A few steps outside his team’s locker room, Wayne Selden was quick to praise teammate Frank Mason following the guard’s 17-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist performance in Kansas’ 69-59 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday night.
“He played like the best point guard in the country,” Selden said.
For a second straight game, Mason was at his best late.
In Monday’s triple-overtime victory over Oklahoma, Mason made three consecutive defensive plays against guard Buddy Hield to help secure the victory. On Saturday, Mason made two 3-pointers and assisted two others during a key seven-minute stretch in the second half, helping KU hold off a Texas Tech team that tied it at 44 with 10:23 remaining.
“The end of the game is when it matters most,” Mason said. “You have to be mentally strong and focused to lock in and get the job done.”
Kansas coach Bill Self still says Mason can give the Jayhawks more, saying his play as of late has only been “OK by Frank’s standards.”
Five days after a classic, No. 1 Kansas was mired in something altogether different, a slogging, fragmented, disheveled, whistle-heavy basketball game on a Saturday night in Lubbock. This was not beautiful or epic or any of the adjectives used to describe the Jayhawks’ triple-overtime victory over Oklahoma at Allen Fieldhouse.
This was a bare-knuckled street fight, and come to think of it, it was the perfect environment for Kansas junior Frank Mason, a guard who could double as a middleweight. Amidst the chaos, Mason came up clutch, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while burying three three-pointers during the decisive second half.
Mason’s performance, on the heels of a marathon defensive effort on Monday, was the primary reason the Jayhawks survived a scare and closed out a 69-59 victory in their annual trip to this basketball horror house in West Texas.
The game’s biggest bucket came after TTU cut the lead to 58-54 with 2:56 left. The Red Raiders surprised the Jayhawks by playing 2-3 zone for the first time all night, and KU hesitated to attack it while wasting valuable seconds.
Self called out a last-second zone play from the sideline with less than 10 on the shot clock. Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason snapped quick passes on the perimeter to find Wayne Selden in the left corner, and his 3-pointer swished through just before the shot-clock buzzer went off.
"Lando (Landen Lucas) set a perfect screen for me," Selden said. "That’s just being older, just paying attention in practice and knowing the stuff we do."
Self got caught up in the emotion. He swung his left fist in a violent fist pump, resembling a boxer trying to finish the fight with a nasty hook.
The gesture was symbolic, as the shot ended up being the knockout blow against TTU, which couldn’t cut the lead under six after that point.
"It was perfect execution," Self said. "Wayne hadn’t made a shot the whole game, and that was just perfect execution to step up and make that."
“Kansas is a good team, a very good defensive team, all praise to them,” said Texas Tech sophomore Justin Gray, who came off the bench for 10 points and a spectacular blocked shot from behind on a Wayne Selden dunk attempt. “But I think we could have gotten this one tonight and we let it get away.”
Still— as the cliche goes — a win is a win, and Saturday’s victory in United Supermarkets Arena, which kept the Jayhawks deadlocked with West Virginia in the league race heading into Tuesday’s 6 p.m. (Central time) battle in Morgantown, might ultimately be just as significant as the home victory vs. OU.
“I think they go hand in hand together. We lose this game tonight, then the OU game doesn’t mean anything,” KU junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. said after struggling to nine points off 4-of-13 shooting. He was 0-for-7 and failed to score the first half.
“We knew if we lost here today it would discredit the Oklahoma win,” Selden added. “We really worked hard for the win. When it came down to it, we wanted to win the game. We got stops and made buckets.”
Next up for West Virginia is Kansas.
No. 1 Kansas, that is.
And what does Kansas mean to you, Devin Williams?
Two things. The first is history, the second making history, because Williams believes “West Virginia is as good as anyone in the country.”
“It makes me think of the past. Andrew Wiggins. Joel Embiid. It makes think of who used to go there back in the day. Wilt, he won a lot,” Williams said.
…“I can’t take nothing away from them,” Williams, the Mountaineers top scorer and rebounder, said. ”I know they won over the past three years.”
