the only player in the Big 12 capable of looking at Kansas’ Jeff Withey from above eye level.
When Austin drove in the paint, though, he got the same treatment as everyone else wearing Baylor green. Despite giving up five inches, KU’s Perry Ellis sent Austin’s shot back from whence it came, one of 13 blocks for the No. 4 Jayhawks in a 61-44 victory against the Bears on Big Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.
LJW Rankings: Ben McLemore gives complete performance against Baylor
I have been saying this on the air since late November but I must repeat it in print: The Pistons need Ben McLemore. The redshirt freshman guard from Kansas is an absolute stud and would be the perfect fit for this basketball team next season. He is athletic, he is a winner, and McLemore is exactly what Detroit needs. The Pistons are making some progress, but they still lack that wing player that can make a major difference. Trust me when I tell you, McLemore is that guy.
Kansas is number 4 in the country right now for a lot of reasons. The Jayhawks are once again the class of the Big 12 and Bill Self always seems to get the most out of his players. But it is McLemore that makes them a viable National Championship contender. He’s 6-5 with some serious hops, but is also very smooth on the floor and plays with smarts that Joe Dumars always looks for in a college prospect. Last night against Baylor, he barely touched the ball in the first 7-8 minutes of the game. The team was rolling and he was doing the little things, screening and rebounding, before he really got into the flow of the game. Then, boom. A little runner in the lane and then he knocks down a corner three off of a loose ball situation. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla pointed out during the broadcast just how good his form is when #23 squares up to shoot a jumper.
So being the first freshman this year to be named Big 12 Player of the Week may have been a relatively insignificant accolade. But McLemore, who was named Big 12 Freshman of the Week on Dec. 24, does join an elite group of players by earning the honor. Only three other players in Big 12 history have ever been named the conference’s player of the week and freshman of the week in the same season — Texas’ Kevin Durant, Kansas State’s Michael Beasley and Kansas’ Mario Chalmers.
McLemore helped Kansas win its first two games in Big 12 play last week, beginning with the thrilling, 97-89 victory over the Cyclones. The Jayhawks trailed by four points in the final minute but were able to force an extra five-minute period, thanks to McLemore’s three-pointer off the window with six seconds left to tie teh game at 79. He went 10-for-12 from the floor while hitting all six of his three-point attempts and seven attempts from the free throw line.
Dallas Morning News
Bill Self has won many awards, earned many accolades and garnered many honors.
Add another to the list.
During a luncheon Tuesday, Self will be announced as one of this year's seven inductees into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. The basketball coach at Kansas will be inducted in August and join a roster that already includes the likes of Jim Thorpe, Mickey Mantle and Barry Sanders.
And you'd better believe that this honor means something to Self.
Oh, the self-deprecating coach has joked to friends that no halls of fame would have anything to do with him. But for an Oklahoma native who is fiercely loyal to his home state, being included in this state's roll call of sports greats is a thrill.
Self, who was born in Okmulgee, graduated from Edmond Memorial High School, then played at Oklahoma State, has never forgotten from whence he came.
Just ask one of the men who knows him best — his former basketball coach at Edmond Memorial.
“I think one of the most refreshing things about Bill Self is that throughout all of this success,” Mike de la Garza said, “he is still the same guy that I knew when he was in high school.”
You hear that often about people who make it big, don't you? He hasn't changed. He hasn't gone big time.
About half the time, it rings hollow.
But in this case, it seems true.
Self counts his high school buddies as some of his best friends in the world. Jay Davis, for example, graduated Edmond High a year after Self, but more than three decades after they played high school ball together, they remain close.
De la Garza tells a story about his son. Scott de la Garza was in middle school when Self was in high school, and the youngster idolized Self. He wanted to play like him, dribble like him, shoot like him, be like him.
It would've been really easy for Self to dismiss someone so much younger.
Instead, the two became friends, and even now, they remain close.
