VOTE for Devonte! ESPN Cap One Performance
"Buddy Hield's not going to miss this free throw because he's a 90 percent free-throw shooter," ESPN's Jay Bilas said with Hield at the line, and it was a reasonable thing to say.
But then Hield did indeed miss.
And now OU has dropped two of its past three games.
"I just tried to contest every shot," said Kansas guard Devonte' Graham, who spent most of the game guarding and hounding Hield. "Just tried to make things tough on him."
This victory over Oklahoma represents the Jayhawks' fifth top-25 RPI win.
Nobody has more.
Kansas has beaten Oklahoma twice -- and West Virginia, Kentucky and Texas once. When you combine that with victories over Baylor, Oregon State, Texas Tech and San Diego State, what you realize is that Kansas has nine top-50 RPI wins, which makes the Jayhawks the only team in college basketball with nine top-50 wins and just one sub-25 loss.
KUAD Postgame Box Score, Notes, Quotes, Photos, Recap
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Buddy Hield launched a long shot, leaning into his defender, looking for a miracle.
But on the game's final shot, there would be no heroics this time for Hield and Oklahoma against Kansas. No triple overtime. No instant classic.
But worst for the Sooners, there would be no victory.
On a day when the college basketball world was watching and Lloyd Noble Center was buzzing, the Sooners had an opportunity to not only stake a claim to the Big 12 title but also make a statement about its place in the hoops hierarchy. Win and avenge that triple-overtime loss at Kansas, and OU would surely be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and would likely have an inside track to the overall No. 1 seed.
But now after losing two of three games — and being a Buddy Ball away from losing all three — you have to wonder if all's well in Soonerville.
…Consider OU's Big 12 title hopes to be on life support.
For all the time and effort expended on prospect evaluation, there are countless stories of accidental recruits who become stars.
Kansas now has two of those.
Graham is part of the greatest second-chance backcourt in college basketball. His running mate is Frank Mason III, who originally signed with Towson. But Mason was an academic non-qualifier out of high school and also wound up going the prep-school route, reopening his recruitment and winding up in Lawrence.
Bill Self has signed 14 McDonald’s All-Americans at Kansas. But if the Jayhawks’ remarkable streak of 11 straight Big 12 titles is going to continue this year, these under-recruited guards are going to be a huge reason why.
“Our guys have been on the outside looking in as far as the premier guard tandems nationally,” Self said. “But I think this will change that.”
Bill Self pulled Devonte' Graham aside Wednesday and informed him that, come Kansas' game against Oklahoma, he would be guarding Buddy Hield.
"Smile and cut your heart out. That’s the kind of kid he is," Self said.
Consider this, then, an evisceration at least delivered pleasantly.
People who came to the Lloyd Noble Center for Kansas vs. Oklahoma Part II hoping to see a high-octane show from a star whose flair and showmanship is almost as good as his game got what they paid for.
They just didn’t get what they expected.
Graham not only chased Hield into a quiet (by his standards) shooting night, but he also out-Buddy-bucketed Buddy Buckets. Graham scored Kansas’ first field goal and its last, weaving together a masterful performance in between that ended with a game-high 27 points and a 76-72 Kansas win.
…He’s a big personality in a little guard, the yapping, smiling yin to Mason’s stoic yang.
But Graham is also wildly under the radar and isn’t the type to really like being there. He didn’t exactly say he wanted to stop the Buddy love, but he wanted to stop the Buddy love.
Bill Self playfully fired a left jab at Devonté Graham’s upper chest before Kansas University’s sophomore guard — the man who dealt a knockout blow to Oklahoma on Saturday in Lloyd Noble Center — began his post-game interview with ESPN’s Shannon Spake.
“He said, ‘Good game, way to play,’’’ Graham, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder from Raleigh, N.C., said of praise showered upon him by KU coach Self after Graham’s career-high 27-point effort and lockdown performance on Buddy Hield led to a 76-72 victory over the Sooners.
Self tossed more compliments Graham’s way during a post-game news conference held after the Jayhawks improved to 21-4 overall and 9-3 in the Big 12 (good for first-place tie with West Virginia); OU dropped to 20-4, 8-4.
“What Devonté did to control the game the second half was a joke,” Self said of Graham, who scored 17 points the final 20 minutes, including three threes. “Perry (Ellis, 10 points total) didn’t score the second half (so) he (Graham) just puts us on his shoulders. He was so confident. I think he gives other guys confidence.
“I think he grew up a little bit today,” Self added of Graham, who hit eight of 13 shots, including six of nine from three, plus five of six from the line.
