Entries from blogs tagged with “basketball”

Say something nice about Kansas football: Pass defense took huge step forward in 2016

Kansas corner back Brandon Stewart runs back an interception for a touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas corner back Brandon Stewart runs back an interception for a touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The most obvious improvement Kansas made in 2016 from winless 2015 came courtesy of its pass defense.

The Jayhawks ranked 124th in the FBS with 293.7 passing yards allowed and moved all the way to 55th in 2016 with an average of 219.8 passing yards allowed per game.

In 2015, KU opponents completed 66.4 percent of their passes and averaged 8.8 yards per pass atempt. In 2016, the numbers were 59.1 percent and 7.4 yards per pass attempt.

It all started up front for the Jayhawks, where they ranked 40th in the nation with 2.33 sacks per game, compared to a still-respectable 2.17 sacks, good for 64th, in 2015.

The maturation of sophomore defensive end Dorance Armstrong and senior cornerback Brandon Stewart played big parts in solidifying the pass defense. Stewart's pick six in the upset of Texas gave him a signature play for a career that followed the path of many talented junior-college cornerbacks in that he struggled making the adjustment to the big-time as a junior and came on strong as a senior.

Obviously, I'm not allowed in the defensive meetings, but I have a hunch the veteran presence of linebacker coach Todd Bradford, a former defensive coordinator, also played a big role in KU shoring up its pass defense. I base that on how genuinely impressed defensive coordinator Clint Bowen has been with Bradford's knowledge and experience from Day 1. Keeping Bradford on the staff is a must for Kansas carrying the momentum of an encouraging finish into next season.

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Jayhawks in NFL share their support for #TeamCole

Cole Hayden attends a Kansas football home game in 2015, before being diagnosed with undifferentiated sarcoma.

Cole Hayden attends a Kansas football home game in 2015, before being diagnosed with undifferentiated sarcoma.

As young Kansas football fan Cole Hayden continues his fight against undifferentiated sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, his cheering section continues to grow.

Over the past couple of days, Cole’s mother, Shanda Hayden, shared video messages sent the youngster’s way courtesy of some of the most recognizable Jayhawks in the NFL.

Shanda, the KU football team’s academic and career advisor who has worked with the program for nearly a decade, is beloved by current and former players alike. Many around the team consider her a bit of a team mom. In turn, Cole has become a popular member of the Jayhawks’ family.

KU players and coaches have rallied around the determined boy, wearing #TeamCole bracelets and doing everything they can to support him and the Hayden family.

Now former players are letting Cole know they have his back, too. Tampa Bay safety Bradley McDougald reached out via video this weekend to the Haydens.

“I’m definitely pullin' for ya down here in Tampa,” McDougald said.

None by Shanda Hayden

Monday morning, Shanda shared another video message, this one from the top two Kansas players in the NFL, Denver Broncos cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib.

“Cole, man, stay strong,” Harris said. “We’re prayin’ for your family, prayin' for Miss Shanda. Just hope everything goes well.”

None by Shanda Hayden

Second-year Kansas football coach David Beaty often mentioned Cole’s fight and the Hayden’s throughout the season, dating back to KU dedicating its opener to #TeamCole.

None by Kansas Football

“Man, that dude is a tough dude,” Beaty recently said of Cole. “He's fighting, and just want to let Shanda know how thankful we and our players are for her. I don't think people know how much she does for these guys, and I know not just the guys we have here but the ones that have came before them. Man, a lot of those kids have degrees because of her. She wears so many hats for us, and not the least of which is what she does for them academically. She's like a second mom for them while she's here.”

With Cole’s battle often keeping Shanda away from the team of late, a number of Jayhawks went to visit the Haydens after their season ended to check in and help out with some holiday decorations.

None by Kansas Football

Sophomore receiver Steven Sims Jr. recently said the Jayhawks used FaceTime at one of their final practices to check in with Shanda, and players regularly get updates on Cole’s progress through Beaty.

“She’s a strong woman,” Sims said of Shanda Hayden, “and we’re fightin' for her, and she’s gonna keep fightin' for us.”

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KU football on hunt for ‘marquee’ recruits to bolster program’s rebuilding project

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

As Kansas football coach David Beaty and his staff keep persevering in their ongoing venture to reinvigorate a program that had been left to languish, the offseason months are just as critical as Saturdays in the fall.

The two most direct avenues for improvement — as Beaty referenced shortly after the conclusion of his second season at KU — are player development and recruiting. While the head coach thinks the Jayhawks already on campus are steadily getting bigger and better, Beaty knows that’s just one part of the process.

“And then I think the other thing is understanding we’ve gotta go out and continue to recruit and get some marquee players to help us,” Beaty said, “’cause every good coach I know has some really, really good ones. And we’ve got some good ones already, and we’ve gotta go get some really, really good ones from this point forward to be able to do what we want to do, which is win a lot and compete for championships.”

Just a week after those words left Beaty’s mouth, Kansas will welcome some highly sought after high school prospects to Lawrence. Adrian Ealy, a 6-foot-7 offensive tackle from Gonzales, La., will be in town this weekend to check out Anderson Family Football Complex and hear the KU staff’s recruiting pitch.

Running backs coach and Louisiana native Tony Hull, of course, deserves credit for getting Ealy — a four-star O-lineman who already has visited Oklahoma and has offers from Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Texas and many more — to give Kansas a look. A high school senior at East Ascension, Ealy is listed at 282 pounds. Rivals.com ranks him the 20th best prospect in the nation at his position.

None by Adrian Ealy

As reported by Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant, Ealy won’t be the only talented Louisiana recruit in town. Tevin Bush, a speedy 5-foot-5 athlete from New Orleans’ Landry Walker High (the same program that gave the Jayhawks starting safety Mike Lee), will visit Kansas this weekend, too.

A high school senior assessed three stars from Rivals, Bush already has verbally committed to West Virginia, but must be intrigued with Kansas as an option — thanks again to Hull — if he is making a visit. Bush also has picked up offers from Arkansas, Louisville, Texas Tech and others.

