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Kansas falls to No. 11 in Associated Press college basketball poll

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) watches as Kentucky forward Alex Poythress (22) rejects his floater during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) watches as Kentucky forward Alex Poythress (22) rejects his floater during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. by Nick Krug

Kansas dropped six spots to No. 11 in the Associated Press college basketball poll in the wake of a 72-40 loss to No. 1 Kentucky, which received 62 of a possible 65 first-place votes. Wisconsin received the other three first-place votes.

The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 23, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

Record Pts Prv

  1. Kentucky (62) 5-0 1,622 1
  2. Wisconsin (3) 4-0 1,494 3
  3. Arizona 3-0 1,491 2
  4. Duke 5-0 1,474 4
  5. North Carolina 3-0 1,314 6
  6. Louisville 3-0 1,219 7
  7. Texas 4-0 1,187 10
  8. Virginia 4-0 1,165 9
  9. Wichita St. 3-0 1,120 11
  10. Gonzaga 4-0 1,077 13
  11. Kansas 1-1 981 5
  12. Villanova 3-0 917 12
  13. Iowa St. 2-0 828 14
  14. VCU 3-0 760 15
  15. San Diego St. 3-0 736 16
  16. Ohio St. 3-0 557 20
  17. Miami 5-0 521 _
  18. Florida 2-1 473 8
  19. Michigan 3-0 401 24
  20. Michigan St. 2-1 399 19
  21. West Virginia 5-0 344 _
  22. UCLA 4-0 173 _
  23. Creighton 4-0 148 _
  24. UConn 3-1 144 17
  25. Arkansas 3-0 131 _

Others receiving votes: Oklahoma 109, Stanford 80, Providence 63, Utah 38, Minnesota 21, N. Iowa 17, Rhode Island 16, Syracuse 15, Oklahoma St. 14, Georgetown 10, Memphis 10, Baylor 7, Indiana 6, California 5, Illinois 5, Nebraska 5, Cincinnati 4, NC State 4, Wyoming 4, Dayton 3, Maryland 3, UTEP 3, BYU 2, Northeastern 1, Xavier 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 - Kentucky: For Kentucky to reach its outrageous potential, point guard Andrew Harrison and twin Aaron Harrison, a shooting guard, must play 32 minutes a game. The four post players can split time equally and play physically without fear of foul trouble and not have to pace themselves, but the twins are such a dynamic duo, they’ll need to play more eventually. No shortage of extremely athletic candidates can fill the reserve backcourt and small forward minutes.

2 - Duke: Blue Devils took care of Michigan State, Temple and Stanford, all by double figures. Five games in, freshman point guard Tyus Jones has a 5-to-1 assists-to-turnover ratio, the team’s shooting .417 from three, freshman Jahlil Okafor and junior Amile Jefferson combine for 7.4 offensive boards a game and strong perimeter defender Quinn Cook averages 17 points, shoots .486 from three and has a 5.2-to-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio. In other words, the Blue Devils are strong on the perimeter and in the paint.

3 - Arizona: T.J. McConnell, the 6-foot-1 point guard who started his career at Duquesne, not only sets up the big men on a tall roster, he helps them out on the boards. In a 17-point victory against a good UC Irvine team, McConnell totaled 12 points, nine rebounds, four assists and six steals.

4 - Wisconsin: Preseason All-American Frank Kaminsky leads a talented team in scoring (19.3), rebounding (10.3), steals (1.3) and blocks (2.8), is second in assists (2.8) and third in three-point percentage (.444). Duke’s Dec. 3 visit to Kohl Center represents Badgers’ first serious test.

5 - Virginia: Opponents averaging 46.7 points per game against Cavaliers, who hunt shots patiently and hit them at a .415 clip from three-point land.

6 - Texas: Point guard Isaiah Taylor, who had shown signs of a much improved three-point shot to add to his ability to break down a defense, suffered a broken wrist that will cause him to miss most or all of the rest of the nonconference schedule. Barring setbacks, he’s expected to return right about the time Big 12 season arrives. Thanks to experienced junior Javan Felix, the Longhorns are better equipped than most to withstand the stretch without Taylor, but the injured sophomore is a first-team All-Big 12-caliber player.

7 - Gonzaga: At 6-10, Lithuanian freshman Domantas Sabonis, 18, is five inches shorter than his father, Arvydas Sabonis, a 7-3 European basketball legend before joining the Portland Trailblazers at age 31. The son appears to have inherited his father’s feel for the game. Domantas clearly knows a good shot from a bad one. He has an active streak of 14 consecutive field goals made. He leads the Zags in scoring (14), rebounding (7.5), field-goal pct. (.759) and free-throw percentage (.750).

