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Entries from blogs tagged with “Kansas”

Jayhawks in the Playoffs guide

Congratulations. You survived the 82-game NBA regular season.

Well, even if you didn't, personally, six former Kansas University basketball players did. (Actually, if you want to get technical about it, one of those KU products was a free agent until February. But, hey, now he's in the playoffs.)

It's all right if you weren't checking the box scores every day or watching game highlights every morning on YouTube. Even if you paid absolutely no attention to the NBA from the last week of October to right now, it shouldn't be too difficult to get caught up with the playoff-bound former Jayhawks in our guide to the postseason.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 2 Miami vs. No. 7 Charlotte

Mario Chalmers

Season stats: 9.8 points | 2.9 rebounds | 4.9 assists | 45.4% FGs | 38.5% 3-pointers

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) drives on Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker during the first quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo.

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) drives on Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker during the first quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo.

You might want to sit down for this. As hard as it is to believe, the following statement is true. The two-time defending champion Miami Heat — you know, the team that has LeBron James — swept the Charlotte Bobcats in the regular season. Shocking, I know.

Interestingly enough, though, Miami only beat Charlotte by a point back on Dec. 1. Mario Chalmers scored 12 points and dished six assists in that one, and he averaged 8.3 points, 6.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 block against the Bobcats in the three games he played against them this season.

Chalmers only made 37.5% of his shots — almost a full eight points below his season field goal percentage of 45.5% — against Charlotte. But he found other ways to disrupt the Bobcats' defense.

As the good folks at stats.nba.com broke it down for us, Chalmers asserted himself on offense, looking to drive almost any time Charlotte's Kemba Walker tried to guard him: 13 drives in nearly 16 minutes of matching up with Walker. The former KU star drove past Ramon Sessions a few times, too — four drives in 5:16.

Of course, Chalmers is known more for his defense, and Walker (three drives in 12:06) and Sessions (one drive in 5:07) didn't have nearly as much success attacking him off the bounce.

This series, which figures to be a short one, begins Sunday at Miami.

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No. 3 Toronto vs. No. 6 Brooklyn

Paul Pierce

Season stats: 13.5 points | 4.6 rebounds | 2.4 assists | 45.1% FGs | 37.3% 3-pointers

Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) defends Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) in the first half of their NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) defends Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) in the first half of their NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The NBA Playoffs are nothing new for Paul Pierce, who has played in 136 games in 10 postseason appearances.

Pierce, who averages 20.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his postseason career, helped Boston qualify for the playoffs each of the previous six seasons — including a 26-game run to an NBA championship in 2008, when he was named NBA Finals MVP.

This spring, in his 16th NBA season, he'll try to bring that experience to a Brooklyn team that underperformed in November and December, but went 34-17 from January on.

Pierce played well against the Raptors this season, as the Nets split the season series, 2-2. The veteran small forward averaged 19.8 points a game against Toronto — more than he did against any team in the league except Miami (21.3 ppg). Toronto didn't have an answer for "The Truth," who made 56.1% of his shots in four meetings, while adding 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals.

He scored his season-high, 33 points, against the Raptors in a one-point Nets home loss on Jan. 27.

Defensively, don't be surprised if Nets coach Jason Kidd opts to use Pierce's size to defend Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry occasionally. In limited time defending Lowry, Pierce held him to 2-of-7 shooting, while Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston had issues bottling up Lowry, Toronto's second-leading scorer (17.9 points a game).

This first-round series, which could go the full seven games, begins early Saturday afternoon.

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No. 4 Chicago vs. No. 5 Washington

Kirk Hinrich

Season stats: 9.1 points | 2.6 rebounds | 3.9 assists | 39.13% FGs | 35.1% 3-pointers

VS.

Drew Gooden

Season stats: 8.3 points | 5.2 rebounds | 53.1% FGs | 41.2% 3-pointers [22 games]

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) eyes Washington Wizards point guard John Wall during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Washington, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. The Wizards won 96-93. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) eyes Washington Wizards point guard John Wall during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Washington, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. The Wizards won 96-93. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Of the eight first-round playoffs series, this is the only one in which two former Jayhawks will go head-to-head.

Hinrich and Gooden helped lead Kansas to a Final Four in 2002, and now they'll try to knock each other out of the postseason as role players.

The Bulls and Wizards only faced each other three times this season, and Washington won twice. However, the Wizards' second victory, a three-point win on Jan. 17, came right around the time Chicago began turning into one of the better teams in The Association. The Bulls are 25-12 since February, and beat Washington, 96-78, in D.C. just two weeks ago.

Hinrich, seen above flashing some wizardry of his own, averaged 12.3 points, 6.0 assists and 3.3 rebounds against Washington this season.

He'll spend a lot of this series matched up with one of the most entertaining and athletic young guards in the league, John Wall.

The 11th-year KU product held his own against Wall this season. Hinrich made 54% of his shots when guarded by Wall, while the budding D.C. superstar only converted 35% of his attempts against Hinrich.

Washington Wizards' Drew Gooden (90) dunks as Charlotte Bobcats' Kemba Walker (15) and Al Jefferson (25) watch during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, March 31, 2014. The Bobcats won 100-94. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Washington Wizards' Drew Gooden (90) dunks as Charlotte Bobcats' Kemba Walker (15) and Al Jefferson (25) watch during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, March 31, 2014. The Bobcats won 100-94. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Gooden could be the ultimate X-factor in this series. Because Washington picked him up as a free agent late in the season, the bearded power forward only played against Chicago once.

Earlier this month, the backup big man scored four points on 2-for-5 shooting and grabbed four rebounds in 22 minutes in Washington's home loss to the Bulls.

However, that's the only time in eight April games in which Gooden played more than 20 minutes. In fact, Washington coach Randy Wittman didn't play Gooden at all in two of the past four games.

By no coincidence, that drop-off in playing time coincided with the return of power forward Nene to D.C.'s lineup. But if Wittman wants to throw Chicago a curve ball, Gooden would gladly oblige and provide points and boards off the bench.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 2 Oklahoma City vs. No. 7 Memphis

Nick Collison

Season stats: 4.2 points | 3.6 rebounds | 1.3 assists | 55.6% FGs | 16.7 minutes

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) goes to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies forward Ed Davis (32) and center Marc Gasol (33), of Spain, in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) goes to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies forward Ed Davis (32) and center Marc Gasol (33), of Spain, in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)

The Thunder won the season series with Memphis, 3-1, but backup power forward Nick Collison didn't have a lot to do with OKC's success.

Limited to 15.3 minutes a game versus the Grizzlies, Collison hit 43% of his shots and only scored 2.5 points a game, but chipped in with 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 block.

Still, expect Collison to contribute off the bench. In-depth statistics show he is one member of the Thunder's front court who is able to limit hefty Zach Randolph's productivity on the offensive glass.

The series begins Saturday night at Oklahoma City.

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No. 4 Houston vs. No. 7 Portland

Thomas Robinson

Season stats: 4.8 points | 4.4 rebounds | 48.1% FGs | 12.5 minutes

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) drives to the basket past Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard (12) and Jeremy Lin (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Bob Levey)

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) drives to the basket past Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard (12) and Jeremy Lin (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Bob Levey)

Houston beat Portland three out of four times in the regular season, but you couldn't blame Thomas Robinson for the Trail Blazers' struggles.

The second-year power forward barely got on the floor against his former team this season. A Portland reserve, Robinson averaged single-digit minutes against six teams this season, and Houston was one of them. The athletic 6-10 backup logged just 9.5 minutes versus the Rockets, scoring 2.3 points on 2-for-8 total shooting, while averaging 2.5 rebounds in limited action.

The two teams haven't met since March 9, and Robinson's minutes have been right at 14.3 a game in March and April, so he very well could play a bigger role in the playoffs after going scoreless in 11 minutes in a 118-113 Portland loss at Houston more than five weeks ago.

But that will be up to Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, and will be based upon how he thinks Robinson matches up with Rockets big men Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones and Omer Asik.

