KUAD Postgame notes, recap
KUAD Box Score
KC Star Photos
AUDIO: Bob Davis/Greg Gurley KU vs OSU
VIDEOS: The ‘timeout’ rumble, Selden walking over Smart technical
VIDEO: Clark swipes at Mason’s head
Joel Embiid looks like the number 1 pick today. Dominating on both ends and showing a great offensive game. #jayhawks
Love watching a true old school center play in Kansas' Joel Embiid. Such a rare big man will be very hard to pass up in the next NBA Draft.
@ESPNDanaOneil No better atmosphere than Kansas.
I have never seen a double foul called on a block charge. Can they do that?
Now we have a double foul called. Feel like officials need yellow and red cards.
Looks like an Academy Award may be coming Marcus Smart's way.
Selden gets a flagrant foul. God, I'm afraid I'm going to get T'd up for typos.
Anthony Bennett, last years top pick, would be the fourth best player in this Kansas/OSU game
Great win for Kansas but Wiggins was a total no show. This was a man's game and he wasn't ready for it
One last defensive strip by Mason seals it for Kansas. What a great great game. Let's do it at least twice more.
I see you KU!! Big win today #Ku #RockChalk
Great game tonight from my squad. Rock chalk Jayhawk
!!!!!!“@phoggg: Naadir is cold blooded
Another good win....let's keep this up. Rock Chalk!
Damn good defense! Great win for the boys. #RockChalk
Giving me a heart attack but great win!!! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Rising Star Joel Embiid 13/11/8 of Rock Chalk Jayhawk land!- will be # 1 pick NBA draf
KU's Naadir Tharpe has scored 44 points on 14 of 17 shooting in his last two games v. Okie State and Iowa State. Pretty darn good.
Seven 3-pointers by Phil Forte today most by any player in #Big12 conf. play so far this year.
1/18/14, 7:41 PM
#Kucmb 4-0 only getting better
Great team win today!! Loved the energy in the Fieldhouse... And s/o to @AaronRodgers12 for coming through the past couple of days.
Kansas became the 1st school to win 3 straight regular-season games vs ranked opponents since Louisville in January 2009 via @EliasSports
Joel Embiid of @KUHoops is first freshman in #Big12 history to have 10+ pts, 10+ rebs and eight blocks in a game.
We've got some great stuff on JoJo Embiid for Big Monday vs. Baylor. Been working on it since Dec. Eye-opening. His rise has been coming!
"You're going to be the No. 1 pick," is what Self told Embiid "as soon as he stepped on campus," Self recalled Saturday after his 15th-ranked Jayhawks held-on for an 80-78 victory over ninth-ranked Oklahoma State here at a soldout Allen Fieldhouse that hosted 28 NBA scouts (plus Super Bowl MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers), and the interesting thing about that quote is that without context it's misleading and with context it's proof that Embiid is progressing faster than the coaches who knew and loved him best ever even imagined.
Let me explain.
Yes, Self meant what he said about Embiid being the No. 1 pick. But Self figured it'd be in the2015 NBA Draft or maybe even the 2016 NBA Draft, meaning his preseason message was basically that Embiid would someday be college basketball's most coveted pro prospect if he stayed in school two or three years, worked really hard and developed. Fast-forward to the present, and it's becoming more obvious by the game that Self might've underestimated the timeline because Embiid seems capable of accomplishing in two or three months what most thought could take two or three years.
…"I always have the same mindset," Embiid said. "Just do my job."
There's no sense in Embiid changing that mindset now that he's doing his job so well, and the scariest thing for the rest of the Big 12 is that he's likely to get better. Also scary: KU just beat a consensus top-10 opponent while getting a combined nine points from its two leading scorers, meaning the Jayhawks weren't clicking to their potential even when they built a 19-point lead late in a first half that featured three technical fouls and one scuffle.
"[Oklahoma State] did a lot of talking and shoving and stuff like that," said Kansas junior Naadir Tharpe, who was 7-of-8 from the field and finished with a team-high 21 points and six assists. "We came back and we just attacked them, and that's what we needed to do."
Block No. 1
Embiid made his presence protecting the rim felt 70 seconds into the game. Le’Bryan Nash got one step on Andrew Wiggins and attacked the rim for a would-be layup. Just before the ball hit the backboard, Embiid rotated off his man and blocked the shot out of bounds.
Block No. 2
This block came with controversy.
After a switch on a screen, Marcus Smart beat Perry Ellis into the lane. Embiid left his feet to block Smart, who flipped a pass to Kamari Murphy. Wayne Selden forced Murphy to pump fake, allowing Embiid to recover in time to make a play on the ball. Embiid’s hand, however, went through the basket for a block on Murphy, who was going to dunk the ball. If a hand goes through the basket to block a shot, officials are supposed to rule goal tending.
Block No. 3
Embiid helped KU build on its growing momentum with his third block at the 1:30 mark of the first half. Markel Brown beat Ellis down the middle of the lane. Embiid’s presence alone forced Brown to attempt an awkward left-handed layup, which Embiid blocked out of bounds.
Block No. 4
Early in the second half, Embiid and Ellis trapped Nash on the baseline. Nash spun out of the double team, past Ellis and attempted a reverse layup. Embiid followed Nash the whole way, blocking the shot and keeping it in bounds.
Block No. 5
The Cowboys pushed the ball up the court after Embiid assisted a Perry Ellis alley-oop.
Nash spun to create space with Ellis guarding him. Embiid was waiting for Nash at the rim, blocked the shot with his left hand and kept it in play.