8 - North Carolina: Tar Heels sixth-best offensive rebounding team in the nation, snagging 46.6 percent of their misses, compared to national average of 31.6, per

9 - Louisville: Shy on shooting — .619 from the line, .219 from three so far — the Cardinals will use smothering defense and other ways to win big.

10 - Wichita State: Shockers play great defense. Memphis committed 24 turnovers in 15-point loss to Wichita State.

11 - Villanova: So far, 32.1 percent of opponents’ possessions have ended in a turnover, the fourth-best figure in the country.

12 - Virginia Commonwealth: Prediction: Tonight’s game vs. Villanova will be decided in the fourth overtime. Both teams shoot a lot of threes, force a lot of turnovers.

13 - Kansas: The statistic that best captured the 32-point loss to Kentucky: The Jayhawks had the exact same number of shots blocked (11) as they made.

14 - Iowa State: Sophomore guard Monte Morris is off to terrific start. He’s averaging 37.5 minutes and 16.5 points and is shooting .647 overall and .667 from three.

15 - San Diego State: Steve Fisher looks to have one of the nation’s top defensive teams, which is a good thing because the Aztecs aren’t the greatest collection of shooters. In 53-49 victory against Utah, Aztecs shot just .327.

16 - Ohio State: Super quick guard Shannon Scott has embraced the role of playmaker, dishing more than looking to score. He set a school record with 16 assists in Sunday night a rout vs. Sacred Heart and he’s averaging 9.3 points and 13.7 assists.

17 - Michigan: Junior Spike Albrecht, who scored 17 points and made four three-pointers in the first half of a title-game loss to Louisville two seasons ago, isn’t off to as hot a start this year. He has scored 12 points in 77 minutes so far.

18 - Michigan State: Senior guard Travis Trice off to a monster start. He’s averaging 17.7 points and has hit half of his three-point shots.

19 - Miami, Fla.: Angel Rodriguez, the point guard who transferred from Kansas State, scored 24 points and hit a three-pointer with 16 seconds left to spark the Hurricanes’ victory at Florida. Another Big 12 transfer, Sheldon McClellan from Texas, also played a big role in the upset with nine points, seven rebounds and five assists.

20 - Arkansas: Mike Anderson making his old coach Nolan Richardson proud by coaching a defense that makes it tough for teams to take care of the ball. As hard as his players plays, particularly defensively, they need to take breathers. Anderson substitutes frequently and has 10 players averaging at least 15 minutes.

21 - UCLA: Sometimes the coach’s son plays a lot because he’s the coach’s son. Not the case here. Bryce Alford strokes it like his father Steve used to for Indiana. Bryce has made all 12 of his free throws and half of his three-point shots and is averaging 21 points, 10.7 assists and 1.7 steals.

22 - West Virginia: Bob Huggins’ coaching style isn’t for everyone and plays a part in a high transfer rate. Star Eron Harris and Terry Henderson were the latest to leave the program in the offseason. But give Huggins players with thick enough skin to take his brutal honesty and improve from it and Huggins will squeeze the most out of a team. The Mountaineers are off to a 5-0 start. After WVU harassed UConn into 19 turnovers in a 78-68 victory in Puerto Rico, Huggins said what he liked about his team.
“I’ve got my kind of guys again,” Huggins said. “I’ve got guys that are just going to keep swinging, you know?”

23 - Utah: If you like a player who does a little bit of everything, watch Utes 6-5 guard Delon Wright, who averages 11 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 3.0 steals and 1.7 blocks.

24 - Georgetown: Senior Josh Smith, the Hoyas’ 6-10, 350-pound center who started his career at UCLA is off to a strong start. He’s averaging 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds and will have a chance Wednesday to show what he can do against Florida.

25 - Oklahoma State: Anthony Allen, Jr., a 7-footer from Kingston, Jamaica, was the leading shot-blocker a year ago with 6.2 blocks a game. He’s not a scorer, but in 18.3 minutes a game is averaging 10 rebounds and 3.3 blocks a game. Is 7 for 7 from the field. But he’s going to have to do a better job of checking his temper to maximize his contributions to the Cowboys. He already missed a game because of a Flagrant 2.