Although Ealy and Bush visiting campus obviously doesn’t guarantee anything for Kansas, it’s another indicator that Beaty seems to be steering the program in the right direction.

KU’s 2017 recruiting class already includes eight three-star prospects: former Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender, juco defensive back Hasan Defense, Texas prep linebacker Kyron Johnson, Louisiana prep receiver/athlete Travis Jordan, Derby standout receiver Kenyon Tabor, Garden City Community College defensive end Jamie Tago, Chicago high school defensive back Robert Topps and Texas prep running back Dominic Williams.

As Beaty suggested, Kansas needs a number of members in its latest recruiting class to come in and make a difference — just like Lee, defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., defensive tackle Daniel Wise and receiver Steven Sims Jr. did before them.

The more impactful recruits the staff lands, the quicker KU can escape the Big 12 cellar and start chasing Beaty’s hopeful longterm goals.

None by Zach Yenser

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David Beaty enters offseason optimistic about KU’s player development

Kansas head coach David Beaty looks up at the scoreboard during the third quarter, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Kansas head coach David Beaty looks up at the scoreboard during the third quarter, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. by Nick Krug

David Beaty’s first fall as Kansas football coach went pretty miserably. Twelve games. Twelve losses. Minimal hope for the future for a frustrated fan base.

Only someone as positive as Beaty could come away from the 2015 campaign feeling optimistic, and, of course, he did.

So it came as no surprise this past weekend, upon the conclusion of Year 2 for Beaty, the man running the program sounded even more fired up entering the offseason. Asked to assess his second year compared to his first, Beaty didn’t reference the Jayhawks’ 2-10 overall record or 1-8 mark in the Big 12.

“One of the best things that we’ve done is I think we’ve developed the guys that we have in our program,” Beaty offered. “There’s two ways I think you get better: you recruit and you develop the one’s you’ve got. ’Cause you’re not gonna get any more — they’re not gonna give you any more. You have what you’ve got and then you get to go get 25 (in recruiting), is what you get to get.”

The progress Beaty alluded to showed up in 2016 thanks to freshmen and sophomores making significant on-field contributions.

Kansas wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (11) is brought down by Baylor safety Davion Hall (2) during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.

Kansas wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (11) is brought down by Baylor safety Davion Hall (2) during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

A year ago, receiver Steven Sims Jr. caught 30 balls for 349 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman. His production leapt to 72 receptions, 859 yards and seven touchdowns — all team-highs — as a sophomore.

A true freshman who graduated a year early to join KU football ahead of schedule, safety Mike Lee tied senior safety Fish Smithson for the team lead with 70 solo tackles. Lee’s 77 total tackles trailed only Smithson (93) and he didn’t become a starter until October.

Defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., while expected to play a key role for Clint Bowen’s defense, turned into one of the Big 12’s most disruptive forces. Armstrong likely will finish the year as the league’s top tackler for loss. His 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage lead Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis’ 15 — though the Wildcats’ end still has a Saturday date at TCU to try and catch up. Plus, Armstrong finished his second season with 10.0 sacks, currently second in the Big 12 to Willis’ 10.5.

Mostly playing as a replacement starter for Marcquis Roberts, who missed five games, sophomore linebacker Keith Loneker Jr., in his first season of FBS football, finished sixth among KU defenders in tackles, with 43, while also breaking up four passes.

Second-year defensive tackle Daniel Wise, who looked the part of a future impact interior lineman as a freshman, fulfilled that promise. Wise came through with 10 tackles for loss and 38 total stops playing a spot where it’s difficult to produce many statistics.

Redshirt freshman Carter Stanley took over starting quarterback duties with three games left and Kansas experienced the best stretch of its season to close it. In his three starts, Stanley completed 71 of 124 passes (57.3 percent) for 693 yards, with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

Freshman defensive end Isaiah Bean, in limited playing time, finished with 3.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks.

“And the thing that I’m very proud of our strength staff, our coaches, is they develop those guys,” Beaty said of the program’s youngest talents. “They’re a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger, a little bit faster. … They’re all very young, which they’re gettin' something we can’t give ’em, which is experience. Unfortunately sometimes it comes with growin’ pains when you’ve got a bunch of ’em out there at once. Maybe sometimes not so much when you’ve got one or two of ’em, but if you’ve got a bunch of ’em out there, there’s some growin' pains that come along with that.”

The hope for Kansas is less of those aches will show up in 2017, with Armstrong, Sims, Lee, Wise, Stanley and Loneker returning, with running backs Khalil Herbert and Taylor Martin, and offensive linemen Hakeem Adeniji, Mesa Ribordy and Larry Hughes among the promising underclassmen.

Plus, upperclassmen such as receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez, O-lineman Jayson Rhodes, defensive tackle DeeIsaac Davis, linebacker Joe Dineen, cornerback Derrick Neal and safety Tyrone Miller Jr. will continue to play big parts in the Jayhawks' plans.

“But, man, I think the thing that I’m most impressed with is the way that we’re developing ’em,” Beaty said. “I think if we can continue to do that we’ll have a chance to be a very competitive ball club here in the future.”

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Bill Self disappointed with Kansas bigs in victory over Long Beach State

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for position inside during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for position inside during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The limited second-half contributions of Kansas post players Tuesday night against Long Beach State weren’t enough to restore head coach Bill Self’s trust in his team’s bigs.

After all, the Jayhawks already had put the 49ers away by halftime, long before starting center Udoka Azubuike or sophomore power forward Carlton Bragg put the basketball through the hoop in a 91-61 rout.

For years, Self’s teams have relied upon a low-post scoring threat to facilitate the offense — from Wayne Simien, to Thomas Robinson, to Joel Embiid. Seven games into this season, though, the coach doesn’t think that traditional approach will work for his Jayhawks (6-1).

“We scored 48 points the first half and our big guys combined for one,” Self marveled after the victory, referencing Udoka Azubuike’s single made foul shot during the first 20 minutes. “And we had to bank in that one from the free-throw line to get one. So obviously you’re not gonna win consistently against good teams relyin' on makin’ three-point shots all the time, because there’s gonna be times where you don’t make ’em.”