…“I think our guys have been on the outside looking in as far as being thought of having a premier tandem nationally,” Self said. “I think this will probably do some things to garner them a little more attention. There’s a lot of players out there really good but do not have the ‘it factor.’ He has that factor walking around campus every day. They talk about Buddy’s personality, energy. Hey, Devonté doesn’t have any bad days, either. I think that rubs off on everybody,” Self added.
The buzzer sounded and Graham couldn’t contain his excitement. He bounced with teammates, got pulled into the stands with blue-clad Kansas fans who made the trip, and was blasted with cheers upon entering the locker room.
…Graham rightfully pointed out several other critical moments. Lucas took a charge on Hield with about 1 minute remaining. Lucas and Perry Ellis kept alive the possession that produced Graham’s go-ahead three-pointer with offensive rebounds. Wayne Selden Jr. didn’t shoot well but his lone three-pointer was a big one that capped a 7-0 run and restored a Kansas lead when it appeared the Sooners had planted a flag in the game.
But Graham’s effort was worth every salute that came his way. To have that much energy left to knock down three-pointers after chasing Hield all over the floor …
“I don’t know if our team is well conditioned, but I know he is unbelievably well conditioned,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “His defense was excellent. Last 5 minutes of the game he’s doing everything that requires energy.”
…Saturday’s triumph also gave Kansas a first signature road victory. The Jayhawks had been swatted down at West Virginia and Iowa State, and if they wanted to remain alive for a 12th consecutive Big 12 title they would need to be a contender on the road.
Plenty of work remains, but the Jayhawks find themselves in a familiar position, in first place in the final month of the season.
“It tells you we’re capable of being tough,” Self said. “I think we can play through some stuff.”
With KU trailing by six and 8:39 remaining, the Jayhawks (21-4, 9-3 Big 12) rolled out the lineup of guards Devonte’ Graham, Frank Mason, Wayne Selden and Brannen Greene alongside forward Perry Ellis. It would last all of two minutes but include a 9-1 run that would give the team a brief lead (59-57).
“It’s tough on teams because we’ve got four shooters out there,” said Graham, who scored a game-high 27 points. “You’ve got to play us as shooters and that gives us open lanes to drive in.”
All told, the package produced nine points, two assists, two steals, and had Mason not picked up his fourth foul at the 6:40 mark, it would have had a longer shelf life, Self said.
Selden, who capped the rally with his only 3-pointer of the game, said he would like to see more of the four-guard look if the situation calls for it.
“It was essential tonight,” Selden said. “I felt like we should’ve used it, and we did. We trust what coach does and it was big for us.”
Selden would go on to call Greene, who finished with nine points and four rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench, “the best shooter in the country.” Greene’s replacing of forward Landen Lucas signaled the start of the four-guard look.
Self was pleased with that lineup’s production, and Mason’s foul woes gave him no choice but to abandon the formation. Still, the KU coach said that had his big man Lucas not been in the game to take a charge from Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield with 1:10 remaining, the outcome of the game could have been different.
“Landen made a couple of plays late,” Self said, “that made me glad he was in the game.”
Chicago Bulls basketball coach Fred Hoiberg spent some time in Kansas University coach Bill Self’s office on Friday in Lawrence.
“We talked about everything. I was picking his brain,” KU coach Self said after the Jayhawks used Hoiberg’s four-guard Iowa State lineup for several minutes in the Jayhawks’ 76-72 win over Oklahoma, in Noble Center.
Hoiberg, former coach at ISU, was in town with wife, Carol, to visit with Hoiberg’s daughter, Paige, a freshman who works in KU’s basketball office. Hoiberg has some free time over NBA All-Star weekend.
“He always plays four around one,” Self said of Hoiberg. “He said, ‘Man, that could be good for you guys.’ I said, ‘We may end up doing it tomorrow.’ We didn’t do it much. I thought it was good for us the little bit we did it,” Self added.
The Sooners had leading national player of the year candidate Buddy Hield and the home-court advantage going for them in the game billed as "The Rematch," a reference to last month's triple-overtime thriller in Allen Fieldhouse.
The Sooners had the best three-point shooting percentage in the nation, too many marksmen to pay too much attention to Hield.
So what happens? Kansas sophomore Devonté Graham, with the timing of a Powerball winner, shows a glimpse of what his senior season might look like on a consistent basis by having the game of his life at both ends of the floor.
Buddy Hield simply doesn’t miss jump shots or free throws.
At least not normally.
But Kansas is not a normal Big 12 opponent. Not this time of year. Not when the Big 12 race is heating up.
So, though Oklahoma is the best three-point shooting team in the nation, the third-ranked Sooners started their game against No. 6 Kansas on Saturday afternoon 0-for-9 from beyond the arc. And though Hield is the frontrunner to win the national player of the year, he wasn’t even the best guard on the court during Saturday’s marquee matchup. That distinction went to Kansas’ Devonte Graham, who stifled Hield for the most part defensively while scoring 27 points to lead all scorers.