Coaching search: Ohio State co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Ed Warinner

Kansas University Football Offensive Coordinator Ed Warinner, left, presents quarterback Todd Reesing with the 2007 John Hadl Offensive MVP Award on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.  KU celebrated their Orange Bowl victory and 12-1 record with fans at the Football Awards Banquet.

Kansas University Football Offensive Coordinator Ed Warinner, left, presents quarterback Todd Reesing with the 2007 John Hadl Offensive MVP Award on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. KU celebrated their Orange Bowl victory and 12-1 record with fans at the Football Awards Banquet. by thad-allender

Ohio State lost four starting offensive linemen, including three NFL rookies, from last season’s team. It showed in a 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech in the season opener for both teams.

That seemed like a distant memory when the Buckeyes went into East Lansing and buried then-No. 8 Michigan State, 49-37, nine weeks later.

Clearly, Ohio State offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner knows how to develop linemen. He knows offense, period. As he showed in three years at Kansas with Todd Reesing at quarterback, he also knows how to coordinator a pass-happy offense.

Everywhere else he has been, the lines he has coached produced big rushing numbers. The Buckeyes rank 14th in the nation with 263.1 rushing yards per game.

Warinner coached on offenses that led the nation in rushing at Army (three times) and at Air Force. He worked twice for Mark Mangino, first as offensive line coach and then after returning from Illinois he was offensive coordinator. With Reesing standing short and playing tall and Warinner coordinating the spread offense and calling the plays, KU had its three best offenses in history in terms of yards per game and passing yards per game.

He spent two years at Notre Dame and has been at Ohio State the past three seasons. Warinner has worked under head coaches Brian Kelley and Urban Meyer, considered two of the best in the business. At Michigan State, he worked as a graduate assistant for defensive coordinator Nick Saban, who stands at the top of his profession.

Starting with 2007 at Kansas, the teams for which Warinner has worked the past eight seasons have posted a .740 winning percentage.

Can he recruit? thinks so and named Warinner a 2014 Rivals Top 25 recruiter. Warinner’s daughters, Madisyn and Merideth, worked at the KU football complex.

Warinner has proven all can as an assistant coach and is primed for his first head-coaching job. His chances would be better of that happening at KU if not for Bowen making such a good impression thus far. Sometimes, possession is nine-tenths of the law.


Don’t count out Kelly Oubre becoming tonight’s mystery starter vs. Kentucky

Kansas head coach Bill Self has words for Kelly Oubre during a team huddle during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.

Kansas head coach Bill Self has words for Kelly Oubre during a team huddle during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. by Nick Krug

It's amazing how many Kansas basketball fans have lost sleep over Kelly Oubre playing just four minutes in the season-opening, 10-point victory against UC Santa Barbara. It was one game, not even 3 percent of basketball season.

Whatever point Self made in limiting Oubre's minutes, the freshman McDonald's All-American either adjusted or he'll continue to spend long stretches on the bench until he gets the point. For all we know, Oubre already has worked his way out of a short stay in the doghouse, every coach's favorite word to read in the newspaper.

Self has not revealed the identity of his fifth starter tonight and it won't come as a surprise if it's Brannen Greene, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk or Devonte Graham, playing with Frank Mason, Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor.

But if I had to guess the identity of tonight's fifth starter against Kentucky, I'd say Oubre. He didn't like sitting for 36 minutes, so my guess is he gave Self what he wanted of him in practice. If Oubre does start, it doesn't hurt Kansas than Kentucky hasn't seen more than four minutes of regular-season game action to learn how Self wants to use him.

If Self had more showmanship in him, he would substitute his entire starting lineup two minutes into the game, beating John Calipari to the punch, just for laughs. It would last forever as one of the most memorable moves in Champions Classic history, lead every SportsCenter and add juice to the already strong Self-Calipari rivalry. Self's too old-school for that. Every move will be designed at trying to win tonight's game. Maybe even every move he made last game had a little of tonight in mind as well.


Ten Big 12 players, four from Kansas, make Wooden Award preseason top 50 list; UCSB’s Alan Williams snubbed

Kansas forward Perry Ellis goes to the bucket against UC Santa Barbara forward Alan Williams during the first half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is UCSB guard John Green.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis goes to the bucket against UC Santa Barbara forward Alan Williams during the first half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is UCSB guard John Green. by Nick Krug

I wonder how John Wooden, in some ways the most famous name in the history of college basketball, would feel about the list of preseason candidates for the player of the year award that bears his name being based on NBA potential, not college performance.