Block No. 6
In transition, Nash had the ball on the wing, defended by Embiid. Nash drove the ball, took a jump stop right into Embiid’s chest and missed a contested layup. Nash got his own rebound and went back up for a difficult layup in a crowded paint. Embiid didn’t jump, blocking Nash while standing straight up, then got the rebound. He also threw an elbow after getting the rebound, which earned him a technical foul — his third in three games.
Block No. 7
With 12 minutes left, Marcus Smart drove passed Jamari Traylor into the lane. Smart saw Embiid waiting under the basket and tried to adjust to get a clean shot off. Embiid’s reach was too much. He got the block and the rebound. If Smart made the layup, the score would have read “Kansas 57, Oklahoma State 53.” Instead, Embiid scored on the next possession, and Kansas got a bit of separation on a Cowboys team that had clawed back into the game.
Block No. 8
Embiid’s last was his loudest. Smart drove with Traylor guarding him, shooting a running floater. Embiid went straight up for the block, met the ball at the top of his jump, launched his arm forward and sent the ball flying to mid-court.
Allen Fieldhouse exploded after the play.
If there was any doubt remaining as to how good Joel Embiid is right now and how good he could be with some more seasoning, those questions should have been put to rest on Saturday afternoon.
Kansas’ 7-foot freshman out of The Rock School (Fla.) by way of Cameroon had a career effort against Oklahoma St. and he did it in front of a CBS audience, finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks as the Jayhawks outlasted probable 2014 Lottery pick Marcus Smart and the Cowboys, 80-78, at Allen Fieldhouse.
That monster effort prompted DraftExpress to move Embiid to No. 1 in its 2014 NBA Mock Draft on Saturday evening, with Jayhawks classmate Andrew Wiggins at No. 2 and Duke freshman sensation Jabari Parker No. 3. That order echoes that of ESPN’s Chad Ford, whose Big Board was recently changed to reflect a top 3 of Embiid, Wiggins and Parker.
When Wiggins scored three points in Saturday's 80-78 victory over No. 9 Oklahoma State, the loudest reaction to this was not whether it mattered to KU's pursuit of the 2014 Final Four. It was how this affected Wiggins' standing as an NBA prospect.
On his Twitter account, ESPN analyst Jeff Goodman quoted an NBA general manager as saying, "Really would like to see Andrew Wiggins do something in this game. Push envelope."
Which is precisely what Wiggins should not have done.
Oklahoma State's entire defense was designed to mute the impact Wiggins' athleticism would have upon the game. The Cowboys mostly switched between 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones in the halfcourt, and they played an extended 1-3-1 zone press to test KU guards' decision-making.
The 1-3-1 made it pretty much impossible for Wiggins to find driving lanes. He made one 3-pointer off a nice dribble move, but those are hard to generate against that zone from Wiggins' preferred spots, and catch-and-shoot is not his game. Oklahoma State's zone was vulnerable to either side of the foul circle, which helped guard Naadir Tharpe and Wayne Selden combine for 16 first-half points; and along the baseline, where Jayhawks reserves Tarik Black and Jamari Traylor punished the Cowboys with 13 points in an 18-8 surge the led to a 17-point halftime advantage.
In the second half, KU made 12 of its 18 shots. That Wiggins did not contribute to that was a non-issue. It might have been nice if coach Bill Self involved Wiggins in advancing the ball since Tharpe and Selden were butchering the job, but Self did not make that call, and Wiggins did what he was told.
Make no mistake, this was a weak performance. But it was a winning performance, at the very least in the sense Wiggins did not get in the way. That might not suit those scouts who've come to believe the college game is played strictly for their benefit, but if they can't recognize a player operating within a team concept they're not fit to be evaluating talent, anyway.
TSN DeCourcy: Andrew Wiggins plays for Kansas, not NBA scouts
Once upon a time, a long three weeks ago, the Kansas basketball team kept hearing the same question:
What’s wrong with the Jayhawks?
…Now, Kansas is starting to look exactly like what everyone thought it would be this season -- a Final Four team.
The Jayhawks topped Oklahoma State 80-78 in a game that could be best described as bizarre. Kansas looked unbeatable in the first half and unglued in the second; the Cowboys were unglued in the first, nearly unbeatable in the second, and the officials got to dig into their grab bag of calls, whistling six technical fouls, a double foul and a flagrant 1 foul (they missed hitting for the cycle by a flagrant 2).
Andrew Wiggins scored three points, took five shots and generally spent the better part of his 23 minutes on the court in some sort of invisibility cloak.
…It all made no sense and yet in the bigger picture it makes perfect sense because Kansas is doing what good teams, special teams, Final Four teams do: finding ways to win.
…Self won’t say the riddle is solved. No coach in his right mind would, not at least in January. And after the second half, when Kansas tried to undo all the really good it did, he’s got cinematic evidence of the Jayhawk’s shortcomings to share with his team.
…Now those who own half-empty chalices will point out that Kansas was as bad in the second half as it was good in the first and not be inaccurate. Oklahoma State outscored KU 48-33, and the Jayhawks decided throwing the ball cross-court to no one was a terrific idea.
Had Frank Mason not stripped Le'Bryan Nash in the final seconds, well, who knows how this one might have ended?
But he did and it didn’t and here we are.
And here is that part of the season where we are trying to figure out just which tournament teams we trust and which we don’t. What teams not only have the pieces to succeed, but are actually starting to fit them together? What teams look like smart picks for a deep March run?
Check Kansas in every box.
“I see everybody smiling,” Tharpe said. “You know, you see a play happen when there’s a timeout and everybody is getting off the bench and everybody’s excited. I think everybody is just starting to understand this is how Kansas basketball is supposed to be played.”
Le'Bryan Nash hurried the ball upcourt, not by design but by necessity.