They’ve won or shared the Big 12 Conference championship 12 consecutive years and are expected to do so a 13th this season.
While impressed, Williams isn’t exactly backed down by the thought of facing Kansas.
“We are about three or four years into this league now and we are entitled to a championship just like anybody else is,” Williams said. “I think we were one game short of tying last year for the conference championship.”
Actually the Jayhawks won the title with a 13-5 record, while WVU finished at 11-7 in conference play.
But within those 11 victories was a 62-61 win over Kansas in the Coliseum, and the previous season, a rather startling 92-86 Coliseum victory over the Jayhawks in the Coliseum.
Those two wins, in a way, proved what Williams was about to say next.
“They do a good job over there, but a ranking isn’t anything,” Williams said. “Imagine if we were put in the top 10 before school started. What would we be now? We’d be top 5 or top 3. There’s nothing we can do about that number right there now. It’s all political.
“We should feel as disrespected. We are just as good as anyone in the county. I’m not speaking for me. I’m speaking for the starting five through the bench. We can play with anybody in the country. Our coach can outcoach anybody in the country.”
The Kansas name does carry a certain magic with it that especially impresses preseason voters — and, of course, recruits.
But the name on the jersey doesn’t win games.
Through 27 games this season, Rush is averaging 5.7 points per game for the Warriors. While that doesn’t seem a lot, as the season has gone on and injuries have struck the team, Rush’s role within the rotation has been expanded.
In the last three games, he is averaging nearly 13 points per game on 63 percent shooting. When you add in the caveat that a 6’6″ guard has been playing lots of small forward for the Warriors, resulting in nearly five rebounds per game since January started, Brandon Rush might actually be playing the best basketball of his career.
Because of a devastating knee injury in 2012, Golden State Warriors wing Brandon Rush had been robbed of an NBA career -- or so it seemed. On a night when the Warriors soundly beat the Portland Trail Blazers 128-108, we were reminded of how Rush was resurrected, as he scored 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting.
After three seasons in the NBA wilderness, he suddenly has claimed a rotation spot among stars, suddenly joined in on the fun.
Rush stood in the locker room hallway -- for years he often has exited this space sans request for interviews -- and reflected on the grimmer past. "The lowest was getting inactives," he said. "There was a couple games last year I got inactives. A lot of DNPs, so that was pretty much the low of my career."
Nice shirt Alex!
“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
Three games into the Big 12 season, and the 13th-ranked Iowa State men’s basketball team may have already put itself at a major disadvantage.
Despite leading for much of the afternoon, the Cyclones lost at home to Baylor, 94-89, for the second consecutive season as a poor second-half defensive effort undid an otherwise solid performance.
ISU (12-3, 1-2) led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but the Bears (12-3, 2-1) shot 61.3 percent after halftime to wrestle the lead away late.
“The tough thing is we were really in control of the game really for most of the stretches of the game,” ISU coach Steve Prohm said. “You’ve got to close that game. Bottom line.”
Prokhorov has drained his franchise's natural resources – unloading seven first-round and 11 second-round picks in the five-plus years of deposed general manager Billy King's regime. The Nets have no present, no future, no identity. They're too impatient to hire an accomplished NBA GM and slowly, surely work themselves out of this ditch.
As much as anything, that's why Nets CEO Brett Yormark is determined to repackage John Calipari as a franchise savior. The Nets couldn't get star players to sell tickets and TV ratings, so he wants to try a star college coach. Again.
Yormark is pushing Prokhorov to reach back to the Nets' Jersey roots, dust off a failed '90s experiment and sell it as something sparkling and new. Twenty years ago, the Nets stunned everyone with a five-year, $15 million contract for the UMass coach. For Calipari to consider the Nets – and, yes, the Sacramento Kings, too – league sources tell Yahoo Sports that the teams have been informed of his asking price: 10 years, $120 million.