Actually, having seen him coach and be interviewed on TV many times, I don’t wonder. Surely, he would not like it.

Yet, the preseason list of 50 candidates for the Wooden Award, released Monday, three days after the season started, had an omission that anyone who spent Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse would agree is unfortunate.

UC Santa Barbara center Alan Williams is not on a list that four Kansas players made: freshmen Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre, sophomore Wayne Selden and junior Perry Ellis.

Kansas defeated UCSB, 69-59, and in the process did a nice job of defending Williams. The senior finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. He scored 10 of his points in the final 5:16.

Oubre played four minutes and didn’t score a point or pick up a rebound. That’s not to say he won’t develop into a fine player by midseason, but that’s why the midseason Wooden Award watch list and allows for midseason adjustments. Twenty-five will make that cut and all the names don’t have to come from the original 50.

Williams ranked 12th in the nation in scoring (21.3) and second in rebounding (11.5) last season, but that didn’t merit top 50 status. Shame.

Interestingly, the Big 12, not the ACC, had the most candidates (10), followed by the ACC (eight), and the Big Ten and SEC (7).

The other Big 12 players on the list, listed in alphabetical order by player’s last name: Marcus Foster (Kansas State), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Georges Niang (Iowa State), Juwan Staten (West Virginia), Isaiah Taylor (Texas), Myles Turner (Texas).

Kansas and Kentucky (Willie Cauley-Stein, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, freshman Karl Anthony-Towns) are the only schools with as many as four players. Wichita State’s Fred Van Vleet is among the 50, which makes Kansas the only state represented by three different schools.


Kansas remains No. 5 in Associated Press college basketball poll

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk gets under UC Santa Barbara defender Michael Bryson on his way to the  bucket during the second half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk gets under UC Santa Barbara defender Michael Bryson on his way to the bucket during the second half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Kansas, which remained No. 5 in the Associated Press college basketball poll, faces No. 1 Kentucky in the second game of a Champions Classic doubleheader, in Indianapolis. No. 4 Duke faces No. 19 Michigan State in the first game.

The top 25 teams in The Associated Press' college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 16, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

         Record Pts Prv
  1. Kentucky (49) 2-0 1,574 1
  2. Arizona (4) 2-0 1,491 2
  3. Wisconsin (7) 2-0 1,475 3
  4. Duke (4) 2-0 1,422 4
  5. Kansas 1-0 1,306 5
  6. North Carolina 2-0 1,254 6
  7. Louisville 1-0 1,130 8
  8. Florida 1-0 1,127 7
  9. Virginia 2-0 1,065 9
  10. Texas 2-0 1,061 10
  11. Wichita St. 1-0 1,002 11
  12. Villanova 1-0 858 12
  13. Gonzaga 1-0 841 13
  14. Iowa St. 1-0 746 14
  15. VCU 1-0 654 15
  16. San Diego St. 1-0 564 16
  17. UConn 1-0 525 17
  18. Oklahoma 1-0 466 19
  19. Michigan St. 1-0 443 18
  20. Ohio St. 1-0 361 20
  21. Nebraska 1-0 298 21
  22. SMU 1-0 290 22
  23. Syracuse 2-0 190 23
  24. Michigan 1-0 177 24
  25. Utah 1-0 118 25

Others receiving votes: Stanford 63, Colorado 52, Iowa 48, UCLA 41, Kansas St. 29, Arkansas 23, Memphis 11, Minnesota 11, Notre Dame 10, Pittsburgh 10, Louisiana Tech 9, Dayton 7, Florida St. 6, NC State 6, Oklahoma St. 6, Cincinnati 5, George Washington 5, LSU 5, Illinois 3, Maryland 3, BYU 2, Baylor 2, UTEP 2, Georgetown 1, N. Iowa 1, Stephen F. Austin 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 - Kentucky: If John Calipari could convince all nine McDonald’s All-Americans to return in 2015-16, SMU coach Larry Brown would predict a 75-0 season, instead of 45-0.

2 - Duke: Jahlil Okafor, a 6-11, 270-pound freshman from Chicago, averages 18 points and 7.5 rebounds. He’s made 85 percent of his shots and looks like a guy who really enjoys playing basketball.

3 - Arizona: The Pac-12 school in Tucson is one of seven schools appearing in AP’s top 25 in both basketball and football, joining Duke, Oklahoma and four Big Ten schools (Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State and Nebraska).

4 - Wisconsin: Two games in, underrated sophomore Nigel Hayes from Toledo has 23 rebounds.