The Jayhawks won 76-72 to sweep the Sooners in the regular season. But more important, it was a reminder, once again, why Kansas is poised to win its 12th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.
…This is also the kind of season that has to be among Self's best coaching jobs. He's pieced together various lineups depending on what might work best for a specific opponent — for example, he went, successfully, to a four-guard lineup during part of Saturday's game after talking out its merits with former Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg this week — and also figured out how to maximize players who have shown mere flashes of potential the last few years, such as Wayne Selden Jr. He's pushed his players to their limits (and various overtime periods) and to 21 wins. It's impressive to say the least — and frustrating if you're another Big 12 coach.
The Sooners led by five with eight minutes to go before Kansas scored seven consecutive points in less than a minute, taking advantage of two quick Oklahoma turnovers, to grab the lead back.
"Our coaches tell us we have to enjoy every moment," Graham said. "When you're on this stage, you just try to have fun. I was just out there having fun."
Kansas has won five in a row while Oklahoma had its 19-game home winning streak snapped.
In the seconds after a postgame interview with ESPN, Devonte’ Graham jogged toward the exit tunnel when he heard the Kansas fan scream from the rafters at Lloyd Noble Center.
“Good job, Devonte’!”
The sophomore smiled and pointed up high. The celebration was just about to begin.
A few moments later, following No. 6 Kansas’ 76-72 victory over third-ranked Oklahoma, Graham was met by his teammates just inside the locker room. They all had circled up, waiting for the game’s most valuable player to arrive.
When he did, they erupted. Graham made his way to the middle of the pile, his teammates jumping up and down around him.
“It’s just what he deserves,” KU forward Jamari Traylor said, “from a game like that.”
On Saturday, Kansas recorded a 76-72 win at Oklahoma. In that victory, the Jayhawks solidified a perennial and perpetual reality in the Big 12 that began the same year the first chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, “Batman Begins” was released (2005). And they did it with Frank Mason, whom Buddy Hield called his most challenging opposing defender, sidelined late by foul trouble. They did it with Buddy Hield being Buddy Hield (24 points, 5-for-11 from the 3-point line). They did it with Wayne Selden going 2-for-9 from the field. And they did it with Devonte’ Graham (27 points, 8-for-13) leading the way.
Yes, trips to Baylor and Texas remain on KU’s slate. And the Jayhawks will meet Iowa State in Lawrence in the regular-season finale. But a second win over Oklahoma, along with a split against West Virginia, did not change the constant narrative in the Big 12. The win confirmed it.
Maybe more chaos will come and another squad not named West Virginia will make the race more interesting. But it’s clear now, as it usually is in early February, that Kansas still runs the Big 12 and it remains the team to beat in the league.
Lloyd Noble Center seldom has been this packed. The crowd, estimated at 11,707, roared with every OU basket and wasn't muted for every Kansas basket, since the Jayhawks had their usual excellent road turnout. Among the hoops dignitaries were Thunder coach Billy Donovan, NCAA vice president for basketball Dan Gavitt and the ESPN GameDay crew of Seth Greenberg, Reece Davis and Jay Williams. Donovan even had trouble finding a seat.
He should have been running on fumes by the end of the game, but he scored 13 of the Jayhawks' final 17 points and even had enough left in his legs to sink a pair of crucial free throws with 19 seconds remaining.
"You can't emphasize it enough: Devonte' Graham was the player of the game," ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. "The man of the match. And when I say 'Man,' he was a man on both ends of the court. To accept the challenge of guarding Buddy Hield and then the challenge on the other end of leading the team on the offensive end? A magnificent performance by Devonte' Graham. Magnificent."
More than anything, they must recover from Saturday’s punch in the stomach. A rematch they wanted in the worst way, with ESPN College GameDay in town and first place in the Big 12 on the line, and it all fell to the Jayhawks when it counted.
“We lost a big game. We lost a huge game,” Woodard said. “But we can make it up.”
“They did a lot of things to win this game,” Hield said.
Self said the Jayhawks made some changes to how they wanted to defend Hield by forcing him off the 3-point line, limiting his transition baskets and preventing him from getting in the paint.
That appeared to work for much of the game. Still, Hield was huge for Oklahoma. He rallied the Sooners in the second half. Hield’s back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the second half gave OU a four-point lead. It appeared Hield, as he has done all season, was saving the Sooners again.
But Kansas is not every other team. The Jayhawks have talent, experience and Self.
“Coach Self has been here before,” KU forward Landen Lucas said. “We have confidence in him when he tells us something.”