The ninth-ranked Cowboys were down two points, the clock under five seconds and OSU out of timeouts, all used up trying to recover from what once was a 19-point deficit.
Nash was dribbling upstream. He's not overly comfortable handling the ball in the open court, anyway, much less through the fog of Allen Fieldhouse's ghosts and the pandemonium of its frenzied fans and OSU foul trouble and the oppression that is Kansas basketball.
Nash saw the clock approach zero, pulled up just outside the 3-point line and went up for a shot that could have lived forever in OSU lore.
But KU's Frank Mason cleanly stripped the ball from Nash's hands, and the 15th-ranked Jayhawks had an 80-78 victory that should leave the Cowboys feeling worse than ever about their Big 12 title hopes but better than ever about their NCAA Tournament chances.
“We are rivals, both tough teams. We are not soft,” Black said after a game in which KU’s Jamari Traylor, Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden were given T's, as well as Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown (2) and Stevie Clark.
“Stuff is going to happen, especially two teams like that in a game as important as this. We never expect to be perfect. It comes with being a tough team,” Black added.
…A big play took place when OSU’s Marcus Smart stole the ball from Tharpe, and Tharpe stole it right back with KU up, 59-56. Tharpe followed the sequence by hitting a three and stretching KU’s lead to six with 10 minutes left.
“That was big because I don’t like getting the ball stolen from me at all, especially off of the dribble. It kind of hit off my leg and then he ripped it from me, but I knew he didn’t have a chance to run and I was still right there so I just tried to get a jump ball and rip it back away and luckily I was able to get it back and we came out with a basket,” Tharpe said as KU avoided completely squandering a game-high lead of 19 points.
Broken thumb: KU sophomore Evan Manning broke his right thumb at practice this week and will be out three weeks, Self stated.
No foul: Self said he didn’t consider fouling OSU on its final possession. KU had four team fouls as Le’Bryan Nash raced down court with five seconds left and OSU down by two. Self said the Jayhawks hadn’t practiced such a situation, thus wouldn’t do that in a game until it had been addressed at practice.
…Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, plus former KU players Elijah Johnson, Jordan Juenemann, Bryant Nash, Tyrel Reed, Dave Robisch, Wayne Simien, Kevin Young, Jeff Graves and Tyrone Appleton. Former KU forward Paul Pierce had a taped segment on the video board in which he said, “Beware of the Phog.”
“We started to relax instead of keeping on being aggressive, and that’s why you saw us get more turnovers,” Tharpe said. “We could have easily just folded and let it get away.”
So even though Tharpe’s sloppiness was a significant part of why it became a close game, every time the Cowboys began to catch a glimpse of the lead Tharpe was there with an enormous, difference-making play. He was the team’s leader in scoring (21 points) and assists (six) and steals (three). If only he’d concentrated for a longer period of time, this might have been the game that convinced everyone, including his teammates and coach, that Tharpe is capable of championship-level performances.
…“Naadir played great,” Self said. “I have a hard time getting guys to understand—he should have taken more shots. He turned down a couple shots. He steps out of bounds when he’s wide open because he’s trying to make a play that’s not there. Sometimes you scratch your head with some of the decisions.
“Of course he made big shots. Every time they got close he had an answer. But the ball stuck a lot, too. When the ball sticks, other players don’t get a chance to get involved. We didn’t get the ball inside, do some things in large part because we watched Naadir hold the ball the majority of the possession.
“I’m thrilled to death with him. I think he’s doing great. But I do think he can do more things to put us in position to have a better chance to look good as a unit.”
Of course, Tharpe was going against Smart, five inches taller at 6-4 and a powerful defensive presence who can change games with his ability to steal the ball from opponents.
…“This is an emotional game. You play it with your heart, feet, body and all of that,” Smart said. “You had two teams going at it that are very good teams and very talented players, so obviously you’re going to have emotions flying everywhere.”
If only the Cowboys had been soaring from the start. “We definitely should have come out in the first half, but we are on the road and it didn’t happen that way,” Smart said. “We learned from it. It’s incredible coming into this gym, this hostile environment, down 19 and coming all the way back, clawing all the way to single digits and having a chance at the end. It’s a moral victory for us.”
A moral victory? For a top-10 team? It all depends on your perspective.
The funny thing about sports is that the story lines, manufactured or otherwise, often have a tendency to hinge on a few plays that really could have gone either way. And after 40 minutes Saturday, the complete picture on KU was a little muddy.
For one half, in an emotionally charged atmosphere at Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks looked like a Final Four juggernaut. They dominated inside, outscoring the Cowboys 22-4 in the paint. They built a 47-30 lead. They held Oklahoma State to 30.8 shooting.
For another half, they almost let the game slip away. On the sideline, Self was having flashbacks to last season's NCAA tournament collapse against Michigan in the Sweet 16.
“It’s an eerie feeling,” Self said, “but that was the same game.”
Oklahoma State’s Phil Forte hit seven three-pointers. Smart drew a suspect flagrant foul when Selden tried to clear some space with an elbow with 1:31 left.
“Nicked me a little bit,” Smart said, “and the refs made the right call.”
The Cowboys closed the game on a 9-3 run. And somehow, they had a chance to win in the final seconds. But KU freshman guard Frank Mason was able to strip the ball from Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash as he tried to attempt a hurried three-pointer at the buzzer.
“I just tried to make the play,” Mason said, “And I wasn’t thinking about fouling, so I didn’t foul.”
…While Embiid’s transformation from raw big man to lottery talent continues to take shape, he also picked up a technical for the third straight game. This time, Embiid shoved an opponent after the whistle. When a reporter asked if he needed to be smarter, Embiid’s answer was pretty simple:
“Umm, Yep,” he said, before doubling over in laughter and landing in Tharpe’s lap.