Self expected much more out of his big men against Long Beach State, but utilized a four-guard approach often on a night KU shot 14-for-26 from three-point range and frontcourt players accounted for just 18 of the team’s 91 points.

The coach conceded Long Beach State (1-8) played a “kind of funky” matchup zone that the Jayhawks didn’t prepare much for and that kept the offense out of rhythm. Self also said Landen Lucas (oblique strain) missing the game hampered the team’s inside play, as did Bragg picking up two fouls in the first half, when the sophomore got on the floor for all of one minute.

But when Self looked at the box score and saw the following numbers from his big men, it just translated into disappointment.

- Azubuike: 3-for-6 FGs, 2-for-6 FTs, 8 points, 7 rebounds, 0 blocks

- Bragg: 3-for-7 FGs, 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 turnovers

- Dwight Coleby: 1-for-1 FGs, 2 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block

Considering Azubuike had dunked his way to 17 points four days earlier against UNC Asheville, Self demanded more from the freshman 7-footer, calling him “no factor” against LBSU.

The coach proceeded to present his wish list for the Kansas bigs moving forward.

“At least a big can block a shot. We get no blocked shots tonight. I think the bigs can rebound better and I think that we can score with angles better, and certainly we can shoot our free throws better,” Self said. “But we’re not gonna be a team that scores 20 points out of the post this year. I don’t think that’s gonna be the case.”

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) and Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) battle for a rebound with Long Beach State forward Roschon Prince (23) during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) and Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) battle for a rebound with Long Beach State forward Roschon Prince (23) during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU veteran Devonté Graham understands his coach’s frustrations. But the junior guard said this Self team, even when it has four guards on the floor, won’t completely abandon its interior players as an offensive option.

“We still got that same mentality, though. Coach always tellin' us to play inside-out,” Graham said. “But I just think tonight we shot the ball real well, so we was just trying to be aggressive — kept attacking, kept shooting and making shots.”

Plus, Graham pointed out, LBSU set up its defense to pack in and try to take away points in the paint (though KU still scored 36 of those), almost inviting Kansas to shoot 3-pointers instead.

Obviously KU won’t see the same kind of defense every night if its guards keep burying open looks from downtown. And then the burden to score will increase for the team’s bigs. What’s more, Graham doesn’t think the Kansas post players will let their woes persist, even after a disappointing night.

“They’re doin’ real well with it,” Graham said. “They’ve been goin’ hard at each other in practice. So they’re gettin' better. They havin' that little slump, but I think definitely Carlton and Landen and ’Dok are doin’ a great job of gettin' through it.”

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Kansas guards rewarding coach Bill Self for trust he puts in them

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) watch a free throw during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) watch a free throw during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

It sometimes can take quite a while for Kansas basketball players to earn the trust of their demanding coach, Bill Self.

That’s what made something Self said Monday afternoon so interesting when asked how much importance he puts on the first play of the game.

“Not much,” Self said, “although probably for the last 10 years we’ve scripted the first five plays every game, until this year. We haven’t scripted really this year much at all. We script the first play, obviously, but after that we really haven’t scripted much.”

Interesting. Why the change?

“I’ve found the best way to play with guys that we presently have is to let them play, not to try to tell them how to play,” Self said. “I think that’s worked out better for us and maybe save the scripted plays for an ATO (after timeout).”

Self is the Larry Brown of his era in turning ATO’s into points.

His backing off on scripting in general says a lot. First, I think it says he trusts his guards, which makes sense since senior Frank Mason and junior Devonte Graham are so experienced and such smart players.

It also might say that he what he trusts most about them and fellow perimeter player freshman Josh Jackson is that they will play with unbridled aggressiveness. Scripting too much can lead to too much thinking, which can temper aggressiveness.

Graham, Jackson and Mason put so much pressure on teams at both ends and they seem to enjoy playing together to such an extent that they feed off of each other and fuel each other’s attacking style.

The trio is terrific at collapsing defenses with strong drives to the hoop and nearly as good at collapsing offenses with Mason and especially Graham pressuring the ball and Jackson sniping in the passing lanes better than any Kansas player since Mario Chalmers.

It really is quite a compliment to the players that Self has minimized scripting plays. So for the starting perimeter trio has made the coach look smart for doing so.

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Who’s the best 3-point shooter for Kansas this season?

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) puts up a three from the corner over Georgia forward Mike Edwards (32) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) puts up a three from the corner over Georgia forward Mike Edwards (32) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

A little less than three weeks into the season, the No. 4-ranked Kansas basketball team has shot just 35.5% from 3-point range. Dozens of games remain to be played and it’s a small sample size, but that rate of success marks a noticeable dip from last year, when the Jayhawks had more shooting threats on the roster and hit 41.8% from downtown.

As many likely expected, three KU players have emerged as the top long-range shooters for the 2016-17 campaign: senior Frank Mason III and juniors Devonté Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk — the three top returning shooters for a program that lost Wayne Selden Jr., Perry Ellis and Brannen Greene as outside options.

So who will emerge as the top marksman on the Jayhawks’ perimeter? Depends on whom you ask.

“Obviously everybody can shoot,” Mykhailiuk responded. “You know, last game Frank was five-for-five from three, 100 percent. Every game’s a different game and different guys hit shots.”

As the wing from Ukraine referenced, Mason couldn’t miss in the rout of UNC Asheville on Friday, improving his accuracy from beyond the arc to 48% thus far.

So is Mason the Jayhawks’ top sharpshooter? That Bill Self character probably has an opinion on the matter.

“Yeah, Frank’s shooting it really well,” Self said. “But you guys get so hung up on what happens in one game against North Carolina Asheville. I mean, in the big scheme of things that really doesn’t matter. I’d rather see what happens consistently over a seven- or 10-day period. And certainly I think we’ve got multiple guys capable of having big nights like Frank did the other night.”

OK, the head coach doesn’t want to single one guy out. So what does surging sophomore guard Lagerald Vick think?