Even if Stotts tightens his rotation for the postseason, Robinson should be a part of the game plan off the bench.

A highly anticipated series, this one begins Sunday night in Houston.

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Tweetworthy

Noteworthy tweets about and from the 'Hawks in the NBA:

None by thomas robinson

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None by Xavier Henry

None by NESN

None by Marcus Morris

None by Marcus Morris

None by Drew Gooden

None by Ben McLemore

Last game as a rook. Special thanks to all the fans in Sactown. Appreciate how good y'all been to me. #youngking #finishstrong #comebackstonger #sactown

Last game as a rook. Special thanks to all the fans in Sactown. Appreciate how good y'all been to me. #youngking #finishstrong #comebackstonger #sactown by youngsav23


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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No playoffs for Morris twins

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris sits in the locker room after an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Phoenix. The Grizzlies won 97-91 eliminating the Suns from the playoffs. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris sits in the locker room after an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Phoenix. The Grizzlies won 97-91 eliminating the Suns from the playoffs. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix needed to beat Memphis Monday night in step No. 1 of its last chance at the NBA Playoffs.

The next couple steps never came into play for the Suns, who bring twins Markieff and Marcus Morris off their bench, because the Grizzlies won in Phoenix, 97-91, to snag the eighth and final available playoff berth in the Western Conference.

Difficult as it may have been for Markieff to deal with the reality of the Suns' fate, the 6-foot-10 power forward gave his up-and-coming team a legitimate chance, leading Phoenix with 21 points off the bench.

As Paul Coro wrote for AZcentral.com, Markieff hit seven of eight shots in one eight-minute stretch of the second half. He finished 10-for-16 from the floor with three blocks and two rebounds in 28 minutes.

Markieff hit a couple of long jumpers in the fourth quarter, and threw down a dunk, but missed a three-pointer with 20 seconds left that would have cut a 95-91 Memphis lead to one.

Coro discusses what comes next for Markieff and Marcus in a video for AZcentral.com. The twins both are eligible for contract extensions this summer. They could easily play out the 2014-15 season without re-signing, though, and enter free agency in 2015.


Markieff makes his case for sixth man award

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris dunks during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, April 11, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris dunks during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, April 11, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Markieff's value to Phoenix can't be underestimated. He's averaging 13.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and hitting 48.6% from the floor with one game left in the regular season.

He recently was asked by AZcentral.com to explain what makes him a top candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.

"Coming off the bench with energy, scoring, rebounding, making my teammates better and winning games, especially when we were supposed to win 17… You knew the Clippers (Jamal Crawford reference) were going to be good. You knew the Bulls (Taj Gibson reference) were going to be good, with or without D (Derrick) Rose. Y'all thought we were going after a Number 1 pick. I think I deserve Sixth Man Award for the team success."

Markieff went on to say the award would have meant more had Phoenix been a playoff team.

For what it's worth Grantland's Zach Lowe voted Markieff third for Sixth Man of the Year, behind Gibson and San Antonio's Manu Ginobili. Lowe also pegged Markieff as the third-best candidate for Most Improved Player, behind his Phoenix teammate Goran Dragic and Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins.

As Lowe points out, Morris has become an efficient offensive threat in his third season in the league:

He’s up to 50 percent on 2s this season, with a refined post-up game. Morris can shoot over guys with a soft touch, but if he thinks he can do better, he’ll face up, put the ball on the floor, and attack the rim.

We know who would receive Marcus' vote for the sixth man award.

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Collison ejected

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison, left, and New Orleans Pelicans guard Austin Rivers, third right, get into a scuffle in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 14, 2014. Both were ejected from the game. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison, left, and New Orleans Pelicans guard Austin Rivers, third right, get into a scuffle in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 14, 2014. Both were ejected from the game. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Maybe the end of the regular season has some players feeling testy. Maybe college blue bloods don't like each other.

For the second time in less than a week, a former KU player and a former Duke player got into a scuffle on the NBA hardwood. Over the weekend, it was Ben McLemore and J.J. Redick.

Monday night, it was Nick Collison and Austin Rivers.

The veteran power forward from KU and the fiery young guard out of Duke bumped into each other a few times before it turned into a skirmish and both were ejected in the second quarter of what turned out to be a New Orleans victory.

Collison went scoreless in eight minutes of action, and NewsOK.com's Darnell Mayberry reported the 10th-year veteran picked up the first ejection of his career.


Tweetworthy

Noteworthy tweets about and from the 'Hawks in the NBA:

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'Hawks in the NBA standings

It's finally the last day of the 82-game marathon that is the regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand, with the playoffs starting up this weekend.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

PLAYOFF TEAMS

Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (58-23)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Northwest Division champs

Mario Chalmers/Miami (54-27)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in East

  • Southeast Division champs

Thomas Robinson/Portland (53-28)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (48-33)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (44-37)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

Drew Gooden/Washington (43-38)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFFS

Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (47-34)

Darrell Arthur/Denver (36-45)

Cole Aldrich/New York (36-45)

Jeff Withey/New Orleans (33-48)

Ben McLemore/Sacramento (28-53)

Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (26-55)

Brandon Rush/Utah (24-57)


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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Paul Pierce joins elite company, with 25,000 career points

Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce (34) reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Friday, April 11, 2014, in New York. Atlanta won 93-88. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce (34) reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Friday, April 11, 2014, in New York. Atlanta won 93-88. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Ever since Paul Pierce left Kansas University a year early for the NBA in 1998, he has made a living putting up points.

On Friday, the 16-year veteran who earned his reputation with Boston reached an all-time milestone in his first season with Brooklyn.

Only one of Pierce's seven three-pointers connected in a home loss to Atlanta, but the one he hit in the second quarter carried far more significance than a typical regular-season, first-half trey.

This particular long-range bomb pushed Pierce to 25,000 career points.

The NBA compiled all of "The Truth's" landmark points — from 5,000 to 25,000 — in a video that kicks off with a young, headband-less Pierce putting in his first NBA bucket against Toronto in 1999.

Justin Tasch of the New York Daily News reported Pierce's 5-for-14 night and 2-for-6 showing at the free throw line had a lot to do with him thinking too much about the milestone, as his family and friends kept bringing it up beforehand.

“I was the same way when I reached the 20,000-point mark. I remember I couldn’t hit a shot in the first quarter because I was pressing just to get it. I’m just glad it’s over with and now I can focus on the rest of the season.”

The NBA Twitterverse tipped its collective cap to Pierce following the accomplishment.

None by Brooklyn Nets

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None by ESPN Stats & Info

None by Rod Boone

Pierce became just the 18th NBA player in history to eclipse 25,000 points. The names ahead of him on the list are pretty incredible, and include such former superstars as Jerry West (17th), John Havlicek (13th), Oscar Robertson (11th), Shaquille O'Neal (6th), Wilt Chamberlain (5th), Michael Jordan (3rd), Karl Malone (2nd) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st, 38,387).

Pierce left Brooklyn's next game, Sunday against Orlando, clutching his right shoulder, but Nets coach Jason Kidd said he could've returned to play if needed.


No more Mr. Nice McLemore?

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore is ejected after being called for a technical foul on Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick, as Clippers' Jamal Crawford, rear left, looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, April 12, 2014. The Clippers won 117-101. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore is ejected after being called for a technical foul on Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick, as Clippers' Jamal Crawford, rear left, looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, April 12, 2014. The Clippers won 117-101. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

If you heard a former Jayhawk earned an ejection after shoving an opponent who was defending him, who would you bet on as the culprit?

One of the Morris twins? Thomas Robinson? Mario Chalmers? Pierce?

Well, it happened on Saturday, and the answer was none of the above.

The typically smiling face of Sacramento rookie Ben McLemore showed a scowl in Los Angeles when he didn't like the way the Clippers' J.J. Redick defended him coming off a screen.