So here we are, the story line same as it ever was.
Kansas, 12-4, has opened the Big 12 with four straight victories, taking sole possession of first place in the league.
Naadir Tharpe exited Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon in a strut after KU's 80-78 win over eighth-ranked Oklahoma State. He took one big step to his right and cupped his hand over his right ear. He took another big step to the left and did the same.
It was one of those moves you see in WWE wrestling.
Poetic after what took place since Marcus Smart finished off the Jayhawks a year ago with a backflip on their home court.
"I still remember those backflips," Tharpe told me before the season at Big 12 media days. "Backflip on our floor. You don't forget that."
The Jayhawks' roster has turned over, but since Smart returned, no one would let them forget about what the Oklahoma State star was able to do last year and what he might be able to do this year: End KU's streak of Big 12 titles at nine.
The Cowboys were reminded of those titles as they took the floor on Saturday with the screens that line Naismith Court flashing the nine rings.
Both teams got worked up enough that by the final buzzer they had combined for seven technicals.
…KU's bench scored 28 points, and the often-forgotten man in KU's starting five, Tharpe, buried the Cowboys with big shot after big shot on his way to 21 points.
"Naadir played great," Self said. "Every time they got real close, he had an answer."
Bleacher Report CJ Moore
“That’s Naadir feeling good about Naadir. That’s all,” Tharpe’s mom, Lori, told the Journal-World after watching her son interact with the spectators after No. 15-ranked KU avenged last year’s home loss to the No. 9-ranked Cowboys and took a two-game lead over Pokes in the league standings.
Lori Tharpe — who sat in the lower level, southwest bleachers with Naadir’s brothers Abdullah and Tishaun, Naadir’s uncle, Tony, plus some cousins and family friends — was beaming with pride after watching Naadir play so well during her first game in the fieldhouse stands.
“You know how sometimes you come into a situation you are really not prepared for? You get there and it’s better than you expected? This is better than expected,” Lori said, smiling.
“Not because it was so loud,” she added of fans’ wild response to her son’s hitting a three to stretch a 54-50 lead to 57-50; another three to up a 59-56 lead to 62-56 and a two at the end of the shot clock to stretch a 77-73 lead to 79-73 with 0:34 left. Those shots were pivotal in preventing (15-3, 3-2) Oklahoma State from overcoming a whopping 19-point first-half deficit and pulling out a shocking win.
“We’ve been to about two or three restaurants (since arriving from Worcester, Mass., on Friday). We stopped into a couple stores. Kansas ... these people are serious. They are committed. That’s what it’s all about,” Lori added.
…“The last two weeks, he’ll call me an hour or two before the game. I say, ‘Naadir are you calling because you need me to give you some advice?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, mom.’’’
“I tell him, ‘You guys, for the whole time you are out there, you have to play tough, because the other team is hungry like you. Guess what? You have to be a little bit more hungry every time. It’s a job. Go out there and do your job,’’’ Lori Tharpe related.
Kansas’ Joel Embiid wowed them again, and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart got more from a terrible shooting game than any college player could. Both nearly posted triple doubles.
The Cowboys’ Markel Brown and Phil Forte brought the best of their dead-eye selves, and the Jayhawks’ Jamari Traylor squeezed more production from his minutes than any other big game of his career.
But the biggest difference-maker in Kansas’ 80-78 victory/escape over Oklahoma State on Saturday was none of them.
KU point guard Naadir Tharpe was good early and dependable late. His production flowed steady, and his confidence never wavered.
There were no career bests for Tharpe, and his occasional bad-pass habit continued. But without Tharpe, Oklahoma State, which made two major second-half charges to turn the final minutes into a nail-biter, would have prevailed for the second time at Allen Fieldhouse in two years.
…But the Kansas effort had shrunk to one player, and Tharpe was player enough to get the Jayhawks through on an especially happy day with his mother, Lori, in the building to watch her son play in a college game for the first time.
“Naadir played great. He should have taken more shots,” Kansas coach Bill Self said for perhaps the first time in Tharpe’s three years in Lawrence.
But that’s right. On a few occasions, Tharpe passed up open looks, and at times the offense didn’t move crisply enough. Some of that was Oklahoma State’s small and quick defense that excelled at filling passing lanes, but Tharpe also continues his adjustment as a first-year starting point guard.
…Traylor spoke of the encouragement he receives from Tharpe during practice, so when Tharpe drove and kicked it to Traylor at the free-throw line, the power forward dropped it in.
“He gives me confidence,” Traylor said.
This marks two straight games over 20 points for Tharpe, after Monday’s 23-point performance at Iowa State. That’s a career-first. The assists are accumulating — he’s up to 5.3 per game —and confidence is soaring.
LJW Keegan Ratings: Tharpe tops ratings again
Just before he reached the tunnel, Tharpe twirled a 180-degree leap in midair, hitting some students’ hands reached over a scoreboard.
After all the talk, all the emotions, all the pregame words, KU had taken Round 1.
“It was accomplishment, definitely, more than relief,” Tharpe said. “They’ve been talking about Oklahoma State and Kansas for a while, since the beginning of the year. That’s all we’ve been hearing; even before conference play started, that’s all we’ve been hearing is about ‘Oklahoma State, Oklahoma State.’
“It’s more of an accomplishment that we went out there and played our game.”
…Selden tweeted the word “Personal” before the game, and fellow freshman Brannen Greene said there was extra juice in KU’s locker room.
“Just because the chit-chatter that’s been going on outside of the basketball game by them. Just the hype around it,” Greene said. “Automatically, it’s just a bigger game.”