When Calipari spoke with minority ownership in Sacramento last spring, he told them that it would take an offer of $11 million-plus a year to get his attention, league sources said. Calipari turned down a 10-year, $80 million-plus offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, because he wouldn't leave Kentucky with only an incremental raise on what is now an $8 million to $9 million annual package on campus.
Cleveland's offer has become a baseline for Calipari's contractual demands: He wants the 10 years and now the $12 million a year that Phil Jackson makes to run the Knicks.
UNLV men’s basketball head coach Dave Rice has resigned his position and associate head coach Todd Simon will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season, Director of Athletics Tina Kunzer-Murphy announced Sunday.
“Earlier today I met with Dave Rice and after discussing the direction of our season, we mutually agreed that it was time for a change,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “Dave has had a great deal of success during his tenure as our head coach. He loves this University, this community and his players. He will always be a cherished member of the Runnin’ Rebel family and we are grateful for all he has done for this program. However, being winless in conference play and losing five of the last six games is simply not good enough for Runnin’ Rebel basketball.”
Big 12 Composite Schedule & Results
The second annual 810 Varsity Best of the Midwest Showcase tips off at Johnson County Community College on Saturday, January 16, 2016. The all-day event features seven games with schools from Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia, including Father Tolton Catholic and Michael Porter, a consensus top 3 recruit nationally for the 2017 class. Over the summer, Porter cutting down his list to include Kansas, Mizzou, Duke, Kentucky and other national powers.
“Porter has been a special player that you see once in a lifetime,” said 810 Varsity’s Chad Rader of the 6-foot-8 junior. “Kansas and many others have been recruiting him a long time, and for good reason. He's the most highly regarded player nationally to play in Kansas City in a basketball game since Danny Manning.”
The Best of the Midwest Showcase was organized by 810 Varsity, the high school entity affiliated with Sports Radio 810 WHB, in starting a regional event to Kansas City. Among the matchups, the headliner with Blue Valley Northwest – the top team in Kansas Class 6A vs. Father Tolton Catholic and Porter at 8:30 p.m.
Marvin Bagley III has never played a game for Sierra Canyon. But, after transferring from Hillcrest Basketball Academy on Jan. 2, the 6-foot-10 wunderkind (Uncommitted/ No. 1 in 2018) is on the Trailblazers’ roster and is quite possibly the best player in the nation regardless of class. ESPN graded him out at 98, making him the highest player prep in America. His game looks a lot like Harry Giles. He’s an insane athlete and does all the things that a traditional 4-man can do, but the lefty has a jumper and perimeter skills to make him a complete package. If he is cleared by the CIF to play here in Springfield he will be one of the most highly-touted prospects in the history of the tournament.
…The champs are here. For the second time in the last four years the defending champion is back in the field with Oak Hill Academy returning to Springfield for the second time ever. Last year was good to the Warriors as they won all three games by 20 or more points and ultimately finished the season as national runner-up, losing to former TOC champs Montverde Academy in Ben Simmons in the national championship game. OHA picked up a huge summer transfer in Harry Giles, who played for Wesleyan Christian in last year’s TOC, but unfortunately a torn ACL will keep him from making the trip. Fortunately for all involved, there is no shortage of talent as Oak Hill reps no less than 11 D-1 players, eight of which are ranked in the top 150 of their class according to Rivals and that number doesn’t include Giles.
…Rivals ranks Jayson Tatum as the No. 3 prospect in the Class of 2016, but many consider him the best high school player in the nation and the best player to ever come out of St. Louis. If you cheer for the right shade of blue, like me, you’ll be happy to know that Tatum is a future Duke Blue Devil, but he’s put on an absolute scoring clinic in his senior year at Chaminade. The 6-foot-8 wing has a game that screams Kevin Durant and it’s nearly that smooth too. He’s not a freak of nature athlete, but one of the most skilled guys you’ll see.
Bass Pro Tournament of Champions 1/14-1/16
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2016)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube