KUAD Box Score, Recap, Quotes, Notes, Video
LJW Video and Audio pressers and post-game interviews
ESPN Recap, Video
KC Star Photos
When it’s all going smoothly, this is what Kansas looks like. There’s senior guard Elijah Johnson throwing a left-handed bounce pass through traffic, and there’s Travis Releford receiving the ball near the basket before flipping it back to center Jeff Withey for an uncontested jam.
“That left-handed back-door pass,” KU coach Bill Self would say afterward, “those are pretty special plays.”
This is Kansas, still flashing its early-season potential. It’s Johnson playing with his old explosiveness, bouncing around the court and dishing out assists. It’s Ben McLemore finishing the first half with an alley-oop at the buzzer. And it’s No. 9 Kansas, playing a respectable midmajor opponent after a week layoff, showing up at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday night and running away from Belmont in an 89-60 victory.
Releford and McLemore both finished with 17 points, and freshman Andrew White III came off the bench and scored a career-high 15 points. Johnson filled the stat sheet with seven points, nine assists and five rebounds.
It wasn’t supposed to be this easy. At least, not on paper or the spreadsheet pixels.
Belmont is no small-school patsy. The Bruins have made the NCAA Tournament five times since 2006, and they entered Saturday with a resume that included a 7-2 record and some gaudy numbers in college basketball’s version of the computer rankings. Consider: College basketball stats maven Ken Pomeroy had them ranked No. 23 in his system. (And we’ll pause now to point out that Belmont’s ranking put them ahead of every other Big 12 team except… well, Kansas. About that Big 12 championship streak … )
…Belmont shot just eight of 38 from three-point range. Eight of 38.
“At halftime,” Releford said, “Coach had the stats that they shot 17 (in the first half), and he came out and told us at halftime that they were gonna shoot 35-plus threes. So we gotta come out ready and stay tuned in on defense.”
White’s contribution — including three-of-five shooting from three-point range — came after he spent most of the early season buried on the bench. On Saturday, Self employed White, a three-point specialist, as a pick-and-pop power forward.
“We played him at the four,” Self said. “We tried to use him as a pick-and-pop guy. There’s no way that Belmont could know he could shoot, because statistically he hasn’t yet. But that’s what he does best.”
But Self reserved his highest compliments for Johnson, who now looks fully healthy and comfortable at the point-guard spot after struggling with a knee issue during the season’s opening weeks.
“Elijah was the best player in the game tonight,” Self said. “We can say what we want to, because he only takes seven shots. But he totally controlled the game.
“He got us easy baskets.”
Kansas had a season-high 25 assists against the Bruins.
Andrew White III figures he will get some more playing time for No. 9 Kansas if he starts performing to the same level as Ben McLemore and Travis Releford.
He showed on Saturday night that he can hit the outside shot like them.
Now he just needs to throw down some dunks.
…"I've been working in practice every game, working against these two guys," White said, flanked by McLemore and Releford. "Trying to improve the best I can. It's good to have a good scoring game, but there's a lot of room to improve."
There's a thought that should make future opponents cringe.
The Jayhawks (8-1) used suffocating defense, especially on the perimeter, and peerless transition offense early in the second half to put away the Bruins (6-3), a mid-major darling that's been to the NCAA tournament five of the past seven years.
Kansas shot better than 50 percent from the field and was 10 of 21 from the 3-point line.
"I think we're getting better," said Kansas coach Bill Self, who will be without reserve forward Justin Wesley for the next three weeks after he broke a finger in practice.
"I don't think we're terrific by any means," Self said, "but I think we're getting better."
“I’ve seen him make six or seven in a row (in scrimmage situations), so that didn’t really surprise me tonight,” KU senior point guard Elijah Johnson said after White, KU’s freshman shooting guard/small forward, exploded for a career-high 15 points off 6-of-8 shooting — 3-of-5 from three — while playing just 10 minutes in the Jayhawks’ 89-60 battering of Belmont on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.
“He’s getting better with putting the ball on the floor and actually making a situation, if he has to take a one-dribble pull-up or a floater,” Johnson added. “I’m happy for Drew. He is soaking up the experience more than probably a lot of freshmen right now.”