…Building that big advantage led to a natural question for Self in the postgame news conference: Should KU celebrate the win — as Tharpe did — or be frustrated by the near meltdown?
“I don’t see it as a step backwards,” Self said. “We shouldn’t apologize for beating a top-10 team.”
The tensions began to escalate in the first half when Ford called a timeout and Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown kept playing. Brown ran into KU’s Jamari Traylor, causing a near fracas near midcourt.
“The guy just ran into me,” Traylor said. “I guess he was a little heated. We were both heated. I don’t really know, it happened so fast.”
Traylor was also assessed a technical foul, even if he was little confused on why he ended up getting one.
(I don’t know) how I got a tech,” Traylor tweeted after the game. “but it's cool.”
Kansas delivered the game's first big blow midway through the first half, ripping off a 13-0 run fueled by Tariq Black's monstrous dunk. By the time Brown's turnover led to a run-out basket by Black and a 29-15 lead with just under 8 minutes left in the half, a sellout crowd that included Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was roaring its approval.
In fact, the noise was so deafening that Brown didn't hear Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford call a timeout. He instead raced up court and found himself in the midst of the Kansas huddle, and wound up triggering a benches-clearing fracas that the officials had to separate.
Brown and the Jayhawks' Jamari Traylor were each hit with technical fouls.
Things didn't cool off, either. Later in the half, Smart was hammered by Wayne Selden on his way to the rim. Selden was promptly shoved by the Cowboys' Stevie Clark, drawing another technical.
Kansas led 47-30 at halftime.
The Cowboys tried to mount a comeback on the second half. Forte got hot from behind the arc, and Brown hit four 3-pointers in the span of a few minutes, the last of them closing Oklahoma State within 59-56 with 11:02 remaining.
Kansas stoically answered the challenge.
Mason's 3-pointer triggered seven straight points by the Jayhawks, and when Smart finally hit his first field goal with 5:53 left in the game, Embiid answered with a thunderous jam off an alley-oop pass that left the entire goal setup trembling.
As the Jayhawks slowly rebuilt their lead, Oklahoma State began to lose its poise. Brown was whistled for a foul on Embiid, and voiced his frustration within earshot of official John Higgins, earning his second technical of the game. It also resulted in him fouling out.
Give Smart credit, though. He had Allen Fieldhouse amped. Fans booed his every touch, recalled air balls with regularity, rejoiced in shot clock violations and delighted in blocks.
Smart struggled. Or at least he seemed to until you watched him, and the Pokes almost pull off an improbable rally.
It was prickly. The two sides combined for six technicals and a flagrant foul. Some television mini-series can be viewed in less time than the officials spent at the monitor reviewing plays and contact.
“It was kind of fun, because Marcus Smart didn’t say one thing that was negative,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Andrew Wiggins never said anything that was negative. Marcus Smart doing a backflip, that’s our fault, that wasn’t his fault.
“The media was able to play on that, and because it did, both teams were turned up today, which is good. That’s positive. We need that. Everybody does.”
Never did any exchange get too testy, too terse, too terrible.
“It was emotions,” OSU coach Travis Ford said. “I didn’t think any of it was dirty.”
A roaring sellout crowd. Chippy fouls and swinging elbows. A dramatic finish on the final possession.
The first meeting between Big 12 co-favorites Kansas and Oklahoma State was worthy of the months of pregame hype that preceded it in every way except one: The most highly touted player on the floor didn't live up to expectations.
Kansas strengthened its grip on first place in the Big 12 with a 80-78 victory even though freshman Andrew Wiggins delivered his quietest performance of the season. Wiggins scored only three points on 1 of 5 shooting, pulled down just two rebounds and sat on the bench for long stretches of the second half as the Jayhawks were trying to thwart a furious Oklahoma State comeback.
That Kansas could outlast its most daunting Big 12 challenger with Wiggins scoring 13 points below his season scoring average has to be an intimidating sight for the rest of the leagues. The Jayhawks showed off their depth Saturday in improving to 4-0 in league play, two or more games ahead in the loss column of every other Big 12 team besides second-place Kansas State.
…Since an up-and-down four-loss non-league season that culminated in a rare home loss to San Diego State, Kansas has won at Oklahoma and Iowa State, clobbered second-place Kansas State in Lawrence and survived Oklahoma State's rally despite Wiggins' off day. That's a big early statement that suggests the Jayhawks have a much better chance of celebrating their 10th straight Big 12 title in March than any of their fellow contenders do of dethroning them.
On the Kansas bench, not so far removed from playing but far enough that he rarely plays, there is a young man named Landen Lucas. He is 6-10, 240 pounds. When the Jayhawks practice, he hits jump hooks with either hand. And KU has four big guys better than him.
One of them is freshman center Joel Embiid, who is going to be the talk of college basketball (and those obsessed with the NBA draft) for the next several months. Toward the end of a half in which his greatest contribution was a series of blocks the grew progressively louder and more emphatic, he threw down a lob dunk over All-American guard Marcus Smart that will be repeatedly shown as though it were the work of Jadaveon Clowney.
The others are Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor and Memphis transfer Tarik Black. Put any one of them on Oklahoma State’s squad, and you’d have yourself a powerful Final Four contender. But Kansas has them all, and that was the biggest difference Saturday afternoon between the Jayhawks and Cowboys.
…It was the combined work of Black and Traylor off the bench that truly broke open the first half, the two chiseled power players combining for 13 of KU’s points in an 18-8 surge midway through the opening 20 minutes.
"When we come in, and Perry and Joel go out, we don't lose a step," Traylor said of he and Black.