Lucas was fabulous, although he scored only seven points. He controlled the interior, grabbing 10 rebounds, and limited OU’s interior players, Ryan Spangler and Khadeem Lattin, to combined 2-of-5 shooting, 12 points and nine rebounds.
VOTE for Devonte! ESPN Cap One Performance
“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
The Ferrell Center is supposed to be Baylor’s sanctuary, but recently it’s been a place where visitors come to feast.
It’s one thing to lose to Oklahoma and Texas, both currently ranked in the Top 25.
It’s quite another to get blown out by Texas Tech.
Shooting a torrid 57.8 percent from the field, the Red Raiders pulled away for an 84-66 win to hand the No. 21 Bears their third straight Big 12 home loss.
A big night from stars Georges Niang and Monte Morris — and a big lift from Jameel McKay off the bench — helped Iowa State get back on track.
Niang and Morris each scored 24 points as the No. 14 Cyclones beat 24th-ranked Texas 85-75 on Saturday in McKay's return from a two-game suspension.
Big 12 basketball may be stacked but it still has a Kansas problem. The Jayhawks are killing this league through no fault of their own.
This year was set up for some team other than Kansas to win the Big 12 title, but the Jayhawks are going to do it again. Sixth-ranked Kansas came to the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman as the ’dog to the third-ranked Sooners but left with a 76-72 win.
In case you are counting, and barring an unforeseen collapse, KU is likely going to earn at least a share of its 12th straight Big 12 championship.
It is a highly under-appreciated achievement, but it should not happen in this era.
…Big 12, shame on you. No one team in a power conference such as the Big 12 should routinely embarrass the rest of the league the way Kansas has for more than a decade. Not even Kentucky has done this in the SEC.
This is not the 1960s when UCLA was winning everything but NBA titles under Hall of Fame coach John Wooden. This is 2016 and countless teams are burning through cash to win in college basketball.
Whether it was Oklahoma, Iowa State or West Virginia, this was the year Kansas would finish second in the league.
Oklahoma has the college National Player of the Year in Buddy Hield, but on Saturday Buddy’s buddies failed him, and Kansas has been through this enough that it is not easily spooked, despite the environment.
More than 12,200 people jammed into the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday, along with ESPN’s College Game Day basketball crew. Also on hand were Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan and former OU and TCU coach Billy Tubbs. They were all here to see KU’s streak essentially end.
FW Star Telegram
The homecourt sledgehammer the Shockers carried, however, during a 43-game win streak in Koch Arena splintered on Saturday. Northern Iowa, the program that actually dared to take WSU to the wire in the Valley race last season, pulled off a 53-50 upset.
“I’m disappointed for us. The streak is over,’’ Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said. “It’s been almost three years since we lost in this building, but there’s nothing we can do now. We’ve got to start a new streak.’’
…The last two looks for Wichita State fittingly ended its miserable shooting luck. Dribbling downfloor on the last possession, Ron Baker came off a trailing screen that freed the senior up top.
The Shocks rebounded (of course) and, coming out of a time out with 2.8 seconds left, Conner Frankamp came off a strong-side screen that freed him in the corner.
TCJ (Longest active home win streak now resides in AFH!)
Jackson officially lists Michigan State, Arizona and Kansas, among others, but Bridges thinks it will come down to the first two.
"It's either Michigan State or Arizona, I think," Bridges said. "I think because he knows me and Cassius, then I hope he goes there. But if he goes to Arizona, he goes to Arizona."
He added: "I'm trying to get him there [to Michigan State]. It would be a great team if he does come. Just whenever I see him at a tournament, I call him like every two weeks."
Marques Bolden, a 6-foot-10 senior center from DeSoto (Texas) High who is ranked No. 16 in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, apparently has not eliminated Kansas from his list of schools.
Bolden’s dad, Melvin, tells Zagsblog.com that Marques has not sliced his list to Duke, Oklahoma, TCU and Kentucky.
“Nothing has changed in the past month or so,” Melvin Bolden told SNY.tv and zagsblog.com. “We have not added or dropped any schools.”
That means KU and Alabama, and possibly others, remain on the list.
Also, DeAndre Ayton, a 6-11 junior from Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix, who is ranked No. 4 in the Class of 2017, tells Zagsblog he has not cut his list to KU, Duke and Kentucky, as previously reported.
“Those aren't really my top, top three. I don't get on the phone with anyone. I don't have any of their numbers. I'm going to visit soon. I just like those schools because I like the players that have come out of those programs,” Ayton told Zagsblog.
Of KU, he said: “I love (Bill Self’s) program. I've been watching them for a while and everything runs through his bigs. He's just caught my eye to be honest.”
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