5 - Kansas: Which KU player will earn the most money in the NBA over the next 15 years? I’ll say Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, even though others will get a head start on him. And you say?

6 - Texas: Sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor made made five three-pointers all of last season, four two games into this season. And 6-foot-11, 240-pound freshman Myles Turner has played 40 minutes, totaling 25 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots. The Longhorns are loaded and shape up as legitimate national-title contenders.

7 - North Carolina: The academic scandal looks worse with every breaking story.

8 - Wichita State: Tekele Cotton has improved significantly every year and if his season debut (17 points, five rebounds, three steals) was an accurate indication, he’s primed for a big senior year.

9 - Louisville: None of the 15 players on the three All-American teams returned this season, so somebody had to be named preseason All-American. Montrezl Harrell, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound junior from Tarboro, North Carolina, seemed as good a choice as any. He certainly played like an All-American in delivering coach Rick Pitino a victory over son Richard. Harrell attempted 12 shots from the field and scored 30 points. He made 3 of 4 three-pointers and 9 of 10 free throws.

10 - Florida: The Gators are in the market for a football coach, which means the basketball team can fly under the radar for a while. Anybody else rooting for Steve Spurrier to return to Gainesville?

11 -Virginia: Big bodies, soft long-range shooting touches and a patient offensive approach combine to frustrate opponents who tend to fall behind and stay behind, getting tighter and tighter as the game clock shows less and less time.

12 - Villanova: Will need to shoot better than it did against Lehigh (8 for 33 from three) to win games in Big East, but did do other things well to compensate. In 77-66 victory, Wildcats limited Lehigh to four offensive rebounds and committed nine turnovers to the Mountain Hawks’ 23.

13 - Iowa State: Georges Niang, a tough guy to guard, is even tougher with improved conditioning, more experience and the team’s need for him to be the go-to guy. He totaled 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the Cyclones’ season-opening, 11-point victory against Oakland. And UNLV transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones, a 6-6, 210-pound scorer from Los Angeles, didn’t waste any time fitting in, with 20 points and 11 rebounds in his debut.

14 - Virginia Commonwealth: In scoring a 16-point victory against Tennessee, the Rams didn’t shoot well or take care of the basketball (18 turnovers), but they rebounded an amazing 47 percent of their misses.

15 - Gonzaga: Kyle Wiltjer, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound shooter, read the writing on the wall, which spelled the names of lottery picks galore, and bolted Kentucky, where he had averaged 10.2 points as a freshman. Nothing happened in his Zags debut to make him question that move. He scored 18 points and made 3 of 5 threes in 20 minutes against Sacramento State.

16 - Nebraska: Terran Petteway scored 25 points and made 6 of 9 threes in season-opener. Coming off averaging 18.1 points a year ago for the Cornhuskers, Petteway scored just 3.1 points a game as a freshman at Texas Tech.

17 - San Diego State: Coach Steve Fisher, an easy guy for whom to root, needs two more victories to reach the 500 milestone. His sixth won Michigan a national championship.

18 - SMU: Larry Brown will go down as one of the greatest coaches in basketball history and he wasn’t too shabby as a player. After playing for North Carolina, Brown was one of the original ABA players. In fact, Brown led the ABA in assists in each of the league’s first three seasons. He still sees the floor as well as anybody.

19 - Ohio State: Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell turned down Arizona, Florida, hometown Louisville and North Carolina to join the Buckeyes. He’s exactly what Ohio State needed, having its top three scorers from a team that needed scoring. A 6-5 lefty shooting guard, Russell debuted with a team-high 16 points and six assists.

20 - Oklahoma: TaShawn Thomas, a beast of a scorer and rebounder (15.4, 8.1) at Houston last season, has been granted immediate eligibility, which puts one more hurdle in KU’s way on its quest for an 11th consecutive Big 12 championship. He only had four points in 23 minutes in his Sooners debut, but he’ll be a force in time.

21 - Connecticut: The Huskies’ first title defense battle went better than that of Buster Douglas nearly a century ago, but not a whole lot better. Huskies had to get off the deck from a six-point deficit at the half to defeat Bryant, 66-53.

22 - Michigan: Wolverines opened season against Hillsdale College, a Div. II school in Michigan. The Wolverines shot threes (11 for 19) much better than they defended them (10 for 23).