The newest rivalry in the Big 12 is becoming so intense that no one—and I mean no one—can resist a little trash-talking.
Not even a guy on crutches.
Balancing on one foot after his team’s 80-78 loss to Kansas, injured Oklahoma State forward Michael Cobbins lifted his wooden props into the air, pointed them toward a sea of Jayhawks fans in the Allen Fieldhouse stands and began to shout.
“I can’t wait ‘til y’all come to Stillwater,” said Cobbins, who is sidelined with a torn Achilles. “I can’t wait ‘til y’all come to Stillwater.”
…“We’re leaving here with our heads held high,” guard Markel Brown said. “We showed a lot of toughness and heart. It’s a shame only one team could win, because those were two great teams out there battling.”
Brown is right.
No. 15 Kansas and No. 9 Oklahoma State aren’t just good teams.
They’re great teams.
And now, more than ever, that’s exactly what the conference needs.
…Six of the Big 12’s 10 coaches have led teams to the Final Four.
“I know I’m biased,” Ford said, “but schools from other conferences don’t have to go through the gauntlet that we go through where we play everyone twice. Hopefully we can all make adjustments and prove ourselves in the Big Dance.”
But before the NCAA tournament occurs, there’s another game the Cowboys will have highlighted on their schedule: the March 1 rematch with Kansas.
“I guess you could say we’ve got a rivalry with Kansas now,” Brown said. “We definitely can’t wait until that time comes. One of the reasons Marcus and I returned to this team was to win a Big 12 championship. We feel like we’ll be right there in the mix. If they could drop a game before they come and play us again, that’s be great.”
“Of course, we need to win all our games until then, too,” he said. “And that won’t be easy.”
Bleacher Report Jason King
OSU was out of sorts, too, with the Jayhawks imposing their size advantage and their will and the Cowboys losing starters Brian Williams and Nash for much of the half to foul trouble. Without them, OSU had to scrap plans to pressure KU's sometimes erratic guards, dropping into an uncharacteristic zone in an effort to try and survive.
“It affected us a lot, because we couldn't get out and pressure like we wanted to,” Smart said. “We were so cautious of whether we were going to get a foul. We had to adjust to how the game was being called. And it hurt us.
“It was a big deal to us.”
The Cowboys showed how big immediately in the second half, turning up the pressure and turning over the Jayhawks — four times early in the half during a spurt that trimmed the lead to eight, 52-44 — and 14 times overall in the final 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, Forte and Markel Brown heated up, firing in eight 3-pointers and combining for 27 of their 38 points after intermission.
“Going into halftime, we knew it was going to take a big effort to come back, especially playing on the road,” said Forte, who finished with a game-high 23 points and 7 treys. “We just tried to make it four-minute intervals and slowly chip away at the lead. We did that. “We played the way we should have come out and played, with a lot of intensity and effort and playing as a team. I think that's what got us back.”
When Forte drilled his final 3 from the corner with :05.7 left, OSU was somehow within one, 79-78.
And after Mason missed one of two foul shots at the other end, the Cowboys rushed upcourt, yet couldn't get off a shot, with Mason saving the day.
“LB tried to make the play,” Forte said of Nash. “I think it was the right play. Kansas just made a good play.
“Give them all the credit, they made a game-winning play.”
KU made the winning plays. It did what it does best. It’s no coincidence this program has won the conference title nine years running.
“Embiid was laying in, dunking, (Tarik) Black was dunking, (Naadir) Tharpe shooting three’s,” Ford said. “You let any team like that play to their strengths and they are that talented, you’re in trouble. That’s what happened.”
Add that up and you get a two-point loss. No officials to blame, no “Beware of the Phog” mystery and no injury report to point at.
The better team won. Sometimes the simplest answer says it all.
Wiggins was thought to be the savior for the Jayhawks because he gave them a go-to guy, an offensive weapon that would be able to get them 20 points on a nightly basis and give them an option at the end of a clock. He was going to be the guy that Bill Self would build an offense around, the load-bearing shoulders that would carry a young and unproven Kansas team to yet another Big 12 title.
The Jayhawks are now 4-0 in the Big 12, having beaten their four biggest challengers in Big 12 play already — at Oklahoma, Kansas State, at Iowa State and Oklahoma State. Kansas State is the only team that currently sits within one game of the Jayhawks in the Big 12 standings. This is arguably the most talented team in the country, and they are peaking at the right time.
And they are doing it despite the fact that their Sports Illustrated cover boy has yet to be anything more than a piece to the puzzle.
That’s scary for two reasons.
First of all, the rest of the Jayhawks have found their groove. Embiid, who finished with 13 points, 11 boards and eight blocks, has turned into arguably the most dominant post presence in college basketball. Wayne Selden caught fire last week, sparking Kansas against Oklahoma and Kansas State. Naadir Tharpe is (finally) fully embracing the point guard role Kansas has been waiting for him to fill for two years. He had 21 points and six assists on 7-for-8 shooting on Saturday, which included three huge jump shots in the second half, the last of which gave Kansas a 79-73 lead with 35 seconds left.
But what happens if Wiggins is the next guy to come full circle? What happens if it finally comes together for him? Kansas already has full control of the toughest conference in the country. They already look like a national title contender. And they can still get so much better.
Through four Big 12 games, the Jayhawks have the best offensive efficiency in the conference, and it's not close. But what's separating KU most from playing at a consistency high level?
Yep, turnovers. More proof of that is in the chart below.
…The good news? If KU can conquer its turnover demons, it has room for improvement on its already ridiculous offensive numbers.
The bad news? The turnover problem hasn't gotten better so far this season, and time is ticking if the Jayhawks are going to improve.