“Svi. Hands down,” Vick said without hesitation.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) puts up a three from the corner over Indiana forward OG Anunoby (3) during the second half of the Armed Forces Classic at Stan Sheriff Center, on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) puts up a three from the corner over Indiana forward OG Anunoby (3) during the second half of the Armed Forces Classic at Stan Sheriff Center, on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. by Nick Krug

Why Mykhailiuk?

“Even on bad days he still is a good shooter,” Vick replied. “Coach always get on him when he’s not jumpin’ on his shot. You know he can make shots. I watch him shoot a lot. I get techniques from him. He’s definitely the best shooter on the team.”

Mykhailiuk has knocked down 11 treys, one fewer than Mason’s team-best 12 to this point. But it’s hard to ignore Graham as a top option. Even though he’s off to a slow start (32.4% from deep), Graham led Kansas in 2015-16 with 75 3’s on the season while draining 44.1%.

As far as Self is concerned, any number of his players are capable of being considered the best 3-point shooter in crimson and blue.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a three before UAB guard Tyler Madison (22) and UAB forward William Lee (34) during the first half of the CBE Classic on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016 at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a three before UAB guard Tyler Madison (22) and UAB forward William Lee (34) during the first half of the CBE Classic on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016 at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

“I would say if we were having a HORSE contest, I’d say Svi. But depending on game situations and things like that, then Frank’s pretty good,” Self added. “But Devonté’s good, too. I won’t quite put Lagerald (Vick) and Josh (Jackson) in that group, but I think they could become, at any particular game, could be our best shooter in the game.”

Vick and Jackson have only made seven 3-pointers between them this year, so they definitely can’t lay a claim to KU’s unofficial shooting crown.

Still, Vick considers joining that conversation one of his goals. He noticed upon reviewing game footage earlier this season a tendency to fade backward some on his jumpers. So Vick has made a point since to stay straight up and down when he rises up for a release.

“I’ve been stayin’ in the gym, just workin' on my jumpshot, lookin’ at the film and stuff,” Vick said, “so that should help me catch up with those guys.”

Personally, I’d cast my vote for Mykhailiuk as the best Jayhawk from deep. He shoots with the form Vick is trying to mimic and has that feathery touch on his release that convinces you the ball will fall through the net each time it leaves his hands. Plus, at 6-foot-8, he doesn’t have to always put so much of his body into his longest attempts.

What’s more, Mykhailiuk, who shot 37-for-92 (40.2%) while playing just 12.8 minutes a game as a sophomore, said he feels good about his shot and thinks he’s better this year.

“I think I’m more confident,” he said, “and I get more open looks.”

— Below is a look at how each of KU’s rotation guards has shot from 3-point range through six games.

Mason: 12-for-25, 48%

  • 1-for-5 vs. Indiana

  • 0-for-1 vs. Duke

  • 1-for-4 vs. Siena

  • 3-for-6 vs. UAB

  • 2-for-4 vs. Georgia

  • 5-for-5 vs. UNC Asheville

Mykhailiuk 11-for-27, 40.7%

  • 2-for-5 vs. Indiana

  • 0-for-3 vs. Duke

  • 2-for-4 vs. Siena

  • 4-for-5 vs. UAB

  • 1-for-6 vs. Georgia

  • 2-for-4 vs. UNC Asheville

Graham 12-for-37, 32.4%

  • 2-for-6 vs. Indiana

-1-for-6 vs. Duke

  • 0-for-3 vs. Siena

  • 4-for-9 vs. UAB

  • 3-for-9 vs. Georgia

  • 2-for-4 vs. UNC Asheville

Jackson 3-for-12, 25%

  • 1-for-3 vs. Indiana

  • 1-for-2 vs. Duke

  • 0-for-0 vs. Siena

  • 1-for-4 vs. UAB

  • 0-for-0 vs. Georgia

  • 0-for-3 UNC Asheville

Vick 4-for-17, 23.5%

  • 1-for-3 vs. Indiana

  • 0-for-4 vs. Duke

  • 0-for-1 vs. Siena

  • 0-for-3 vs. UAB

  • 0-for-2 vs. Georgia

  • 3-for-4 vs. UNC Asheville

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Watch Wayne Selden Jr. sky for a savage D-League slam

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) puts down a slam dunk in the second-half against the Connecticut Huskies in a 73-61 win at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA. Saturday, March 19, 2016.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) puts down a slam dunk in the second-half against the Connecticut Huskies in a 73-61 win at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA. Saturday, March 19, 2016. by Mike Yoder

Since Wayne Selden Jr. left the University of Kansas a year early to enter the NBA Draft, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for the young shooting guard.

A meniscus tear in his right knee slowed Selden down leading up to the draft, which came and went without the 6-foot-4 prospect hearing his name called. And though Selden landed a preseason camp invite from Memphis, the Grizzlies parted ways with him before the regular season.

Though his basketball journey currently finds Selden in the NBA’s Developmental League, it doesn’t seem to have curbed his approach. Eight games into the season, he’s averaging 19.5 points to lead the Iowa Energy, the Grizzlies’ D-League affiliate.

Selden is hitting 2.3 3-pointers a game at a 35.3% clip and averaging 6.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals, too.

His overall 47.6% shooting from the floor, no doubt, has been helped by his tenacity in attacking the rim.

On Sunday, in a game against Fort Wayne, Selden drove to the paint and took off for a nasty one-handed throw-down over Rakeem Christmas as if to say, “Bah humbug!”

The 22-year-old Selden currently ranks 17th in the D-League in scoring. That won’t guarantee him an invite to an NBA roster by any means, but the more he keeps playing with confidence and aggression, the more Selden will get noticed by organization’s scouts and increase his odds of speeding up his track to The Association.

Selden’s knee doesn’t appear to be giving him any issues at this juncture, which is a good sign. His strength and athleticism are a big part of his game on both ends of the floor.

And, of course, the more he works on his 3-pointer the better. So far Selden has hit 18 of 51 from long range. If he can get his 3-point shooting at or above 40% he’ll look that much more enticing to NBA decision-makers.

Perhaps going undrafted has inspired Selden. His highlights make him look one of the better young players in the D-League.