McLemore earned a technical foul for losing his temper, and it was actually his second of the game, so he was tossed after scoring 14 points in 32 minutes.

Prior to Saturday, McLemore hadn't even been whistled for a "T," let alone been ejected from a game.

It turns out Sacramento wasn't too pleased with the technicals. And the organization's frustrations weren't directed at its rookie shooting guard. McLemore's superiors thought both technicals were undeserved. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reported the Kings are appealing the "T's" with the league office.

In fact, coach Michael Malone said the Kings couldn't believe one of their quietest players earned an ejection.

“That’s not who Ben is, and that wasn’t his intent.”


'Hawks in the NBA standings

Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis (11) drives to the basket between Phoenix Suns forwards Markieff Morris (11) and Channing Frye (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Dallas. The Mavericks won 101-98. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis (11) drives to the basket between Phoenix Suns forwards Markieff Morris (11) and Channing Frye (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Dallas. The Mavericks won 101-98. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Phoenix — home of former Kansas standouts Markieff and Marcus Morris — entered Friday in the No. 7 slot in the Western Conference playoff race, as one of four teams jockeying for the final three available postseason spots.

But back-to-back losses at San Antonio and Dallas (the Mavericks were one of the four teams vying for the last available playoff spots) has Phoenix in a bit of a predicament with just two games left in the regular season.

Golden State and Dallas now have secured their tickets to the postseason, leaving the Suns (47-33) and Memphis (48-32) as the last two fighting for the final spot.

Phoenix hosts the Grizzlies Monday night, but a head-to-head victory alone won't assure the Suns of anything — as detailed by Paul Coro for azcentral.com.

Phoenix must beat Memphis and win at Sacramento in the regular-season finale Wednesday. Plus, the Grizzlies must lose at Dallas on Wednesday. That's the only scenario in which the Suns, whom no one expected to be in this position before the season, will advance to the playoffs.

Said Markieff:

"The season isn't over yet. We don't have any choice but to keep hope."

This is subject to change, with three days worth of games to be played, but here's what the matchups would look like if the playoffs began today, instead of this weekend.

None by NBA.com

Only three days remain in the 82-game marathon that is the regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand in the hunt for the playoffs.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

No. 1 — Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (58-22)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched Northwest Division title/playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (54-26)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (53-28)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 4 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (47-33)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 5 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (47-33)

  • Currently No. 9 in West, one game back of Memphis

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (44-36)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (42-38)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (36-44)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Cole Aldrich/New York (35-45)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in East

No. 10 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-48)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (28-53)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-55)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (24-56)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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Jeff Withey finishing rookie season strong

New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey (5) tries to get around Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey (5) tries to get around Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Let's face it. Jeff Withey's transition to the NBA has had its down moments in his rookie season.

But as his first-year campaign reaches its final week, it appears the lean 7-foot center out of Kansas might be finding his way in New Orleans. While Withey's season averages of 3.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.9 minutes a game are about as exciting as a Utah vs. Milwaukee game, he has proven of late he can produce when given the opportunity.

In the rookie's last five games, he has played 20.5 minutes and averaged 9.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while hitting 78% of his shots. Seventy-eight!

Earlier this week, Darrell Williams wrote about how Withey's growth has pleased the Pelicans. The team's coach, Monty Williams, told the New Orleans Advocate Withey has helped offset some of the Pelicans' injury problems of late.

“Jeff has come a long way this season. He looks nothing like the guy we saw in training camp. He has worked hard. His body looks different, and he has made progress on the court working with (assistant coach) Kevin (Hanson).”

After developing into a hard-nosed defender of the rim at KU, Withey had to acclimate himself to playing in the paint in the NBA, where things can get rough.

“You don’t have to be big to be physical. Some of it definitely is that the game has slowed down for me now. I understand things a lot better.”

With New Orleans star Anthony Davis sitting out Wednesday due to back spasms, Withey tried to carry the team himself in a 94-88 Pelicans loss to Phoenix. Withey scored 17 points — a career high — and added a couple of rebounds, three assists and a block.

The backup center and his bench mates helped get New Orleans back in the game, John Reid wrote for The Times-Picayune. The rookie big man out of Kansas had this to say:

"We try to bring a spark to our team when its needed. We definitely played pretty well tonight.''

(Watch Withey's locker room interview at NOLA.com.)

New Orleans lost its sixth game in a row, but it was definitely Withey's night. If the numbers and highlights don't prove that, this GIF should.


Paul Pierce on verge of 25K points

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce is shown during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, April 8, 2014 in Miami. The Nets defeated the Heat 88-87. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce is shown during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, April 8, 2014 in Miami. The Nets defeated the Heat 88-87. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

After scoring 14 points to help Brooklyn complete a four-game season sweep of two-time defending champion Miami earlier this week, the man known as "The Truth" appeared in no hurry to reach a significant milestone.

Pierce sat out the Nets' loss at Orlando Wednesday due to a right hip pointer injury, even though he currently needs just five points to reach 25,000 for his career.

As Rod Boone of Newsday reported, the only active players who have put up that many points are Pierce's Brooklyn teammate Kevin Garnett, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki.

As Pierce closes in on the elite mark — only 17 players in the history of the NBA have scored 25,000 career points — it's probably safe to assume the former KU All-American is on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Players such as Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Adrian Dantley and Larry Bird never reached 25K — as pointed out in a SportsNetwork.com column.

Pierce could reach the landmark number as soon as Friday night against Atlanta. If not then, the Nets have three more regular-season dates in the coming week.

Brooklyn, which began the season looking woeful but now has a playoff spot in the East locked up, could be the final stop in Pierce's illustrious career. Speculation already has begun that he will re-sign with the Nets.


Thomas Robinson, teammates try to keep straight faces

Second-year power forward Thomas Robinson has made his share of incredible plays this season for Portland.

But there might be a new champion in the category of most remarkable YouTube clip starring the man known in Lawrence as T-Rob.

The 6-foot-10, powerful sub and a few of his teammates appeared on an episode of the IFC series Portlandia.

The show's stars, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, play a pair of feminist dance team coaches who try to give the Trail Blazers a pep talk after a loss.

In other words: This is amazing.

Robinson got to roll his eyes, shake his head and deliver a few of straight-faced lines. Not bad for an acting debut. (For a professional athlete.)


'Hawks in the NBA standings

Only six days remain in the 82-game marathon that is the regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand in the hunt for the playoffs.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

No. 1 — Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (57-21)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched Northwest Division title/playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (53-25)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (51-28)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (47-31)

  • Currently No. 7 seed in West

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (46-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (43-35)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (40-38)

  • Currently No. 7 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (35-44)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Cole Aldrich/New York (33-45)

  • Currently No. 9 in East, two games behind Atlanta

No. 10 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-46)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (27-52)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-53)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (24-54)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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Charlie Weis previews KU football spring game

The countdown to Kansas University's spring football game is down to four days now.

Coach Charlie Weis addressed the annual showcase and other topics Tuesday morning with the media.

Here are some of the highlights from the Q & A session, in bullet-point form:

• The format for the spring game will be four 15-minute quarters, with a running clock, except for last two minutes of each half. KU has enough players to split the roster into two different teams and not just do offense vs. defense. Unless a rash of injuries breaks out, they will be able to do two different teams.

• Weis has a rule for the spring game that should make for an exciting second half, instead of players just going through the motions. He won't unveil the rule until Saturday, but it is all planned out.

Kansas kickoff return man JaCorey Shepherd takes off on a return against Oklahoma State during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas kickoff return man JaCorey Shepherd takes off on a return against Oklahoma State during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

• At a couple of positions, there are two players considered first-string options: left tackle and nickelback. Senior lineman Pat Lewandowski and senior defensive back JaCorey Shepherd will be on the Blue team in the first half, while senior lineman Zach Fondal and sophomore defensive back Greg Allen will play on the White team. At halftime, those players will swap teams, so they will have played with both the first and second units.

• If during the game, due to injury, they have to trade some players, Weis will "set the terms" of the trade.