…Naadir Tharpe saved KU against Oklahoma State. Even with six turnovers, the junior still managed an incredibly efficient line, notching 1.32 points per possession while ending 22 percent of KU's plays when he was in. No one's talking about it, but a huge reason for Tharpe's success in Big 12 play has been his accuracy from 2-point range. In KU's last four games, Tharpe has made 12 of 15 2-point shots (80 percent). Keep in mind that's from a guy that was a 36-percent 2-point shooter a year ago. The 5-foot-11 guard earned each of those 2s on Saturday, as Hoop-Math.com had him shooting four 2-point jumpshots.
…Something that might get lost in the shuffle is just how well KU shot the ball against OSU. The Jayhawks' 62.5 percent effective field-goal percentage wasn't just the top mark against the Cowboys all year ... it was the best one by a wide margin; before Saturday, the highest eFG% OSU was 51.7% in a loss to Memphis.
TCJ Newell Post
If you are any team with designs on winning the national championship, the scariest part of Kansas' emotionally charged victory against Oklahoma State on Saturday was that Andrew Wiggins was an absolute non-factor.
The Canadian-born Sports Illustrated cover boy, who was hyped as the best prep prospect since LeBron James, made one of five shots from the floor, scored three points and played 23 minutes. More than the unflattering statistics, it was easy to forget Wiggins was even on the floor at times in the second half.
This is why Kansas is poised to be as difficult to beat as anyone once the NCAA tournament begins in March. The Jayhawks' current ranking of No. 18 is a misnomer.
…"Wiggs had the worst game he's had all year," Kansas coach Bill Self said after the hotly contested, physical 80-78 victory at Allen Fieldhouse. "Perry (Ellis) had as bad a game he's had all year. Wayne (Selden) had as bad a game he's had in a long time. The bench was good. There were a lot of positives that were good.
And those other players will step up and make plays moving forward."
…Their growth has been rapid. And now the Jayhawks are charging toward a 10th consecutive Big 12 regular season title and a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Wiggins, who has been a somewhat reluctant star since his days at Huntington Prep, W.Va., had showed signs of late of being more assertive and aggressive on the court. But he was a non-issue in his much anticipated showdown with Smart, who played well despite shooting poorly.
If Wiggins rounds into form by March, Kansas will be the team no one wants to play. And as the Jayhawks demonstrated Saturday, even if Wiggins falls short of expectations, Kansas may still have enough talent to overcome it.
After the game, Embiid made his way to the locker room. But before he left the arena floor he jumped up to high-five fans who were reaching down over the scoreboard by the entryway. It seemed as if Embiid reached 12 feet in the air.
Much like Embiid, Kansas has no ceiling.
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Big 12 / College News
Offense has carried Oklahoma so far.
Saturday, though, Cameron Clark came up with the game's biggest play on defense — tipping away a pass in the final seconds to give the No. 25 Sooners a 66-64 upset win over No. 12 Baylor at the Ferrell Center.
“We got a deflection and that kind of used up some time,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “Seconds are precious at that point and the deflection used up enough time for the horn to go off before they got control of it.”
The win was Oklahoma's first road victory over a team ranked No. 12 or higher in more than 20 years. The Sooners beat No. 6 Kansas on Feb. 17, 1993.
The Bears, starting with 9.1 seconds left, were trying to spring 7-footer Isaiah Austin free for either a game-tying two or a game-winning 3-pointer but Austin never touched the ball.
Oklahoma's Isaiah Cousins had Kenny Cherry locked down and swung it to Royce O'Neale. O'Neale tried to force the ball to Austin, and Clark tipped the ball into the air. O'Neale got the ball back but couldn't get a shot off until after the buzzer.
It was an agonizing last minute for both sides after Clark's free throw put the Sooners up six with a minute left.
The final minute included a pair of Austin 3-pointers (his first of the season), five timeouts, a long review of an Oklahoma turnover and lasted approximately 23 minutes.
But the Sooners got out with the win despite missing three free throws in the final 18 seconds.
Week by week, win by win, Texas keeps gaining confidence.
And the latest, an impressive victory over No. 8 Iowa State, has the Longhorns looking like a very dangerous team in the Big 12.
Jonathan Holmes scored 23 points and Cam Ridley had 16 points and 11 rebounds as Texas overpowered the struggling Cyclones 86-76 on Saturday.
It took Texas (14-4, 3-2) nearly a month to get its first Big 12 win last season, the program's first losing season in 15 years. A 0-2 start in league play had the look of a similar dismal finish, but the Longhorns have now won three in a row.
"We feel we're as good as anybody when we put our best on the floor," Texas guard Javan Felix said.
The schedule will keep testing that with Kansas State, Baylor and Kansas in the next three games. But it's clear Texas can make trouble for any team on the right day.
"I told our guys, 'We'll see how we handle it,'" Texas coach Rick Barnes said.
Eight of the 10 starters in UNLV-SDSU are transfers. One JUCO and seven from four-year schools. #marco#polo
Big XII composite schedule (includes results, highlights, stats)
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule
1/17/14, 9:08 PM
Kelly Oubre sweet stroke and explosiveness around the rim was a treat to watch tonight for Findlay Prep. A true High Major Wing and KU bound
F Kelly Oubre Jr. (@K_Ctmd22): 14 PTS, 9 REB for Findlay Prep in a win over Wayne. #ROCKCHALK @FlyinToTheHoop #EYBL d1circuit.com/game/show/6847
ESPNU Monday Jan 20 11:30 AM (Eastern): Kelly Oubre vs Theo Pinson
ESPNU Monday Jan 20 3:30 PM (Eastern): Cliff Alexander vs Montverde
Link to above video
JaQuan Lyle #5
Full roster here
When a slew of top-50 prospects were flying off the board in the fall,JaQuan Lyle was mostly staying quiet. After all, Lyle made enough news over the summer, committing to Louisville in late June only to reopen his recruitment in early September.