LJW Rankings: EJ earns top billing
“They are the second-best three-point shooting team in the country, and they got off 38. So that means they missed some open looks, too,” KU coach Bill Self said.
“I’m not going to be too excited about that. What they exposed us on and played to was Jeff’s (Withey) man playing behind the arc. That’s going to be a struggle for us no matter what. I thought Jeff for the most part did a good job (guarding the 6-foot-7 Noack, who had 19 points and eight boards),” Self noted.
…It took Johnson just five seconds to get the ball all the way down the floor to feed it to Ben McLemore, who dunked and was fouled right before the first-half buzzer.
“That was a terrific play to end the half. That was a big-time guard play right there,” Self said.
…KU has won 60 straight games against nonconference teams in Allen Fieldhouse. ... KU has won 27 straight games in Allen.
“I think everyone in our locker room is embarrassed,” Byrd said after the Bruins were throttled, 89-60, by ninth-ranked Kansas University at Allen Fieldhouse. “We are not embarrassed about the Belmont basketball program, but by the performance tonight, and Kansas had a lot to do with that.”
…“We’re just disappointed,” he said. “We feel our program is at the stage where, very often, we give people like this all they want and occasionally sneak a win. We want to get to the point where we are winning a few more, but we just could not make this game competitive.”
... Not surprisingly, Byrd seemed to be impressed most by the man many believe is playing himself into the NBA’s draft lottery, red-shirt freshman Ben McLemore, who finished with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-5 from three-point land.
“If he can rise up and shoot it like that, he is just going to be a bear for anyone to guard,” Byrd said. “That was impressive. Our thought was to approach him under control, get a hand up, and if he makes a shot, they were going to beat us. He’s the real deal for sure.”
If Belmont truly is better than anyone Kansas will face in the Big 12, well, go ahead and engrave the trophy now.
Some might quibble with that assessment, especially after KU blitzed the Bruins on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. Belmont’s statistical profile — the one that had the Bruins ranked No. 23 in one power rating — doesn’t look as glossy after the No. 9 Jayhawks rolled 89-60 to improve to 8-1.
Plenty of good teams have suffered this same fate at Allen Fieldhouse, so declaring Belmont a fraud might be too strong. It’s no stretch to say KU is for real, at least not if the Jayhawks continue at their current pace.
Three years and two seasons into Releford’s career, the 1,000-point prediction had become a punch line. At that point, Releford had just 194 points down, 806 to go.
Looking back on that bold statement, it’s fair to say that if Self could project stock performances as well as he can basketball players, he could turn his millions into billions in no time.
Releford, a tough-to-stop finisher on fast breaks, scored 17 points in Saturday night’s 89-60 victory against Belmont. If you’re scoring at home, that gives Releford 631 career points, leaving him 369 shy of 1,000.
At his current rate of 13.2 points a game, Releford must play 28 more games (37 for the season) to make Self the modern-day Carnac the Magnificent. If Kansas plays three games in the Big 12 tournament, the 37th game of the season would come in the third NCAA Tournament game.
More significant than making the coach’s prediction spot-on, of course, was the wisdom of the decision to remove Releford’s eligibility his second year on campus. Forgive Releford for not always loving the idea. Basketball players love to play basketball and leave the spectating to others.
“At first, when I decided to red-shirt I wasn’t too happy about it because coming into school here, I was one of the guys who was going to play right away and try to make an impact,” Releford said. “When I came in, I realized real fast it wasn’t going to happen for me.”
It’s happening now. Releford ranks third on the team in scoring, first in minutes (32.7 per game) and steals (14) and second in field-goal percentage (.566) and assists (31). Since starting the season 0-for-11 shooting three-pointers, he has made nine of 16.
“He’s doing great,” Self said. “He’s a consistent defender. He’s having fun. He’s becoming more of a consistent scorer. I thought he was really good tonight.”
Self always was high on Releford’s potential. Had he not been, he never would have tied up his scholarship for an extra year by having him sit out a year between his freshman and sophomore seasons and doing it in a way that left Releford feeling as if it were his own decision.
“We talked about my future here, and I agreed with what he was talking about, sat out the year, continued to get better, built up a lot of confidence throughout that and, so far, I think it’s played out best for me,” Releford said.