23 - Notre Dame: Rough, rough ACC baptism for the Fighting Irish a year ago (15-17 overall, 6-12, tied for 11th in ACC), but that could be traced to Jerian Grant’s academic ineligibility for most of the season. He averaged 19 points a game. He and fellow senior Pat Connaughton give the Irish a great tandem at forward and sophomore guard Demetrius Jackson makes the team play at a fast pace.

24 - Michigan State: Putting the Spartans on the ballot is a reflex, but after they snuck by Navy by just eight points it’s worth wondering whether they deserve it, especially considering Notre Dame wasted the 25. Midshipmen by 39 points.

25 - Syracuse: The Washington Generals weren’t available so the Orange opened the season slaughtering Kennesaw State by 47 points and Hampton by 18.


Gauchos no slouches thanks to All-American candidate Alan Williams

I don’t think UC Santa Barbara will upset Kansas in tonight’s season-opener in Allen Fieldhouse. The home-court advantage is much greater in the fieldhouse than most places — especially in home openers, in which KU has won 41 in a row. Plus, Kansas has greater depth of talent.

But I will say that this sort of experience imbalance fits the profile of a March Madness upset. Two players on the floor tonight best illustrate the challenge for a young, elite school trying to defeat an experienced mid-major with a star player, and the challenge the mid-major faces in trying to overcome a raw talent disparity.

UCSB senior Alan Williams, all 6-foot-8, 265 pounds of him, ranked 12th in the nation with 21.3 points per game and second with 11.5 rebounds.

Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander, all 6-8, 240 of him, ranked fourth per among Class of 2014 recruits.

Both men have long wingspans — Williams 7-1-1/2, Alexander 7-3 — and Alexander is a more explosive jumper, a faster runner, blessed with better lateral quickness. Alexander can do certain things Williams never will be able to do because he has a more athletic body. Alexander can’t yet do many things Williams can, such as know how to make himself available in the post to receive passes for easy buckets, because he didn’t need to develop sophistication in his game to dominate. Properly sealing his man for an over-the-top pass is a reflex to Williams from any spot in the post. It’s something Alexander is learning on a daily basis at the big-man laboratory that on an annual basis is as good as any in the country. Williams knows how to draw fouls and avoid them. Alexander is learning how to do that.

Williams, who won’t play as difficult a schedule as Alexander, will produce more consistently. Alexander, coming off the bench tonight, will have help if he ever guards Williams. (Kansas likely will start with Jamari Traylor on him). During his time on the floor last season, Williams took 37.17 percent of his team’s shots, fifth-highest figure in the nation. So how does Kansas stop him tonight? The first step includes rattling the guards into throwing the ball away, even using full-court pressure at times.

“Williams is a great guy at getting angles,” Self said. “He scores before he catches. He’s a man down there. And he goes after the ball like a man. We haven’t had a man compete like he’ll compete against us, even in practice guarding each other, because he really gets after it.”

Nobody expects Alexander at this stage of his career to be as good at putting himself into easy scoring position as Williams, but nothing would make Alexander’s coach happier than if he duplicated the Gauchos All-American candidate in one area.

“You guys see him when the lights are on in the games,” Self said of Alexander. “I see him every day, and I will tell you this: I want him to be much more aggressive than what he’s been, but he is an aggressive-by-nature guy.”

Beyond Traylor and Alexander, Kansas has shot-blocker Hunter Mickelson and physical Landen Lucas are available to throw different looks at Williams.

Post defense ranks high among Self’s list of concerns about his shorter-than-usual roster and the Jayhawks are hit with a big test right off the bat, thanks to Williams.

“I wonder a lot about it and our length,” Self said. “He’s plenty good enough that if you play behind, he catches it and scores over you. If you front him, he’s great at sealing and they throw over and they look to do that, so we’re going to have to be pretty alert on the weak side, that’s for sure.”

UC Santa Barbara went 21-9 overall and 12-4 in the Big West last season, good for second place behind UC Irvine.

Michael Bryson, a 6-4, 201-pound junior, averaged 11.5 points a year ago and shot .417 from three-point range. Kyle Boswell, a 6-2 senior guard, averaged 10.4 points and shot .429 from three.

“Williams is their star, but Byron is a really good player, too, and he can move around the post, he’s a good three-point shooter, good athlete and they’re really quick on the perimeter,” Self said. “And they can stretch it the majority of the game at four spots, so it’ll be hard to trap the post and do things like that.”

After totaling 39 points, nine rebounds and eight blocked shots in an 83-64 rout of South Dakota State last December, the humble Williams showed he is as comfortable in front of a microphone as he is in the paint.