The Indiana native was just taking his time with the process, although he seems ready to dive back in.
“Here in the next week and a half to two weeks, I'll probably narrow [my list] and take my other officials too,” Lyle said after Huntington Prep (W.Va.) beat Prime Prep (Texas) at the Hoop Hall Classic on Saturday night.
…Lyle was expected to visit Kansas last weekend, but the birth of his nephew forced him to cancel the trip. That doesn't mean the Jayhawks are off the list by any stretch; he's still very much interested in Bill Self's program.
Moreover, Kansas has two elite players entering the school next season: Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander, a player who Lyle has mentioned as someone he would like to play alongside at the next level.
“If he catches the ball, he dunks it,” Lyle said of Alexander, a top-five prospect. “As a point guard, that's what you want to see. It's an easy assist. It just makes you look better. Why not want to look good? Cliff makes me look better, and I make him look better.”
Lyle is ranked No. 22 nationally in the 247Sports Composite, and is the third-best player still available from the class of 2014. He's a difficult matchup for most opposing guards, given his size and strength. He's added weight, but he uses his body well to overpower players in the lane. Lyle can get into the lane effectively, and he also shows good vision when finding teammates.
After helping his team to a 52-48 victory over Prime Prep of Dallas Saturday at the Hoophall Classic, Huntington Prep point guard JaQuan Lyle said he’s still not ready to narrow down his list of potential destinations to play college ball next season.
Lyle, the 22nd-ranked player in the class of 2014 according to Rivals.com, is one of just three players in the site's top 75 athletes yet to commit to a collegiate program.
Saturday night at Blake Arena, the 6' 4" point guard showed both the patience to get his teammates involved in the offense, as well as the size and strength to finish in traffic.
Lyle scored 11 points in the game, including two three-pointers and a soft runner in the lane late in the game that gave his team a 47-44 lead with two minutes to play, a lead the Irish would hold onto to preserve the win.
The Evansville, Ind. native said his list of schools remains mostly unchanged, and still includes Connecticut, Memphis, Kansas, Providence College, West Virginia, Oregon and Florida State.
However, Lyles said recently Oklahoma State has made a strong push to become involved as well.
…Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre, both top-12 players according to Rivals, have already committed to the Jayhawks. Lyle said he could see himself fitting in nicely on the court with Alexander, a strong power forward with excellent rebounding and finishing skills.
…Both Alexander and Oubre will be in action Monday at the Hoophall Classic. Alexander's Curie (Ill.) High School team will take on Montverde Academy (Fla.), while Oubre's Findley Prep (Nev.) squad faces off against North Carolina's Wesleyan Christian School.
Mudiay is currently the only member of SMU’s incoming freshmen class. But will that remain the same when he begins school next fall?
Myles Turner, a 6-foot-10 center from Trinity High (Texas) is the top player available in the Class of 2014. He holds offers from Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas. However, he decided to reconsider SMU once Mudiay made his commitment.
“We so busy with the season I can’t stay in contact with him,” Mudiay said. “Every time I get a chance to remind him, I say ‘Pony Up’ or something like that.”
Mudiay ended with 20 points, three boards and two assists, earning team MVP honors for Saturday night’s showdown with Huntington Prep.
Hoophall Classic schedule (Jan 16-20)
Daily Hoophall Classic coverage and live blog
The next few matchups will take place on Monday afternoon and can be seen on ESPNU. The first of which involves a talented and athletic Wesleyan Christian bunch, and a boatload of talent and NBA potential from the program hailing from Sin City in Findlay Prep. However, the in-game matchup that I most want to see is between a future Tarheel and Jayhawk. Though similar in height and position, Kelly Oubre and Theo Pinson are far apart when skillset is involved.
Wesleyan Christian wing, Theo Pinson, is a type of guy that loves to get to the bucket. With giant length and added bounce around the rim, the Carolina native is good for one or two highlight reel dunks in any given game. His jumper remains a work in progress and he has been placed at the point guard spot on the floor for his WCA squad, so it will be interesting to see how well Oubre maneuvers around in containing Pinson out top.
With Oubre, the Findlay transfer has a ton of skill within his scoring arsenal and the lefty has a developed pull-up game and does major damage on the offensive glass. He can oftentimes lose balance on his perimeter jumper, but his stroke is pristine and it will be interesting to see how Pinson deals with the stronger lefty on the wing. I give the edge here to Oubre’s bunch in pulling out the W, but it is anyone’s guess as to who takes the upper hand in this particular matchup.
…The final matchup that immediately stands out is between Curie High School (IL) and Montverde Academy (FL). Curie is led by rim arsonist Cliff Alexander, while the Florida bunch is led by who could be the top player in 2015 in Ben Simmons.
Alexander brings the body and vengeance from 15-feet and in that most NBA teams would like to see out of their starting big men. Simmons displays the fortitude and versatility at the four spot as a highly skilled yet athletic forward. Hailing from Australia, does Simmons have the toughness and body to stick with Alexander when placed on him within the half court?
It should be a fun affair and interesting to see how a less talented group in Curie hangs with the number one team in America. Montverde throws at you high-major prospect after high-major prospect, while the Windy City program is heavily reliant on Alexander. However, don’t overlook the contributions of the future Jayhawk as the violent finisher can carry his squad for prolonged spurts and carry his team until the very end. I give the final nudge here to Montverde, but not before Cliff Alexander goes for 30 and 15.
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