• Spectators won't see a red jersey on the quarterbacks on Saturday. Only one player will have a red (no contact) jersey on, and that will be senior receiver Tony Pierson. The quarterbacks will be "live" on each play. Weis has never done that before. When the QB keeps the ball, you never know how many yards they would have gained on a run when they are wearing red and the defense can't tackle them. The QBs have been hit, sacked plenty of times this spring. The goal is for them not to get hit. … Pierson has been hit, too. The coaches went over the pros and cons, but they determined Pierson has had such a good offseason the last thing they want is for him to get injured on the last day of spring football.

• Weis told offensive coordinator John Reagan not to hold back any plays he wants to run during the spring game. This isn't like planning for a game, when you're preparing for an opposing team with certain plays. The whole playbook is available.

• Kansas has more talent and more speed right now than it has had in the past two seasons under Weis. Wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau told Weis Tuesday morning that KU's starting three wide receivers — Pierson, senior Nick Harwell and junior Rodriguez Coleman — all would have been on the two-deep last season at Washington (Kiesau's previous employer). That shows KU has made some serious improvements at that position alone.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson shakes Texas Tech defensive back Bruce Jones during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson shakes Texas Tech defensive back Bruce Jones during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

• Pierson was nursing some tightness in his hamstring at practice Saturday, which was open to the media. He wasn't going as hard as he has been able to. … Pierson is working at both kickoff and punt returning. Returning punts isn't easy. "You have to be a little bit of a psycho" to take that job and do it well.

• Harwell is working at both return spots, too, as is junior defensive back Kevin Short. "We have some interesting candidates." You don't want to lose a valuable player in the return game, but if that guy can help change the game, they want to have him out there.

• Weis will make "common sense" contributions when talking offense with Reagan. It's been interesting this spring for Weis to see so much more of the team now that he's not running the offense. It's been good. It gives Weis the opportunity to challenge the staff and make everybody better.

• When Weis arrived and got rid of so many players from previous coach Turner Gill's team, he was taking a bad team and making it worse. He did it for the right reason, but he didn't factor in how limited a roster KU would be left with. Now the roster is pretty full. The infrastructure has been rebuilt and now KU has a predominantly junior and senior team. Usually those are the teams that win. … When they got rid of so many guys, they had to fill holes with junior college players. They couldn't count on freshmen to fill the gap.

• Looking at the WR spot, KU will lose four players after this season. Realistically, they will have to go half and half recruiting to replace those holes — half high school and half junior college. The same goes for KU's O-line and defensive backs, too

Kansas offensive lineman Damon Martin, left, works with other offensive lineman during drills at a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas offensive lineman Damon Martin, left, works with other offensive lineman during drills at a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

• KU's offensive line has had continuity this spring. The guy who is the strongest is junior Damon Martin, so he's at right tackle with senior Mike Smithburg next to him. The coaches were ready to adapt when they had a bunch of talented guards. Some shuffling got the most talent on the field.

• There are tiers at the QB position, as far as the depth chart is concerned. If they had to play an actual game in two weeks, it would be between senior Jake Heaps and sophomore Montell Cozart. And it wouldn't be a bad thing if they both played because they do different things. The coaches are ready to gear themselves toward who will be the main guy. The longer KU goes without naming a starter at QB, the tougher it will be for the competition to prepare.

• Kansas doesn't want to take senior linebacker Ben Heeney off the field, but he will have to rest at some point. Junior LB Schyler Miles is close to junior Jake Love as far as the depth chart goes, and who will replace Heeney at times.

• At the spring game, Weis would like the fans to have some fun. Come halftime the game will get very interesting. He would like to be in the second half with the players having a little pressure on them to win. Weis also wants the offensive operation to show efficiency. … Several players will get an opportunity to play a lot more snaps than they have at practices this spring. It gives them an opportunity: Let's see what you've got. Of course, they want to come out injury-free, too.

• The biggest accomplishments this spring, defense and offense: With junior defensive lineman Andrew Bolton's play on the end, senior defensive lineman Keon Stowers can play inside. … The defense is now in its second year, and that gave the players an opportunity to turn it loose. Most of the guys are retuning guys. ... On offense, most of it was getting the system installed. The players need to be used to running a no-huddle offense.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart throws as he gets protection from offensive lineman Ngalu Fusimalohi during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart throws as he gets protection from offensive lineman Ngalu Fusimalohi during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. by Nick Krug

• Cozart has completed a high percentage of his passes this spring. The one thing he brings that is unique is his feet. He has a chance to be a really good player.

• Sophomore QB T.J. Millweard, who transferred from UCLA, is the newest member of that QB group and he is coming off his best practice to date. Whether he makes his way up the depth chart this year or next, Weis knows he will keep working to get there. His mental aptitude is there and he has to catch up physically.

• Next week, in the days following spring game, players will hear from the coaching staff about where they stand.

• Kansas has a number of older guys who are experienced. Because of that, they won't pick captains until right before the season begins. It's tough to be a leader when you're not playing, so the guys who end up captains will be front-line players.

• Harwell is a natural leader. Weis is glad they have him. He's a hard worker, the wide receivers follow him and he jumps on everybody. "Thank you, Miami of Ohio."

• Weis does believe that if you have two quarterbacks you don't have one, but that's not the case if you use them in different ways. KU would feature one set of plays with Heaps and another set when Cozart is on the field.

• Weis said to the team last December: It's time. Kansas football has been down for five seasons. The No. 1 thing is these veterans have to get KU back to winning. That's the first major hurdle for the program to get over. Then you shoot for the moon. Players can't worry about the expectation on the street or in the media. They have to set their own bar and can't settle for anything but attaining their goals.

— Listen to the press conference in its entirety by clicking here: Charlie Weis talks spring game, KU football depth

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Markieff Morris a leading candidate for sixth man award

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) reacts to a three pointer against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) reacts to a three pointer against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Don't be surprised in a few weeks if you see the following phrase scroll across the bottom of your television screen or pop up on your social media feeds: Phoenix's Markieff Morris named NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

All season long, the Suns — expected by some to be one of the worst teams in the league — have surprised the rest of the Association. But it didn't take long for it to become abundantly clear their early-season success wasn't a fluke. Now Phoenix (46-31), fresh off a 122-115 home win over Oklahoma City on Sunday night, has a legit shot at claiming one of the final three playoff spots in the highly competitive Western Conference.

And Phoenix, the West's worst team last season, couldn't have made such a turnaround without Morris — averaging 13.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in 26.4 minutes a game off the bench.

Morris hasn't started a single game for the Suns all season. That's because first-year coach Jeff Hornacek can trust him to produce as a sub.

Ben York of Suns.com recently wrote a case could be made for Morris (Markieff, not twin brother Marcus, who also comes off the bench for Phoenix and averages 9.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 22.0 minutes) as the NBA's most valuable reserve.

In his third season, Markieff is having a career year. His best game, York points out, came in January against Cleveland:

Morris tallied 27 points and a season-high 15 rebounds off the bench to become the first player in the NBA since Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets on Nov. 21, 2002 to record at least 27 points and 15 rebounds in a game while coming off the bench.

His line was the first 27/15 by a Suns player since Amar’e Stoudemire on March 28, 2010, and he joins Stoudemire and Shawn Marion as the only Suns since 1998-99 to do so.

Those around the Phoenix organization aren't the only ones thinking Markieff could bring home some hardware, either.

At SheridanHoops.com, holds the at No. 1 spot in the sixth man rankings, followed by Chicago's Taj Gibson, Oklahoma Citys' Reggie Jackson, San Antonio's Manu Ginobili and Dallas' Vince Carter.


Henry's breakout season officially over

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, right, puts up a shot as San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter, left, of Brazil, and guard Patty Mills, of Australia, defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, right, puts up a shot as San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter, left, of Brazil, and guard Patty Mills, of Australia, defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Los Angeles Lakers (25-52) are so awful, there really isn't any reason for them to send hurt or worn down players out on the court.

They are lottery-bound, so the more losses, the better. In a move that should help facilitate as high a draft pick as possible, the Lakers announced Friday they're shutting Xavier Henry down for the remainder of the season.

Wrist and knee injuries suffered this season, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported, will keep Henry sidelined for the final few games of what had been a breakout season (10.0 points in 43 games).

Offseason procedures to help his right knee and left wrist are possible, Henry told Bresnahan.

"My body is going to continually hurt as long as I keep pounding it and pounding it. It's tough to play with."

The L.A. Times reporter also asked Henry about his future with the Lakers, because he will become a free agent in the offseason.

"I hope to be here. I hope they want me, but you never know."

As Shams Charania wrote for RealGM.com, Henry took on the challenge of playing while hurt late in the weeks leading up to L.A.'s move. Henry's decision to do gut it out for a while came in part because of what this season has meant to him.

“I just didn’t get the same opportunity and the same playing time in the past. I hurt myself early in my career … but I didn’t get the same kind of opportunities that I have now and I’m trying to make the most of every one that I get.”

Henry shot 41.7% from the field and 34.6% on 3-pointers this season with Los Angeles.


Mario Chalmers: 'I always wanted to be a Tar Heel'

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) goes up for a shot against New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) goes up for a shot against New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

With a little help from Kansas basketball hero Mario Chalmers, Miami seems on its way to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

In his last eight games, the sixth-year pro has outperformed his season averages, hitting 52% of his shots and producing 14.3 points and 4.0 rebounds, plus 4.0 assists (which is below his season average of 5.0).

Recently, Chalmers sat down for a Q & A with SLAM Magazine's Abe Schwadron. He talked about his upbringing in Alaska and also shared an interesting tidbit regarding his college recruitment:

"I wanted to go to North Carolina. I grew up a fan, my family is from North Carolina and I always wanted to be a Tar Heel. When the time came to make my decision, North Carolina didn’t offer me. So Kansas, I thought, was the best place for me to go out there and shine. I had a couple friends that I got close with during the recruiting visits. They made me feel at home, made me feel like a brother."

Of course, Chalmers capped his third year at Kansas by helping the Jayhawks win the 2008 national championship. He was asked to rank that accomplishment, compared to contributing to back-to-back NBA titles with the Heat.

"It’s up there. I’d say it’s a tie, really. In college, it’s one game, in the NBA, it was five games and then it was seven games. It’s different, but it still ranks the same in my book. Just the process of being there three years, and having to go from one year losing in the first round to losing in the Sweet 16 and then finally to win it. I just remember how much hard work we put in."

You can tell Chalmers doesn't regret his decision to play at KU. Look no further than what he posted on Instagram Monday: "6 years ago on this day we had a major accomplishment. Not only for ourselves and KU but for the entire city of Lawrence , Kansas. This is and will always be apart of me. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS"

6 years ago on this day we had a major accomplishment. Not only for ourselves and KU but for the entire city of Lawrence , Kansas. This is and will always be apart of me. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS

6 years ago on this day we had a major accomplishment. Not only for ourselves and KU but for the entire city of Lawrence , Kansas. This is and will always be apart of me. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS by mchalmers15


'Hawks in the NBA standings

We're now just nine days away from the last day of the 82-game regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand in the hunt for the playoffs.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

No. 1 — Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (55-21)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched Northwest Division title/playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (53-23)

  • Currently No. 1 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (50-28)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (46-31)

  • Currently No. 8 seed in West, with one-game lead on Memphis

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (45-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (42-34)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (40-37)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (33-44)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Cole Aldrich/New York (33-45)

  • Currently No. 9 in East, two games behind Atlanta

No. 10 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-45)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (27-50)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-52)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (24-53)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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Thomas Robinson making his mark in Portland

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) scores against Minnesota Timberwolves' Gorgui Dieng (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. The Trail Blazers won 108-97. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) scores against Minnesota Timberwolves' Gorgui Dieng (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. The Trail Blazers won 108-97. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Drafted by Sacramento, then traded to Houston during his rookie year, second-year power forward Thomas Robinson finally feels at home in the NBA with his third team, the Portland Trail Blazers.

As Robinson told John Wilmes of bleacherreport.com, he has embraced his role as a key reserve, even when his minutes aren't substantial — he's averaging 4.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in 12.4 minutes for Portland (49-27), currently the fifth-best team in a stacked Western Conference.

The former Kansas star enjoys providing a spark off the Blazers' bench.

“Last year, I was trying to make my role, going out of my way to prove something. You want to show everyone you can do something, that you can do can do everything at first.”

“I’m a high-energy player, a defender, and an offensive rebounder. Not a scorer. I love who I am to this team, I wouldn’t change anything.”


Nick Collison, the next WWE superstar

During Oklahoma City's Thursday victory over San Antonio, which ended the Spurs' 19-game winning streak, Thunder power forward Nick Collison, known for his dirty work, added to his reputation as one of the NBA's tough guys.

The Spurs' Jeff Ayers accidentally elbowed Collison in the head late in the third quarter, creating a gash atop Collison's noggin. It looked more like Collison had been walloped with a steel chair in a WWE match.

When the blood began to pour down his face, the NBA twitterverse took a break from the entertaining showdown between two Western Conference powers to marvel at the bloodbath.

None by SB Nation

None by NBA on ESPN

None by Red Cross Oklahoma

As you can see in the video, the contact didn't look nearly as bad as the result.

The gritty backup big man played 13 minutes in the OKC victory, scoring four points, and didn't return to the game after suffering the cut.

The best part of the whole ordeal, Collison told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman, was that even though he needed staples in his head to stop the bleeding, it didn't feel all that bad.

“Really, I’m surprised it was bleeding. It hurt a little bit. It stung. But I saw blood coming down my nose so I knew I had to come out.”

"It was one of those ones that’s awesome because you get a ton of credibility from blood coming down your face. But it really wasn’t that big of a deal.”

After the game, Collison couldn't resist joking about the injury, via Instagram, saying: "I really shouldn't have popped that pimple in the game tonight. Sorry guys."


Kirk Hinrich likes the Windy City

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives against Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Atlanta. The Bulls won 105-92. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives against Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Atlanta. The Bulls won 105-92. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

Kirk Hinrich's two-year deal with Chicago runs out at the end of the season, but it sounds like he would prefer to remain with the Bulls going forward.

Before putting up 17 points and six assists in a Chicago win at Atlanta Wednesday, the 11th-year guard who has spent nine seasons with the Bulls told the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson there was a reason he signed with the franchise two summers ago, instead of taking more money to play in Milwaukee.

“I like it here. Obviously, returning home was a big factor in why I came back. I would like to stay here. But I don’t know what’s in their future plans. Right now, I’m just trying to enjoy it while I’m in it and take what comes later.”

"At this point of your career, you want to be on a team that is a good fit and has a chance to be a winner."

Despite the absence of Derrick Rose most of the season, the Bulls (43-32) currently sit in the No. 4 slot in the Eastern Conference, and could have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.


'Hawks in the NBA standings

We're now less than two weeks away from the end of the regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand in the hunt for the playoffs.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

No. 1 — Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (55-19)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (52-22)

  • Currently No. 1 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (49-27)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (44-31)

  • Currently 9th in West, with the same record as No. 8 Memphis

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (43-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (40-34)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (39-36)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (33-42)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-43)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 10 — Cole Aldrich/New York (33-43)

  • Currently No. 8 seed in East, 0.02 percentage points ahead of Atlanta

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (27-48)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-50)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (23-52)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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Collison’s decade of dirty work makes him indispensable in OKC

All the NBA talk around Lawrence the past few days has centered on Kansas University freshmen and their decisions — Andrew Wiggins is officially entering the draft, and everyone is waiting to hear if Joel Embiid will do the same.

This time next year, we might be debating whether Wiggins or Embiid deserve to win the NBA's Rookie of the Year.

But for now, with the 2013-14 NBA season winding down, we'll check in with a couple of veterans and a current rookie.


Mr. Reliable

Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol fights for a loose ball against Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The Lakers won 114-110. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol fights for a loose ball against Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The Lakers won 114-110. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

When your career averages are 6.6 points and 5.7 rebounds, you have to be doing something right to stick around in the NBA for a decade.

For 10th-year power forward Nick Collison — selected 12th overall by the Seattle Supersonics in the loaded 2003 draft —becoming the ultimate role player enticed the franchise that picked him (Seattle relocated to Oklahoma City and changed its name to the Thunder following the 2007-08 season) to keep him around.

As Darnell Mayberry points out in his profile on Collison for The Oklahoman, the veteran out of Kansas is one of those rare NBA players who have spent the past 10 seasons with the same franchise.

FYI, some of those other names are: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade.

Collison told Mayberry:

“I know it’s really rare for somebody to be able to stick that long. And now, to be successful at the end part of it, too, to build up to being a really good team at the end, that’s how I would want it to go.”

The reliable backup big man averages just 4.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 17.0 minutes a game for OKC (54-19), but general manager Sam Presti calls him a "founding member" of the Thunder, along with superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

“He represents the type of player that we want to ultimately have our organization embody,” Presti told Mayberry.

Between charges, screens, hustle plays, easy second-chance buckets, and defensive stops, you can see why the Thunder have kept Collison around.

And why he has become a fan favorite. Here's what Collison said to Mayberry on that subject:

“I feel like they really appreciate what I do, and I know that’s rare for a player like me. A role player like me who averages four (points) and four (rebounds) or whatever it is, no one really thinks twice about him. But I know that I have kind of a special place here. So I really appreciate that.”

The Thunder currently hold the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and are one of the favorites to win the 2014 NBA title.


Finishing strong

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) shoots between Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher (6) and guard Jeremy Lamb (11) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 28, 2014. Oklahoma City won 94-81. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) shoots between Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher (6) and guard Jeremy Lamb (11) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 28, 2014. Oklahoma City won 94-81. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

It would be a stretch to say Ben McLemore's rookie season in Sacramento has been a complete success.

Even though the Kings have shown their commitment to the young guard, he hasn't separated himself as one of the league's very best first-year players.

Still, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee wrote that the youngster out of Kansas is settling in to his position as the Kings' starting shooting guard.

Sacramento spent the opening months of the season bringing the rookie along slowly, but McLemore told Jones his confidence began to grow after the franchise dealt starter Marcus Thornton, opening a spot in the starting rotation for the former Jayhawk.

“It’s an opportunity for me. Why not take it? That’s what I did, and I just want to keep doing that. I’m not finished. I just want to keep working and finish this season out strong and in the offseason work on my weaknesses.”

The best news for McLemore and Sacramento? He is starting to take his game to another level in the closing weeks of the season.

In his previous 10 games, the rook with huge upside averaged 11.8 points, while hitting 40.9% of his shots and 33.3% of his 3-pointers. Those numbers get even better in his past five outings: 14.6 points, 41.3% field goals and 42.9% 3-pointers. Compare those numbers to his season averages of 8.2 points, 37.3% shooting and 32% from 3-point range.

Monday night at New Orleans, McLemore scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds (he has only averaged 2.8 boards on the year).

In Jones' feature on the developing shooting guard, Kings coach Michael Malone said McLemore knows these late-season games with Sacramento (26-48) are his chance to shine.

“He’s just kind of relaxing, stopped putting so much pressure on himself where he feels he has to make every shot, and he’s just going out there and playing,. And he’s taking the shot and shooting it with great confidence.”


Hungry for minutes?

Utah Jazz guard Brandon Rush (25) shoots against San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 109-105. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Utah Jazz guard Brandon Rush (25) shoots against San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 109-105. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

When you're an NBA veteran at the end of a team's bench, often picking up the dreaded DNP in the box score, it has to get under your skin.

Utah shooting guard Brandon Rush is living out that reality. He has played in 38 games, and averaged a minuscule 2.1 points and 1.2 rebounds in 11.0 minutes a game — far below his career averages of 8.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 24.9 minutes.

So Rush will have to forgive Desert News reporter Jody Genessy if he truly misinterpreted this tweet from the sixth-year pro following another DNP against Memphis last week.

None by Brandon Rush

Genessy asked Rush about the meaning of his four-word declaration a few days later. Rush told the reporter he was communicating with a cousin in that particular message.

But Rush admitted to Genessy that this season with Utah (23-52) has been "a little frustrating."

“It’s been up and down. It’s not what I expected. But I just fight through it and continue to try to get better, try to get this knee right for summertime. It happens.”

As noted by Genessy, Rush missed basically all of 2012-13 due to an ACL injury.

He'll be a free agent at the end of this season. And you don't have to read into Rush's tweets to figure out he won't be in Utah's training camp next fall.


'Hawks in the NBA standings

Only a couple of weeks remain in the regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand in the hunt for the playoffs.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

No. 1 — Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (54-19)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (51-22)

  • Currently No. 1 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (48-27)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (44-30)

  • Currently 9th in West, with the same record as No. 8 Memphis

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (42-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (39-33)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (38-36)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (32-42)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-42)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 10 — Cole Aldrich/New York (32-43)

  • Currently 9th in East, 1 game back of No. 8 Atlanta

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (26-48)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-48)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (23-52)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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They’re not booing in D.C., they’re saying ‘Drew’

Now that March Madness — and Stanford — brought a premature end to Kansas University's basketball season, all Jayhawks fans can do is sit around watching their Twitter feeds to see whether Joel Embiid will announce his intentions for next season, as in: Will he play at KU or in the NBA?

The good news? You can fill some of your KU hoops void with 'Hawks in the NBA.


Guess who's back

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden puts up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 21, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden puts up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 21, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

It's been about a month since our last 'Hawks entry here at KUsports.com, and probably the biggest news in that span was the return of Drew Gooden to the Association.

The bearded, No. 90-wearing veteran — out of the league since getting cut by Milwaukee last summer — joined the Washington Wizards. Initially, the Wiz signed Gooden to a 10-day contract, but he quickly proved his worth, and is under contract for the remainder of the season.

Washington no longer operates as one of the league's laughing stocks. So you'll get a chance to see Gooden in the playoffs. Entering Friday's games, the Wizards (36-35) held the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference, and it would take a significant collapse for them to fall out of the top eight.

Gooden came along slowly, with two scoreless games in very limited minutes to begin his stint in D.C. But when he gets minutes, he puts up points. Now in his 12th — though abbreviated — season, the 6-foot-10 veteran came through with a 21-point, nine-rebound outing in a key conference win over Brooklyn two weeks ago.

He has played in just 13 games, went scoreless in three of them (playing single-digit minutes on each occasion) and still averages 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 17.5 minutes a game.

Gooden did get fined $15,000 for a flagrant foul, but mostly his return has worked out for him and Washington.

In a Sam Amick story for USA Today, the former Jayhawk said getting overlooked by the league when he could've signed with any team before the 2013-14 campaign has fueled his late-season addition in D.C.

"I've got a vendetta right now against all the other teams that overlooked me. I wanted to show them once I got an opportunity that I've got a passion and I love this game, and I wasn't going to go and leave my career like it was left last season in Milwaukee."

In his career, Gooden has played for 10 of the league's 30 franchises: Orlando, Memphis, Cleveland, Chicago, Sacramento, San Antonio, Dallas, the Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee and Washington.


McLemore reflects on highs and lows of rookie year

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, drives to the basket against New York Knicks defender Tim Hardaway Jr. left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.The Knicks won 107-99.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, drives to the basket against New York Knicks defender Tim Hardaway Jr. left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.The Knicks won 107-99.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Since arriving in Sacramento as the Kings' No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Ben McLemore hasn't exactly set the NBA on fire. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard out of Kansas has averaged 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, made 37.2% of his shots and 31.7% of his 3-pointers.