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Quarterback forecast for 2017 best in years

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) heaves a long pass from the Jayhawks' own end zone during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) heaves a long pass from the Jayhawks' own end zone during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. by Nick Krug

It's not a reach to project for 2017 the best quarterback play Kansas has had in the post-Todd Reesing years.

Redshirt freshman Carter Stanley, the third quarterback to start a game for Kansas during a 2-10 season, easily was the best.

It's no coincidence that the offensive line performed the best it has during David Beaty's two years as head coach once Stanley became the starter. O-lines always look better protecting a quarterback and opening holes for running backs when a decisive QB is at the controls of the offense. Having a running threat at quarterback also helps an offensive line and Stanley is a better scrambler and runner than the faster Montell Cozart and the slower Ryan Willis.

Stanley's statistics weren't mind-blowing by any stretch, but they clearly were better than his predecessors.

Statistical comparison for this season's 11 games vs. FBS competition:

Points per start: 1 - Stanley 22.3; 2 - Cozart 15.1; 3 - Willis 15.0.

Touchdowns/Interceptions: 1 - Stanley 5/6; 2 - Cozart 4/8; 3 - Willis 1/7.

Yards per attempt: 1 - Willis 6.18; 2 - Stanley 5.94; 3 - Cozart 5.31.

Passes attempted per sack: 1 - Cozart 63.3; 2 - Stanley 19.5; 3 - Willis 7.3.

Completion percentage: 1 - Willis 60.2; 2 - Stanley 59.2; 3 - Cozart 57.0.

Yards per rush attempt: 1 - Stanley 3.90; 2 - Cozart 3.08; 3 - Willis -0.83.

Stanley ranked first in 3 of 6 categories, second in the other three. Cozart ranked first in one category, second in three and third in two. Willis ranked first in two, third in four.

The emergence of Stanley alone ranks no better than second among reasons for a bullish 2017 outlook at quarterback.

My guess is juco transfer and former Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender will win the job in the spring. For one thing, Bender has the arm strength to put more zip on the sideline passes that are a big part of Beaty's Air Raid offense.

Those familiar with the extremely entertaining, insightful Netflix docu-series "Last Chance U," know that East Mississippi Community College plays big-time football. Well, Bender, playing for Itawamba, threw for 566 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-42 loss to Buddy Stephens' talented squad. Bender completed 39 of 59 passes and did not throw a single interception.

The addition of Bender and emergence of Stanley gives Tyriek Starks more time to add seasoning. A dual-threat QB from New Orleans, Starks has four seasons of eligibility remaining. Unlike Stanley and Bender, Starks had no experience in an Air Raid offense before coming to Kansas. Bender played in Air Raid attacks in high school, at Washington State and at Itawamba. Stanley's high school ran the Air Raid as well. No point in rushing Starks, who needs more seasoning.

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Frank Mason delivers another big night against Georgia

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) pulls up for a shot over Georgia guard Juwan Parker (3) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) pulls up for a shot over Georgia guard Juwan Parker (3) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

1 - Frank Mason: Led the Jayhawks in scoring for the fourth time in five games with 19 points. He made 2 of 4 free throws and put the pressure on Georgia's defense until tiring late in the game and mixed it up well enough to grab five rebounds. Also had three assists and three steals. He disrupted Georgia's plans at both ends, even though it wasn't one of his cleanest nights, as evidenced by his five turnovers. Earned all-tournament honors.

2 - Josh Jackson: Named CBE Classic MVP after another big night. Totaled 15 points with a game-high 11 rebounds, did a nice job passing from the high post, showed extremely quick hands on a blocked shot and moved fast in both directions in transition. Rebounds like a big man, but is not equipped to defend the post. He does slide his feet well enough to guard a point guard, if needed. Jackson understands the value of good ball movement and does his part to promote it by keeping the ball moving most of the time. For a man who can do such amazing things at such high speeds and altitudes, has trouble when standing still in a quiet arena. Has made just 11 of 23 free throws.

3 - Devonte Graham: Did a nice job of shutting down high-scoring Georgia guard (two points, nearly 17 below his average) until Kansas went to a zone, which was for about 30 minutes of the game. Didn't stay hot from outside after coming out on fire Monday night. Made 3 of 9 three-pointers. Scored 14 points with two assists and four steals and had just one turnover in 36 minutes.

4 - Lagerald Vick: Has made just 1 of 11 three-point shots, which might be a disguised blessing because it will force him to look first for the drive, a good way for him to go because he's so quick. Had his second eight-rebound game to go with nine points in 24 minutes.

5 - Dwight Coleby: Foul trouble forced him into the game and responded well playing, "by far," the best of KU's bigs, coach Bill Self said. Coleby blocked four shots, had four rebounds and two points before fouling out after 20 minutes of action. He said his leg is almost all the way back, but he still does not run as if his surgically repaired knee is at full strength yet.

6 - Svi Mykhailiuk: Georgia had quick defenders in its zone and Svi tends toward shooting worse against quick defenders. Made 1 of 6 three-pointers, picked up three rebounds, an assist and a steal without turning it over.

7 - Udoka Azubuike: Self explained that he only played five minutes because he has not had enough practice playing in a zone defense.

8 - Carlton Bragg: I don't understand why Self played him 10 minutes and by that I mean I don't understand why he played him that much. Yante Maten had his way down low with 30 points and 13 rebounds and Bragg was not able to help out to make life more difficult for him. Bragg had just three points and one rebound, which came at the offensive end.

9 - Landen Lucas: Might his foot, which requires him to wear a boot, be hindering him more than he's letting on? Played 10 scoreless minutes, had more turnovers (three) than rebounds (two) and fouled out. He hasn't looked like the same player who played such a key role in helping Kansas advance to the Elite Eight last season.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Georgia


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Say something nice about Kansas football: Dorance Armstrong deserves to be in running for All-American honors

Kansas sophomore defensive end Dorance Armstrong works out with the team at Memorial Stadium, early Friday, July 29, 2016.