Harwell and King kill the curse of the KU four-year transfers

Kansas receiver Nigel King gets high over Iowa State defensive back Sam Richardson for a deep catch during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014.

Kansas receiver Nigel King gets high over Iowa State defensive back Sam Richardson for a deep catch during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. by Nick Krug

Finally, Charlie Weis’ strategy of recruiting transfers from four-year schools has significantly upgraded one unit of the Kansas University football program.

Receivers Nick Harwell (Miami of Ohio) and Nigel King (Maryland) have had a chance to show their talent since Michael Cummings took over at quarterback, halfway into Clint Bowen’s first game as interim head coach, at West Virginia.

Sophomore Montell Cozart played the first four games and half the fifth game, so he and Cummings both have started four-and-a-half halves.

Cummings faced tougher competition (West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Iowa State) than Cozart (Southeast Missouri State, Duke, Central Michigan, Texas, West Virginia). The remaining three games (TCU, at Oklahoma, at Kansas State) give Kansas the toughest remaining schedule in the nation, according to computer rankings.

A look the quarterbacks’ numbers:

     Comp-Att-Yds-Pct.-Yds/A-TD..KU-Opp. (points)

Cozart...... 64-128-701-50.0%-5.48-5................ 61-128
Cummings 94-158-1,160-59.5%-7.34-5............ 103-142

Now a look at the top three receivers, including senior tight end Jimmay Mundine:


Harwell In halves started by Cozart: 16-121-2
Harwell in halves started by Cummings: 21-280-2

Mundine in halves started by Cozart: 10-119-0
Mundine in halves started by Cummings: 23-281-2

King in halves started by Cozart: 6-92-0
King in halves started by Cummings: 17-276-0

Since Cummings took over at quarterback, Mundine (281), Harwell (280) and King (276) are within a five-yard span in reception yardage totals, an indication of how well Cummings has spread the wealth.

Before Harwell and King came to KU, the Jayhawks didn’t get much production out of transfers Dayne Crist and Anthony McDonald of Notre Dame, Jake Heaps of Brigham Young and Josh Williams of Nebraska. UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard remains third on the quarterback depth chart.

A pair of players who took advantage of the rule that enables graduated players to transfer without sitting out a year have done well after leaving Kansas. Defensive back Tyler Patmon played well for the Oklahoma State Cowboys and recently had a pick-six for the Dallas Cowboys.

Andrew Turzilli, who clocked the second-fastest 40 time on the team, ranking behind only Tony Pierson last spring, has used his speed to make big plays for Rutgers. He has just eight catches for the Scarlet Knights, but three of them have gone for touchdowns and he’s averaging an eye-popping 38.1 yards per catch. Four of his receptions have gone for 36 yards or more and he had a 93-yard TD catch vs. Tulane and an 80-yard catch against Michigan.

Turzilli’s a big target and deep threat, but the way Harwell and King are playing for KU, he would have had difficulty finding playing time.


Coaching search: Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery

The temptation for any hot-shot assistant college football coach is to take the first head-coaching offer that comes along, especially if it’s in a glamour conference such as the Big 12.

But with Kansas projecting to have such a weak roster for next season and with so little success in the past five seasons, it will be difficult for any coach to recruit top prospects and win games right off the bat.

A hot coaching prospect’s star fades faster than that.

Baylor coach Art Briles’ remarkable turnaround has been driven by an offense that perennially ranks among the best in the nation.

Philip Montgomery, 42, worked under Briles at Stephenville High, at the University of Houston and for the past seven seasons at Baylor, where he has been the Bears’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the past three seasons.

At Baylor, Montgomery always has the offensive mastermind Briles as a resource, a talented quarterback, fleet wide receivers, talented running backs and an efficient offensive line.

Going from that to the talent at Kansas might be a shock to his system.

Then again, Montgomery has had a front-row seat to Briles’ path from coaching a program with a losing tradition to one that is a perennial power on a national level.

Working for the charismatic Briles, Montgomery has remained in the shadows. He doesn’t appear to enjoy being dragged out of his comfort zone and interviews are not in his comfort zone. He doesn’t do very many of them. That begs the question of whether he would enjoy all that comes with being the head coach, the face of the program. If Montgomery has a colorful personality behind his stoic veneer, he would have to remove the mask as head coach at Kansas, which doesn’t sell out its football games and needs all the promotion it can get.

It also is a bit more of a risk taking a coordinator who works for a head coach whose strength is on the same side of the ball. In contrast to Montgomery, TCU's Doug Meacham works for Gary Patterson, a coach with a revered defensive mind.