McLemore sat down with James Ham at the Cowbell Kingdom blog for a Q & A this week. Here are a few of the more interesting comments from the rookie, who is constantly learning and adapting in the league.

The reporter asked McLemore what it was like to see Andrew Wiggins and Embiid playing for KU, knowing he could've played with them as a sophomore if he didn't leave for the NBA:

"You’re right, I could have been out there playing with those guys and just having fun playing Kansas basketball with those guys. But at the same time, I made a great decision to come to the NBA. I definitely don’t regret that. I have a great opportunity right now in a great situation."

McLemore also discussed his life-changing NBA contract, which took him from having very little money to a whole lot.

"I think it’s been great. I really haven’t had a problem. My family – as long as my mom, my sisters and brothers are fine, that’s the people I’m looking out for. I’ve got a lot of family and they know my situation and they understand that I did this and I’ve worked hard to get in this position."

McLemore said he will be back in Kansas this summer, taking classes.

"It’s very important because I want to get my degree. I was the first one out of my family to go to a university and I would be the first to have a degree. To look back and tell my kids that their dad got his degree in college, to tell them that this is important, that school is important. And my mom would be proud. She’d be even more proud if I got my degree."

Read the entire interview at CowbellKingdom.com.

Sacramento (25-46) is out of the playoff hunt in the Western Conference.


Hinrich, Bulls keep plugging away

Chicago Bulls shooting guard Kirk Hinrich (12) shoots past San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Chicago. The San Antonio Spurs defeated The Chicago Bulls 104-96. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

Chicago Bulls shooting guard Kirk Hinrich (12) shoots past San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Chicago. The San Antonio Spurs defeated The Chicago Bulls 104-96. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

Even though Chicago lost former league MVP Derrick Rose for the season due to a torn right meniscus, the Bulls have remained one of the top teams in the East.

Eleventh-year NBA veteran Kirk Hinrich has played a key role in Chicago's remarkably steady season, starting 50 of the Bulls' 62 games, and averaging 9.0 points and 3.9 assists.

After Hinrich's 18-point night helped Chicago beat the East's top team, Indiana, earlier this week, Sam Smith of bulls.com wrote that the former Kansas guard reflects the hard work of the Bulls, even though he might get overlooked.

As the article touches on, Hinrich hasn't had a stellar shooting season (39% field goals, 35% 3-pointers). He told Smith:

“The hard thing is when it’s not going in and you are not making it to stay confident and looking for your shot. But I feel I’ve done a better job (the last few months). I feel I’ve turned a corner in that regard.”

Chicago (40-31) currently holds the No. 4 seed in the East.


X, man

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo can not stop Los Angeles Lakers' Xavier Henry from dunking the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo can not stop Los Angeles Lakers' Xavier Henry from dunking the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Xavier Henry had to hit the pause button on the best season of his career when he was diagnosed with an abnormality of the lateral meniscus in his right knee.

After missing all of January and February, Henry (10.3 points per game, 42.2% shooting) returned to the Los Angeles Lakers' lineup in March, and has played in 11 of L.A.'s 12 games since then.

He dropped 24 points on San Antonio on March 19 in a loss, and later scored 22 on 8-of-11 shooting in a win against the Knicks earlier this week.

As you can see, the knee is doing just fine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq9NIzopEEY

Still, as Mark Medina wrote for the Los Angeles Daily News, teammates both admire and worry about the explosive Henry.

Fearless attacks on the rim have proven to be the norm for Henry, who hurt his left wrist doing so after returning from his knee injury. So the Lakers try to convince him to take it easy.

Here's what Henry told Medina of his teammates' conversations:

“All the time they tell me I’m crazy. They say, ‘What are you doing this for? You have nothing to prove.’ I have something to prove to myself. I’m not quitting. I’m not going to take a step back.”


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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Charlie Weis: Offense trying to catch up with defense at spring football

Spring break is over at Kansas University, and the football team got back to spring practice Sunday night.

Coach Charlie Weis spoke about the team's progress up to this point Tuesday at Anderson Family Football Complex, before the team's afternoon practice.

Listen to audio from the Q & A by clicking here: Weis updates progress of spring football

Here are some of the highlights, in bullet-point form:

• Coming back from spring break, Weis was pleased with the tempo at Sunday night's practice. Usually guys get into a routine and thats how you thrive. They had a week off and guys traveled all over the place, but everyone was here. They met and practiced until 10 at night. As far as the practice itself, it wasn't the sharpest at all times. And the offense had its best practice yet. Putting in a new offense against a more experienced defense, the defense had been ahead of the offense this spring. That changed at Sunday's practice. Clint Bowen is calling this "not positive Tuesday" after the defense got burned too many times.

• There has been clear separation amongst multiple quarterbacks this spring. Both the players and coaches see where that is but they're not going to come out and say that at this point. Today, for a good portion of practice, Heaps won't get any reps. That will force everyone's hands. The other players won't have that security blanket of the most experienced QB in the system being there. … The separation is solely based off performance. They've taken things like experience and thrown them out the window. A lot of it comes at the line of scrimmage. Quarterback and everyone else are looking for a signal from the sideline.

• Weis spent a lot of time on two days during spring break watching the scrimmage from before break in detail. On Sunday he talked with the coaches and told them what he saw on video, and asked where he was right and where he was wrong. On video, there is a lot with which to be pleased. But Weis didn't want the defense to feel good about itself because it was ahead of the offense. On Sunday the offense ran some plays to exploit some defensive vulnerabilities.

• Senior Jake Heaps is one of the leading candidates at QB. Because he is the most experienced, you would expect him to run the offense better than everyone else. Taking him out of the equation at Tuesday's puts more pressure on the other quarterbacks. The coaches want to see how each candidate responds. It's just as if someone got injured. Weis wanted to do that to create more pressure in the QB competition. When you're trying to see five players, it's hard to get everyone enough reps.

• Weis is letting the offensive staff put in the offense. Weis knows the system and the plays, but there are things in the system that need to be executed. They want to make sure they're not only installing plays but also executing before they get ahead of themselves.

• Senior Brandon Bourbon has transitioned back into a running back-only position. That has helped them tremendously at the position. … When personnel groupings are called out at practice, guys know now who is in what group, even if there isn't a physical depth chart for everyone to see.

• Senior receiver Tony Pierson has seen a little bit of contact at practices. Weis "isn't stupid enough" to let Pierson go through practices without getting hit. He got hit and came off the field and told Weis that was the best thing that has happened to him.

• At wide receiver, they could talk about senior transfer Nick Harwell. But the guy who has had a good spring — the best camp of anyone on offense, in fact — is junior Rodriguez Coleman. They're throwing the ball to him a lot. The defense focuses in on Pierson and Harwell. Coleman gets a lot of one-on-one because of that. If you don't have anyone who is getting open on the single receiver side, that's a problem. Coleman is getting open.

• Junior Kevin Short is playing at corner in practices. Both senior Dexter McDonald and senior JeCorey Shepherd are pretty good players at corner. Now they can put all three of those guys out on the field at once.

• Sophomore defensive back Greg Allen might be the most pleasant surprise on defense.

• Freshman tight end Ben Johnson has been getting a lot of reps. He's ready, willing and able, even though he hasn't played yet. He did a nice job on the show team while red-shirting last season, but now he's with the big boys. He really seems to get better at every practice, and that's because he is gaining confidence.

• With installing a new offense, they don't want to go too fast. If they have a bunch of plays, and they're not good at any of them, there is no growth. Now when they start to run certain plays, they can expect production. When they're on the field, they're on the clock. They've only got four hours on a practice day to work with the players. On the off days, coaches figure out how much installation they need, and how much repetition they need.

• On the offensive line right now, there are about eight players they think they could go into a game and win with right now. They would like that number to be 10. Going into the season you want a backup at each position. At most of the positions right now, there is a clear No. 1 and a clear No. 2. Not all positions, but most.