Except for the whole defying-Newton's-law-of-gravity part, he's human. Like the rest of us, Ben McLemore gets a kick out of watching Ben McLemore dunks on YouTube, too.
"I've got a couple of favorites," the Kansas redshirt freshman guard said after the Jayhawks chewed up Belmont in an 89-60 rout. "I can say I've got actually two favorites. The one from Oregon State — that was a great one. That was one of the best ones.
"Then I think against (San Jose State), when I did the windmill, that one was a great one. I was actually preparing that dunk and telling all my teammates that, ‘If I could just fast break, I'm going to do a windmill.' And that's what I did. I got the fast break, and I got the windmill, and it was crazy."
McLemore smiled at the crazy for the second. Then he nodded over to a spot over on the Allen Fieldhouse floor.
"I always go back and look at that dunk, just to see: ‘How far did I jump out from the box?'" McLemore continued. "It was about from maybe before that second hash mark, so it was pretty far."
While on the subject of far, the last time McLemore, a wiry 6-foot-5, had his vertical leap measured, he said the number checked in at around 40 inches, give or take. That's LeBron James territory, Shawn Kemp territory, Julius Erving territory, the rarest of air.
"Pretty high," said McLemore, who netted 17 points against the Bruins and leads the 8-1 Jayhawks in scoring at 16.1 per game. "But I think it could get higher."
McLemore, who had 17 points, had been KU’s leading scorer, averaging 16 points in the Jayhawks’ first eight games. But he’d also made just 31 percent of his three-point shots. It was a percentage, Self said, that probably didn’t jibe with his ability.
“When he can consistently stretch it,” Self said, “that’ll set up him (driving) and doing some things, and making him a much more efficient offensive player.”
On Saturday, McLemore was pretty efficient. He missed just one of his seven shots and completed an alley-oop-and-one at the halftime buzzer.
“I just give thanks to Elijah for the pass,” McLemore said. “And I just went up and just dunked it real quick and got the foul.”
For now, Self said he’s less concerned with McLemore’s offensive numbers — and more concerned with his aggressiveness on that end of the floor.
“He’s gonna shoot more than seven times probably every game for the rest of the year,” Self said. “But he was patient.”
…Kansas has now won 60 straight games against nonconference opponents at Allen Fieldhouse. The last loss came against Oral Roberts on Nov. 15, 2006.… Jeff Withey had 14 points and five blocks, giving him 50 blocked shots in nine games.… The 38 three-pointers that Belmont attempted tied for the second most all time against Kansas. Kentucky attempted 40 three-pointers on Dec. 9, 1989.
The Kansas basketball coach turns serious. He’s looking for a play card. OK, here.
“Look at this,” he says, holding up a white laminated card with names like two-spin on them. “These are all our plays. One, two, three, four, five…”
He gets to 12. Twelve plays to run against man-to-man defense. Next column over are five plays for zone defense. That’s it. That’s the list. Self thought they’d have at least a few more by now. He wants to double those numbers by the start of conference play. Last season, when the Jayhawks reached the NCAA title game, they had around 40 plays for man defense and 12 for zone by February. He wants to move faster.
This, as much as anything else, is a good illustration of Self’s challenge as the coach of a roster with a rare and extreme split: 86 percent of KU’s minutes and 90 percent of the points are going to freshmen or seniors. There is no middle ground, and so far the freshmen are holding the seniors back more than the seniors are pulling the freshmen along.
“Nope, never had it before,” Self says. “I’ve had all older guys, and I’ve had all young guys. But never like this.”
This is the No. 9 Jayhawks’ biggest challenge. How well they navigate it will go a long way toward deciding whether they become a great team, or merely a good one.
One of the nation’s best coaches goes to work.
…Because freshman Anrio Adams just failed to “pinch” senior Elijah Johnson on a free throw attempt. Echoes be damned.
“I’m going to take you out immediately,” Self yells.
A minute later, and Adams must be listening because he just pinched Johnson hard. Of course, this just gives Self another teaching moment. This time for Johnson.
“You going to let him pinch you like that?” the coach asks.
The differences are subtle, but important. When the freshman messes up, the voice rises, the face reddens, sometimes practice stops. When the senior messes up, he’s more likely to hear a challenge. The older guys say Self makes the same points to everyone, he just makes them louder to the freshmen.