Kansas sophomore defensive end Dorance Armstrong works out with the team at Memorial Stadium, early Friday, July 29, 2016. by Mike Yoder

In writing about Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong after the potentially program-turning upset of Texas, I left off the final sentence of a string of superlatives that safety Fish Smithson said about Armstrong until I could research it.

"Statistically," Smithson said, "I think his stats will match up with any defensive end in the country."

Smithson not only knows his stuff on the field in making the calls for the defense, he knows his national statistics. Since All-Americans need numbers to back them up and Armstrong has them, that makes him a bona fide All-American candidate.

Take a look at how Armstrong stacks up in two key statistical categories for defensive ends, sacks and tackles for loss:

PLAYER (POS.) School G Sacks;

1 - Hunter Dimick (DE) Utah 11 14.0;
2 - DeMarcus Walker (DE) FSU 11 13.0;
3 - Harold Landry (DE) BC 11 12.0;
3 - Jaylon Ferguson (DE) LaTech 11 12.0;
5 - Ejuan Price (DE) Pitt 11 11.0;
5 - Derek Barnett (DE) Tenn 11 11.0;
5 - Shaquem Griffin (LB) UCF 11 11.0;
8 - Arden Key (DE) LSU 10 10.0;
8 - Dorance Armstrong(DE) KU 11 10.0;
8 - Takkarist McKinley(DE) UCLA 11 10.0;
8 - Jimmie Gilbert (LB) Col. 11 10.0;

PLAYER (POS.) SCHOOL G TFL;

1 - Haason Reddick(DE) Temple 11 20.0;
2 - Hunter Dimick (DE) Utah 11 19.5;
2 - Bradley Chubb (DE) NC State 11 19.5;
4 - Ejuan Price (DE) Pitt 11 19.0;
4 - Ed Oliver (DT) Houston 11 19.0;
6 - McKinley (DE) UCLA 10 18.0;
7 - Armstrong (DE) KU 11 17.0;
7 - Barnett (DE) Tenn 11 17.0;
7 - Carroll Phillips (DE) Ill. 11 17.0;
7 - Tanzel Smart (DT) Tulane 11 17.0;
7 - Woody Baron (DT) Va. Tech 11 17.0;

Armstrong ranks tied for seventh in the FBS in sacks and, as you can see, only four other players, all defensive ends, are listed in the top 10 in the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss: Utah's Dimick, Pitt's Price, UCLA's McKinley and Tennessee's Barnett.

That doesn't mean Armstrong will be named All-American. KU's 2-9 record, which could fall to 2-10 Saturday in Manhattan, won't help his cause. His stats do mean he's a bona fide All-American candidate.

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KU’s upset win over Texas sends shockwaves across the globe, Twitterverse

Everybody loves to root for the underdog and when the Kansas Jayhawks forced overtime and earned an eventual 24-21 win over Texas, it captured the attention of college football fans everywhere.

As expected, KU's first victory over Texas since 1938 sent shockwaves across the nation — and the globe. Famous Korean Kansas City Royals fan Sungwoo Lee confirmed the Jayhawks' win made headlines on Korea's international channel.

Then, of course, former KU players, athletes from other sports and many others shared their excitement across Twitter. Fans stormed the field, eventually tore one of the goal posts down and carried it out of the stadium to, presumably, Potter Lake.

Below are some of the many social media highlights that accompanied KU's first Big 12 win of the season.

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The next Todd Reesing? Watch these videos and you be the judge

I called Kale Pick to congratulate him and write a story about his promotion to head football coach at Fort Scott Community College. I came away with a bonus.

Pick forever will be linked to the great Todd Reesing because he was his successor, although he lasted only three quarters before Turner Gill turned to Jordan Webb. Now, Pick himself brought up a link to Reesing without any prompting from me. (I have been accused of writing too often about Reesing and just wanted to make it clear it’s Pick’s fault this time).

Pick was Fort Scott’s offensive coordinator this past season and he gives most of the credit for the school’s monumental offensive improvement in one season to freshman quarterback Nathan Rourke, a 6-foot-3, 209-pound scrambler.

“He was one vote shy of player of the year in the Jayhawk Conference, which a lot of people say is the SEC of junior college,” Pick said. “Our offensive line was probably the worst in the conference, our receivers were pretty mediocre and he led every passing category. This kid is special.”

How special?

“I’m the last one to ever make comparisons,” Pick said, which meant he was about to make one, “but if you watch his HUDL (highlight tape), he reminds me a lot of Todd Reesing.”

Those words made me sit up straight and move to the edge of my recliner.

Tell me more. Tell me more. He told me more, but first, have a look at Rourke’s video.

He really does call to mind Reesing, scrambling in every direction, yet forever keeping his eyes downfield.

Rourke moved from Canada for his senior year of high school, which he spent at Edgewood Academy in Elmore, Ala. Rourke threw 59 touchdown passes and three interceptions for Edgewood. He completed 75 percent of his passes and averaged 15.4 yards per completion.

Pick said that out of high school Rourke received offers from FCS schools, but wanted to gain exposure at a junior college for a year in hopes of landing at an FBS school. Iowa State and Baylor are interested, according to Pick. Note the positioning of the field goal posts from his highlight video from his junior season Holy Trinity Catholic High in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Kansas has strong-armed, former Washington State quarterback and current Mississippi juco standout Peyton Bender in for a visit this weekend. Bender's a potential game-changer for a KU offense that has been stuck in the mud so long I'm starting to wonder if it's actually quicksand. I like KU's chances of landing him, but if not, Rourke is definitely worth a long, hard look. Running for his life, he still managed to throw for 2,367 yards and 18 touchdown passes (13 interceptions).

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Kansas needs QB Carter Stanley to take next step in second start

Kansas freshman quarterback Carter Stanley fires a pass during Saturday's game against Iowa State on Nov. 12, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. It was the first start of Stanley's career.

Kansas freshman quarterback Carter Stanley fires a pass during Saturday's game against Iowa State on Nov. 12, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. It was the first start of Stanley's career. by Mike Yoder

David Beaty has seen redshirt freshman Carter Stanley manage a game. Now the Kansas football coach wants his starting quarterback to take the next step this week, in his second career start.