On the positive side, Montgomery knows what a good quarterback looks like, having tutored Case Keenum and Kevin Kolb at Houston and Robert Griffin III, Nick Florence and Bryce Petty at Baylor. Those are great ties to talk up in a visit with recruits.

Another plus: More than 20 head high school football coaches in Texas either played for or coached for Briles, so their first call when they coach or play against an extremely talented sophomore, goes to Briles. He can’t take everybody. Maybe Montgomery would get the second call and upgrade the caliber of Texas recruits heading to Kansas.


Coaching search: TCU co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, Air Raid aficionado

TCU ranked 88th in the nation in scoring offense in 2013 with 25.1 points a game and ranks second now with 48 points per game. Same head coach. Same quarterback. Different offensive coordinators.

Doug Meacham and former Texas Tech quarterback Sonny Cumbie were hired in December as co-coordinators to install the Air Raid offense invented by Hal Mumme and made more famous by Mike Leach and then Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.

Meacham, 49, was hired away from Houston, where he spent one season as the OC. Before that, he spent eight seasons as an offensive assistant at Oklahoma State, his alma mater. He landed that job after coordinating offenses at Samford, Henderson State, Jacksonville State, Georgia Military College.

As an offensive lineman for Oklahoma State, he earned all-conference honors, started 35 consecutive games and blocked for Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders.

Meacham, 49, “is going to be the next hot guy and be a head coach,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy told the Oklahoman in the days leading up to TCU’s 42-9 rout of the Cowboys.

Horned Frogs junior quarterback Trevone Boykin threw seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions and averaged 6.8 yards per attempt in 2013. This season, Boykin has thrown 22 touchdowns, four interceptions and averaged 7.8 yards per attempt under the tutelage of Meacham and Cumbie.

Meacham never has been a head coach. Could he handle the multi-tasking required? Does he have the right demeanor to establish discipline, etc., or is he just an offensive guru? I don’t know, but if you’re doing a comprehensive search, you might as well put him on your long list and try to find the answers to those and many more questions.

Meacham has recruited Texas and Oklahoma and with Houston spanned the country seeking the right fits for the Air Raid offense.


KU coaching search: P.J. Fleck, youngest head coach in FBS

Let me start with a disclaimer: When I write about potential fits for the Kansas University football coaching job, which might not even come open if Clint Bowen shows he’s the best man for the job, I’m not saying athletic director Sheahon Zenger is considering the coach. I’m just turning over every stone as would any AD searching for a coach.

Today, let’s consider the profile of the youngest of the 128 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches.

Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck watches during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck watches during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

His name is P.J. Fleck. He is 33. And his Western Michigan football team that went 1-11 in 2013, his first year, is 6-3 and in contention to win the Mid-American Conference title. Fleck is one of three former NFL players (South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury heading an FBS program.

A wide receiver at Northern Illinois, from which he graduated in 2004, Fleck compiled one statistic as an NFL player when he returned a punt 10 yards for the 2004 San Francisco 49ers.

Enough about his playing career, it’s his fast rise as a coach that has generated headlines. He first worked as a graduate assistant for Jim Tressell at Ohio State in 2006. From there, he went to Northern Illinois and worked as wide receivers coach (2007-09) and recruiting coordinator (2009) and gained a reputation as an energetic, effective recruiter. Fleck spent the next two seasons working for Joe Novak for one season, current Minnesota coach Jerry Kill for two. Next, the ambitious Fleck went to work at Rutgers (2010-11) for Greg Schiano and followed Schiano to the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012).

Western Michigan, a Mid-American Conference in Kalamazoo, hired Fleck on Dec. 18, 2012, charging him with the task of rebuilding the program. Nobody had any right to expect him to deliver this quickly.

Western Michigan ranks 37th in the nation with 457.1 yards of offense per game and 36th with 34.6 points per game.

Fleck turns 34 on Nov. 29, which seems awfully young to tackle a Big 12 job. Then again, Ara Parseghian was 32 when he left his MAC job at Miami of Ohio for Northwestern, Woody Hayes 36 when he left Miami for Ohio State and Glen Mason 37 when he left Kent State for Kansas. A native of Sugar Grove, Illinois, Fleck’s recruiting contacts are in Big Ten country, not Big 12, which didn’t stop Mason from doing well at Kansas.

Turner Gill came to Kansas from Buffalo, a MAC school, and went 5-19 in two seasons.