Self says he coaches this team the same as any other, but that’s true only because he coaches every player on every team differently.
…“We’ve gone so slow we’ve bored the older guys,” Self says. “I don’t talk to them about it, but I think it’s frustrating for them. If the younger guys could focus and be sponges more, we could go a little faster. But I don’t think they look at it like that, like, ‘We’re boring those other guys.’ I don’t think they think about it like that.”
This is partly because Self is coaching what he calls “the nicest guys ever.” He does not say this as a compliment. Self likes tough. He likes mean. Sherron Collins and Thomas Robinson are two of Self’s favorite players, and neither won any sportsmanship awards.
So Self tries to find places where the seniors can help the freshmen, or where the freshmen can be scared into helping themselves. When a friend and former NBA executive shows up at practice, Self winks at the man while yelling a fib to the team — the old executive said the Jayhawks don’t guard anyone.
When Johnson turns the ball over, Self points out the mistake and moves on. When McLemore does the same thing, Self stops practice to drive home the point. When Withey misses a rebound, Self challenges his toughness and moves on. When Ellis does the same thing, Self stops practice.
“That’s not going to fly here,” he says.
…A year ago, he wasn’t like this. Not at all. A year ago, his team kept him up at night. He thought they were too wild, didn’t play enough defense, and didn’t trust themselves enough. He told friends he didn’t know whether his team would be any good. Wasn’t just coach-speak. People would tell him the team would end up winning a lot of games, and he’d raise his shoulders and shake his head, like, we’ll see.
On this day, he asks a familiar face for an assessment of his team. Really, really good, he hears. Self nods his head. Throws that play card back in his locker.
“Yeah,” he says. “Me too.”
KC Star Mellinger
The Kansas City radio lineup will get its first 24-hour sports station on the FM dial. Sports Radio 102.5 The Fan is scheduled to launch Jan 2.
The station will feature national programming from the CBS Sports Network as well as Kansas City-area sports from local hosts. The station, a Cumulus property, has operated as comedy station Funny 102.5. The local station joins in the launch of the CBS Sports Radio network. The network officially launches on Jan. 2 with more than 100 stations.
Kansas 2012-13 MBB Schedule
Kansas 2012-13 WBB Schedule
Big 12/College News
Barlow, a sophomore, had scored only 12 points this season and just 18 in his college career.
But the Bulldogs (8-2) put the ball in his hands with 19.3 seconds to go. As the clock ran down, Barlow slowly moved toward the lane, then took a couple of dribbles, stopped and put up a shot that hit the back of the rim and dropped in.
The Hoosiers (9-1) called timeout to set up a play but could only muster a half-court heave from Jordan Hulls. The shot went left of the basket and missed everything, ending one of this season’s best college games.
Rotnei Clarke scored 19 points for Butler and Roosevelt Jones had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists before fouling out with 2:03 left in regulation.
Nine games into the basketball season, Kansas State is exactly where the oddsmakers predicted.
The Wildcats have won seven times as favorites and lost twice as underdogs.
All of their victories have come at home or against teams from small conferences. Both of their losses, including a 68-52 setback against No. 14 Gonzaga on Saturday in front of 16,241 rowdy Bulldogs fans at Key Arena, have come away from home against ranked teams.
Though none of those results can be considered surprising, K-State players were hoping for more after playing Michigan, a national-championship contender, tough for a half in the title game of the NIT Season Tip-Off before losing 71-57. Instead, Saturday’s game unfolded in nearly identical fashion.
Mark Lyons hit a crazy floater, and Florida kept a timeout in the pocket while going for the last-second shot in an epic comeback at the McKale Center. Arizona was down 64-58 at home when Scotty Welbekin hit a three-pointer with 2:44 left in the second half. The Gators would not score again, tossing up a barrage of missed treys and turning the ball over three times as the game slipped away. Solomon Hill dropped 18 for the victorious home team.
“It’s official: The seven non-FBS football schools from the Big East have decided to withdraw from the rest of the league. It was first reported Thursday that the “Catholic 7″ — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova — were leaning toward separating from the FBS football members… What happens next is unclear. It has been reported the schools breaking away will look at Creighton, Xavier, Dayton, Saint Louis and Butler to join a new basketball league.”