In completing 26 of 38 throws for 171 yards and a touchdown against Iowa State this past weekend, Stanley did enough for Beaty to consider it a “solid” debut for the Jayhawks’ new No. 1 QB.

While Stanley rarely made mistakes that cost KU (1-9 overall, 0-7 Big 12) dearly, Beaty pointed to a couple of instances in which a better read and reaction could’ve improved the team’s chances of pulling off the program’s first Big 12 victory in two years.

“There's a couple plays that I know that he would want back and we'd want back,” Beaty said. “We had one trick play where we had Zuni (senior blocking back Michael Zunica) going down the seam. We had him in a hidden formation. Man, that would’ve been a big play right there, because that would have extended the lead quite a bit, and we left it short. I know he would want that one back.”

And although Stanley only suffered one sack against the Cyclones in a 31-24 loss, it came on third-and-10 late in the first half, with KU leading 14-10 and operating just outside of the red zone. Losing that yardage in that situation meant kicker Matt Wyman had a slightly more difficult field goal, and he missed from 46 yards out with 1:20 left in the second quarter.

“So those yards all make a difference,” Beaty said.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) heaves a pass out of the end zone during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) heaves a pass out of the end zone during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Still, it was hard to ignore how Stanley infused some life into the KU offense. The Jayhawks’ 24 points were the most they’ve scored during their current nine-game losing streak. Seven of KU’s 11 drives finished in ISU territory. Even Beaty admitted his offense had not consistently put the team in position to score over the past several weeks.

“I thought our guys really responded to him, which was something that I really enjoyed seeing,” Beaty added. “He played pretty sound football.”

Of course, Stanley’s most significant error came in the final minutes, when he threw his lone interception after his target, Steven Sims Jr., got pushed out of bounds.

“But as far as understanding his reads and his eyes being in the right place,” Beaty said of Stanley, “he really did not put the ball in jeopardy, with the exception of the last play.”

Thirteen of Stanley’s 26 completions went for five yards or fewer, 10 were for 6-10 yards and just three gained 11 or more. Beaty liked what the young QB from Vero Beach, Fla., did with his short and mid-range throws.

“There was a couple I thought he could have done a little better with. But for the most part, he actually executed exactly like we wanted him to,” Beaty said. “We would like to have hit a little more on those deeper balls, but it's not necessarily a tradeoff. We're going to try to play the whole system.”

Stanley enters his start against Texas (5-5, 3-4) — 2:30 p.m. kickoff, ABC — with a better completion percentage (68.6%) than either of KU’s previous two starting QBs this season, junior Montell Cozart (58.6%) and sophomore Ryan Willis (61.5%). Stanley has completed 48 of 70 throws for 437 yards and four touchdowns, with three interceptions.

Beaty thinks now that Stanley has his first start out of the way, the 6-foot-2, right-handed quarterback will have an opportunity to grow more comfortable, recognize more opportunities and improve upon what he showed against ISU.

“As you start and play more games, that starts to become innate about you as a quarterback,” Beaty said. “That was my only fear for him going into the game. But you don't control it, because he doesn't have that experience until he gets in there and does it. But for his first complete game, I thought he played solid. He certainly put us in a position to be able to win the game. He didn't do anything to lose the game for us.”

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Frank Mason’s game winner vs. Duke, up close and personal

If you're like most Kansas basketball fans today, you just cannot get enough of last night's victory over No. 1 Duke.

Whether that means you've been surfing the web to read as much as you can about the 77-75 victory — thanks, by the way! — or you've been on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and anywhere else you can think of to view imagines of Frank Mason's thrilling game-winning shot, the aftermath of that moment or any other images of the game, your day likely has included you smiling a little bigger, puffing your chest out a little farther and perhaps even reaching out to those Duke fans you know (and sometimes even love) to tell them "good game" or some other version of that thought.

But if you still haven't got enough of the shot — and what a great, clutch shot it was — take a look at this video, filmed at courtside, of the final moments of Tuesday's game and Mason's terrific game winner.

It's no doubt the biggest shot of Mason's career to date and it came on the biggest and brightest stage college basketball possibly can have in mid-November.

One of the great things about Mason being the one who hit the shot is that the Jayhawks run absolutely no risk of the moment going to his head. Mason on Friday in the home opener against Siena is going to be the same player he was on Monday morning, Tuesday at halftime or when Duke hit the three-pointer to tie the game — an ultra-competitive, fighter who is willing to do anything necessary to help his team win.

If that means he takes the shot, he'll take it. If that means passing the ball, playing D or finding a way to make a big steal, you can bet Mason is going to do whatever he can to get the job done. It doesn't mean he's always going to succeed, but few Jayhawks in recent memory have been as willing to get dirty and lay it on the line like Mason and that's what makes Tuesday's game winner such a big deal. Because of it, Mason is finally getting his due on the national scene.

Enough about all of that, though, let's get you to the awesome video of the big shot.

Special props to those of you who watch it enough times to catch a few glimpses of KUsports.com photographer Nick Krug right there in the thick of the celebration.

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College basketball Twitterverse reacts to KU win — and a Blue Devil loses a bet

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is hoisted up by teammate Josh Jackson as he is congratulated by center Udoka Azubuike and forward Dwight Coleby after Mason hit the game-winning shot to beat Duke 77-75 during the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is hoisted up by teammate Josh Jackson as he is congratulated by center Udoka Azubuike and forward Dwight Coleby after Mason hit the game-winning shot to beat Duke 77-75 during the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

When a team such as Duke squares off with a team the likes of Kansas, the entire college basketball universe tunes in to see what happens.

Such was the case Tuesday night, when Bill Self’s No. 7-ranked Jayhawks battled Mike Krzyzewski’s No. 1 Blue Devils at the Champions Classic, inside Madison Square Garden.

KU’s victory over Duke, as you’d expect, set off a flurry of reaction all over social media — particularly from those with Kansas ties, after they watched Frank Mason hit a clutch, game-winning jumper.