… At Kansas, Self has one of the top jobs in the country at one of the best programs in college basketball. He has a winning percentage that is better than any other coach in Jayhawk history, including Roy Williams, Larry Brown and the inventor of the game of basketball, James Naismith. He won one national title and played for another. He lands top-notch recruits. He produces NBA-caliber players.
“He's really at the zenith of college basketball,” de la Garza said.
Hard to argue that.
But Self remains strongly connected to his home state. While the evidence is growing that he may never coach again in Oklahoma — he has signed a long-term contract that would keep him at Kansas until at least 2022 — he is still proud to be an Oklahoman. That's why this Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame induction means something significant to Self.
Even though it's unlikely to be his last hall of fame, it's sure to always be a favorite.
The window in the back that was always open wouldn't budge, and the key no longer worked in the front door. Jamari Traylor had been kicked out of his home before, but this time his mother was serious.
The anger and angst of a rebellious 15-year-old had become too much.
Traylor couldn't call his father, who was serving a life sentence in prison, and he couldn't stay with his best friend, whose parents had asked Traylor to leave after discovering him asleep on their son's bedroom floor.
With temperatures in the 20s and nowhere to go, Traylor began to walk. Hours passed as he snaked through his neighborhood near 27th and State Street in Chicago's South Side, wearing a baggy, polyester coat with no mittens or earmuffs. It was December of 2008, just before Christmas, and tears welled in Traylor's eyes.
"My fingers and toes were burning," Traylor said. "They felt like they were going to explode. I was literally crying because it hurt so bad. It was the worst feeling in the world.
"I was just so cold."
Traylor came upon a car wash that had been abandoned for months. A white, rusty, 80s-model Buick was parked in one of the cleaning stations, and a window was cracked. The 6-foot-7 Traylor forced it down, crawled through the opening and into the back seat.
Knees at his chest, the high school sophomore draped his coat over his legs, drew his arms up into the sleeves, and attempted to fall asleep.
"If I die tonight," Traylor thought to himself, "would anyone even know? Would anyone care? Nobody cares about me. Nobody cares about me at all."
As a redshirt freshman on the Kansas basketball team, Traylor rarely walks to class without strangers honking their horns and waving.
A few weeks ago he ordered a pizza from Pickleman's, and when he opened the box, a caricature of Traylor blocking a shot was etched on the cardboard. Apparently the restaurant's manager was an artist -- and a fan.
"Everywhere I go, people come up to me and tell me how glad they are that I'm here," Traylor said. "I'm like, 'Really? You're happy for me? I'm just Jamari.'
"The past year has been the best year of my life. It almost feels surreal, especially considering where I came from."
Even with his height and athleticism, no one could've predicted this future for Traylor. Homeless teenagers with drug-dealing fathers usually don't earn high school diplomas. Kids who split time between juvenile detention centers and classrooms rarely end up in college.
And guys who didn't begin playing basketball until they were 16 simply aren't recruited by the second-winningest program in history.
"That's what makes Jamari's story so remarkable," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "If there was ever a kid that had an excuse not to make it, he would be that kid."
More from ESPN Jason King, including video at the link
Kings forward Thomas Robinson was involved in a car accident after Monday's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I was alerted of the accident via Twitter and checked out the scene. By time I arrived the other car that was involved was gone and Robinson was sitting in another car.
Robinson didn't get out of the car and put it in reverse and backed away from the scene. Robinson, I'm told, was not injured.
A person with Robinson tried to prevent Bee photographer Hector Amezcua from photographing the white Porsche that was still facing the wrong way in the turning lane at the intersection of Del Paso Ave. and Broadgate.
The airbags in the car had been deployed and there was damage to the front of the car.
In a town that saw what happened to Bobby Hurley years ago, there is a heightened sense to these things. Fortunately, it appears Robinson is OK.
There should be an update from today's practice later today. Media availability at the facility begins at 1:30 p.m.
*Robinson has been playing the best basketball of his rookie season lately. He's averaging eight points on 52.8 shooting nine rebounds in his last five games.
Kansas 2012-13 MBB Schedule
Kansas 2012-13 WBB Schedule