The presidents released a statement Saturday:
Earlier today we voted unanimously to pursue an orderly evolution to a foundation of basketball schools that honors the history and tradition on which the Big East was established. Under the current context of conference realignment, we believe pursuing a new basketball framework that builds on this tradition of excellence and competition is the best way forward.
We are grateful to our Commissioner, Michael Aresco, for his exceptional leadership of the Big East Conference. We have been honored to be associated with the outstanding group of institutions that have made up the Big East. While we pursue this opportunity for our institutions, we believe the efforts of the past two years have established the foundation for an enduring national football conference.
We look forward to building this new foundation with an emphasis on elite competition and a commitment to the development of our students engaged in intercollegiate athletics. That is where we will now spend our energy as we move forward.
The great shifts in college athletics can be traced to momentous events.
President Teddy Roosevelt’s sermon to representatives of Harvard, Yale and Princeton convinced early-20th Century football leaders to clean up the game’s dangerous tactics. The next year, in 1906, the forward pass was introduced and mass and gang tackling was banned. The game was saved.
In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled the NCAA could not determine the broadcast television fate of its schools, allowing schools and conference to test the free market and restructure conferences.
The most recent earth-shaking occasion, one that reverberates today and will continue its profound impact on college sports for the foreseeable future, made no grand entrance. It did not present itself as a declaration or ruling, and its effect could not have been projected on the day it happened — three years ago Saturday.
But with the benefit of hindsight we understand today that a three-paragraph statement, issued by the Big Ten on Dec. 15, 2009, changed everything. The pivotal point begins at the second sentence of the second paragraph.
“The COP/C (Council of Presidents/Chancellors) believes that the timing is right for the conference to once again conduct a thorough evaluation for conference structure and expansion. As a result, the commissioner was asked to provide recommendations for consideration for the COP/C over the next 12 to 18 months.”
There it is. Not exactly a passage from the Magna Carta or Gettysburg Address, but the Big Ten’s desire to expand altered the college sports universe, and it continued to spin on Friday with the uncertainty of the Big East’s future.
The Big East’s seven schools that do not play major Division I football — four of them founding members in 1979 — reportedly have agreed to leave the conference, leaving the league in limbo over what remains, exit fees, the future of Madison Square Garden for the basketball tournament, even the Big East name.
It’s the latest drama that has been unceasing since the Big Ten’s statement was issued. The first move — Colorado from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 — didn’t happen for six months.
But there was plenty of realignment frenzy in the preceding months. Who was the Big Ten targeting? Notre Dame? Missouri? Nebraska? Rutgers, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Connecticut, even Texas, all were floated.
Realignment started in earnest in June 2010 and hasn’t stopped.
2012-13 Early Season Events List
Big 12 Composite Schedule
Brannen Greene had a triple double tonight. He is a man amongst boys!
Tift County’s boys are 3-0. That’s newsworthy because every other preseason Top 10 boys team has lost. Kansas signee Brannen Greene, perhaps the state’s best player, has scored 32 points or better in all three Tift victories, and four other players are averaging 10 points or more.
12/11/12 Atlanta JC
If there’s a way to stop North’s Conner Frankamp, Southeast seemed to have it figured out in the first half Friday night, even if they were trailing the Redskins 30-23.
The KU signee went into the locker room with 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting and was visibly frustrated by the Buffaloes’ physical style of play.
Then the second half started.
“Things got away from us,” Southeast coach Melvin Herring said. “It was just lack of discipline, kids not doing what I’m telling them to do.”
Frankamp scored 40 points in a 76-53 win — including 18 in the third quarter — as the Redskins moved to 5-0.
Frankamp hit 10 of 13 shots in the second half, including a four-point play and an authoritative, one-handed dunk on a breakaway before North coach Gary Squires pulled him for good with the Redskins up almost 30 points and just under six minutes left in the game.
Frankamp also went 10 for 10 from the free-throw line.
“I got an easy layup to start the second half and got it going from there,” Frankamp said. “I still try to shoot open shots and stay in the flow of the offense. I didn’t think I played very well in the first half.”
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