From former Mason teammates singing his praises, to a former Duke star losing a bet, to media and analysts weighing in on the significance of the Kansas win, there was plenty to digest on Twitter.

Below are some of the many social media highlights that accompanied the memorable regular-season classic.

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By the Numbers: Kansas 77, Duke 75

By the Numbers: Kansas 77, Duke 75

— See what people were saying about KU's matchup against Duke during KUsports.com’s live coverage.


More news and notes from the win against Duke


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Devonte Graham credits coach Bill Self’s fiery halftime for turning tide vs. Duke

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets in for a bucket past Duke forward Amile Jefferson (21) during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets in for a bucket past Duke forward Amile Jefferson (21) during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

Kansas opened the second half of Tuesday night's 77-75 victory against top-ranked Duke by going on a 17-5 tear. Junior guard Devonte Graham did not think the timing of the team's best stretch of the night was a coincidence. He sent credit the way of the coach.

"The halftime speech," Graham said of Kansas coming out of the locker room in such energetic fashion. "Coach was a little upset with us."

When an athlete shares that his coach was "a little upset," what he usually means is the coach was livid and didn't hold back.

"(We were) taking contested threes and we weren't making them," Graham said. "I think we were 1 of 12 at halftime, so he just got on us about our speed and quickness, (and said) just to get in the lane."

Self has a way of pumping up players' confidence when yelling at them by stressing what they do so well and blasting them for not doing it.

"He tells us nobody can guard us and stay in front of us," Graham said. "They have to put their hands on us or foul us. Either we're going to get in the lane and score or get fouled or drop off to a big man, so he got after us about driving the ball."

And after he did, the Jayhawks' perimeter players relentlessly drove to the hoop and turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 12-point lead with 8:03 remaining.

Self really does know how to get his players to respond to him, a gift partially responsible for Kansas defeating the No. 1 team in the nation, despite shooting .118 on three-pointers and .474 from the line.


By the Numbers: Kansas 77, Duke 75

By the Numbers: Kansas 77, Duke 75

— See what people were saying about KU's matchup against Duke during KUsports.com’s live coverage.


More news and notes from the win against Duke


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A look at why Duke is favored tonight against Kansas

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) shushes the crowd after hitting a three during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) shushes the crowd after hitting a three during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. by Nick Krug

Kansas made it to the Elite Eight in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, where eventual national-champion Villanova bounced the Jayhawks in a close game.

Duke exited the tournament in the Sweet 16 in a 14-point loss to Oregon.

Kansas has added the No. 1 recruit in the nation, according to Rivals rankings, and Duke's three highest-rated recruits, Nos. 2, 3 and 11, are expected to be sidelined tonight because of injuries.

Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden were not selected in the NBA draft. Duke's Brandon Ingram was the second overall selection.

So why is Duke favored by 2.5 points? Good question and one that is not without legitimate answers.

The experience factor — Duke has 7,779 minutes of Div. I play in its rotation, Kansas 7,449 — is virtually equal.

As for hot-shot recruits, Josh Jackson will start for Kansas and Harry Giles (knee), Jayson Tatum (foot) and Marques Bolden (lower leg) are sidelined. Even though he was ranked fourth among Duke's recruits, guard Frank Jackson was ranked 12th in the nation and is off to a great start (19.5 points per game) as sixth man.

Another key factor in why Duke is better than when it was bounced from the tourney: Post player Amile Jefferson, limited to nine games by injury last season, is back, giving Duke 4 of 5 double-figures scorers back from last season, compared to 2 of 4 for Kansas (Frank Mason and Devonte Graham), which lost its top two scorers, Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden.

Duke's current starting five combined last season for 57.1 points per game, led by leading national player of the year candidate Grayson Allen's 21.6 scoring average. The four returning players in KU's starting five last season averaged 39.2 points.

All of those numbers speak only to scoring. Kansas will need to play its signature tough man-to-man defense to make Duke take contested, hurried shots. It's a lot to ask this early in the season, but it can be done.

That's one key. The other is that someone other than Allen will need to be the best player in the game tonight, the way Graham was the best player in the game last February in Norman.

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Ke’aun Kinner finishing career in style

Kansas running back Ke'aun Kinner (22) evades Oklahoma State linebacker Devante Averette (40) during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Ke'aun Kinner (22) evades Oklahoma State linebacker Devante Averette (40) during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Senior running back Ke’aun Kinner is having a terrific senior year.

Kinner has had two huge games, rushing for 145 yards on 14 carries vs. Oklahoma State and 152 yards on 18 carries Saturday against Iowa State.

He’s averaging 5.8 yards per carry, up from 4.2 last season, and already has surpassed last season’s 566 rushing yards with 644, even though he has 23 fewer carries than in 2015. His season rushing total is the highest by a Kansas running back since James Sims rushed for 1,110 yards in 2013.

Kinner would need to rush for an average of 178 yards in his final two games to reach the 1,000-yard milestone. That's an impossibility, as good as he looked Saturday, but not likely either.

KU head coach David Beaty sounded as if he’l be looking to call Kinner’s name more often, provided he recovers sufficiently from a rib injury that limited him in the fourth quarter.

KU’s increased use of Michael Zunica as a blocking has brought out the best in Kinner and improving Taylor Martin, the fastest player on the roster.

Khalil Herbert, sidelined by a toe injury, is a good-looking back as well.

Barring a shocker against either Texas in Lawrence or Kansas State in Manhattan, Kinner will end his KU career with a 1-23 record, not at all an accurate reflection of the sort of career he's had for the Jayhawks.

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Gary Woodland second-round leader of OHL Classic

Former University of Kansas golfer Gary Woodland is the leader in the clubhouse after firing a 65 in Friday's second round of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, to move to 13-under par.

Webb Simpson shot 65-65 to head into the third round in second place, one stroke behind Woodland.

Golf Channel announcers playing up Woodland's recent putting session with instructor Butch Harmon in Las Vegas seems to working for him.

Woodland tees off Saturday at 11:10 a.m. with Simpson and Scott Piercy, who is two strokes off the pace at 11-under.

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