• Sophomore QB TJ Millweard is very sharp, mentally. He went through a year of not playing as a transfer. He has knocked off a lot of that rust. Mentally, he could go run the KU offense right now. Physically, he will have to prove he can do so.

• On defense, you can tell there are a lot of seniors. On offense, there are a lot of guys who weren't playing last season for KU. With the production they have had in the passing game the past two seasons, that might be a good thing. KU might be thin at a few positions on offense, but their front-line players are good enough to win with.

• Weis expects guys to come back in the spring strong and ready to play because of strength coach Scott Holsopple. He knows the line between caring for them and pushing them. He's the true "love-hate" coach. Holsopple has a lot more access to the players than anyone on the football staff. He has been critical to the team's development.

• On the defensive line, junior college DE Kapil Fletcher, walking through the door, should be more ready than high school players. There is a "fearsome foursome" of freshmen coming in. Weis just said this morning, "Let's not rule anybody out." They don't know until they get here whether they are ready for prime time. Weis tells every player coming in there is no reason to assume they will have to red-shirt. They have a chance to work themselves in on the two-deep.

• Senior WR Justin McCay is right behind Coleman right now. McCay had his best practice on Sunday. He plays a different style than Coleman, and he needs to use that to his advantage.

• Heaps hasn't changed one bit. That's one of the biggest things you could say about this guy. He's got great leadership on top of everything else. He's excited with the newness of the spring and the offense. With the lack of production last season, there is reason for him to be excited about a new system.

• Senior LB Ben Heeney has been great at practices, working his butt off. He is clearly one of, if not the leader, of the defense.

• They just met as a staff yesterday about recruiting. Weis went through about 30 guys who the staff wanted to offer. … Weis doesn't offer now until they get a transcript in. Weis wants to know the odds of a player graduating are very high. There are reasons guys don't get offered other than what kind of skills they possess.

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Getting to know Stanford

Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins calls a play during the first half on Friday, March 21, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins calls a play during the first half on Friday, March 21, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

St. Louis — When this year's NCAA Tournament bracket came out, the popular assumption was Kansas University's men's basketball team would need to win a rematch with New Mexico in order to reach the Sweet 16.

So much for that theory. After surviving an early scare from Eastern Kentucky on Friday at Scottrade Center, the No. 2-seeded Jayhawks (25-9) earned a berth in the round of 32 against Stanford — not New Mexico.

The South region's No. 10 seed, the Cardinal (22-12) knocked UNM out of The Big Dance with a 58-53 victory Friday.

The Lobos entered the postseason ranked No. 17 in the nation, and many observers thought UNM deserved a better seed than No. 7. But Stanford, making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008 — and the first since sixth-year coach Johnny Dawkins took over — outplayed New Mexico early to get out to a 20-4 lead less than 20 minutes into the game.

Said senior forward Josh Heustis afterward: “Coach tells us, a lot of teams are just happy to be here. Only a handful of teams think they can actually win the thing. We’re going to be one of those teams.”

Stanford finished just 10-8 in the Pac 12, but is fairly battle-tested, having now played 17 games against teams which made it to the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal are 8-9 against the field, with wins against Arizona State, New Mexico, Cal Poly, Connecticut, Oregon, Texas Southern and UCLA.

Beginning at 11:15 a.m. Sunday morning, Stanford has a chance to notch its biggest victory to date, against Kansas.

On Saturday, Dawkins talked about the opportunity that awaits his program: a trip to the Sweet 16.

"You know, it would be great. Whenever you play a program like Kansas you have an opportunity to play a storied program," Dawkins said.

"For us, Stanford has been to the Final Four before. They have been to the tournament a number of times. It would just continue to keep Stanford, you know, where we think Stanford belongs, one of the elite programs in the country.

"When you compete against a program like Kansas and you can have success, it puts you among those type programs and so it is an opportunity to continue to build on. Something that's been very good, you know, out in California at Stanford."

Stanford gets 87.2% of its offense from its starters, because three players who averaged double-digit minutes last season missed most or all of this season with injuries.

Meet the Cardinal Kansas will have to hold back to move on to Memphis.

Chasson Randle, No. 5

6-2, 185, jr. guard

Stanford guard Chasson Randle takes questions in the team locker room on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Stanford guard Chasson Randle takes questions in the team locker room on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

When Kansas freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden met with the media early Saturday afternoon at Scottrade Center, they hadn't yet gone through a Stanford scouting report.

So when a reporter asked them about how Randle could impact the game, it caught them a little off guard.

Replied Wiggins: "I am not sure right now. How about you, Wayne?"

Selden's response: "I am along with you."

By now, they've found out the junior guard makes Stanford's offense (73.1 points, 46.2% shooting) work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zreE3ER3q7M

Randle averages 18.9 points and 3.5 rebounds, and leads the Cardinal with 65 3-pointers (he makes 40.1% of his attempts). The floor general also asserts himself to get to the foul line, where he has made 162 of 210 tries (77.1%).

Randle, who played all 40 minutes against the Lobos, led Stanford with 23 points, and he has scored at least 20 points in five of Stanford's last six games.

Dwight Powell, No. 33

6-10, 240, sr. forward

Stanford forward Dwight Powell, a Toronto native, talks with reporters about his familiarity with Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins, also from Toronto, in the team locker room on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Stanford forward Dwight Powell, a Toronto native, talks with reporters about his familiarity with Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins, also from Toronto, in the team locker room on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

Powell, playing against a talented UNM front court, wasn't himself in his NCAA tourney debut. The big man only scored three points and missed all eight of his shot attempts.

The senior, who averages 13.9 points and 6.8 rebounds and has seven double-doubles this year, leads Stanford's all-time list of games played, with 133.

Powell's experience and production have twice landed him on the All-Pac 12 first team.

Anthony Brown, No. 21

6-6, 215, jr. guard/forward

Stanford guard Anthony Brown, front, claps his hands after a New Mexico foul on Friday, March 21, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. At left is Stanford guard Robbie Lemons.

Stanford guard Anthony Brown, front, claps his hands after a New Mexico foul on Friday, March 21, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. At left is Stanford guard Robbie Lemons. by Nick Krug

His seven rebounds led Stanford against New Mexico, and the 6-6 swingman averages 12.6 points and 5.0 rebounds.

Another 40-minute man against UNM, Brown scored 10 points and hit all three of his 3-point tries.

Here is what the red-shirt junior from Fountain Valley, Calif., had to say about facing Kansas.

Josh Huestis, No. 24

6-7, 230, sr. forward

Known for his impact on the defensive end of the floor and his team-leading work on the glass (8.2 rebounds a game), he also averages 11.3 points on 45.5% shooting.

Earlier this season, Huestis became Stanford's all-time leading shot blocker, and currently has 184 on his résumé, even though he is only 6-foot-7. He has swatted 63 shots this season.

The forward sneaks outside when he can, and hits 34.2% from long range (25 of 73 3-pointers on the season).

Stefan Nastic, No. 4

6-11, 245, jr. center

The biggest man in a Cardinal uniform averages 7.1 points and 2.8 rebounds. His quick start against UNM made it easier for Stanford to advance, too. Nastic made his first three shots of the game.

He had made 16 straight shots over the course of five games before missing his final attempt of the first half. During said five-game stretch, he has made 94.7% of his shots. But he only took 3.8 attempts a game.

On the year, he hits 56.7% of his shots, with the vast majority of those coming in the paint.

Stanford bench

John Gage, No. 40

6-10, 225, sr. forward/center

The backup big man is the Cardinal's leading scorer off the bench at just 3.3 points a game.

In the Pac 12 Tournament, he scored 8 points on back-to-back nights against Arizona State and UCLA. But on Friday against UNM, he went 1 for 4, scored three points and grabbed six rebounds in 14 minutes.

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Live from St. Louis: Media day at Scottrade Center

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins grins as he answers questions from media members in the team locker room during a day of press conferences and practices at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Thursday, March 20, 2014.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins grins as he answers questions from media members in the team locker room during a day of press conferences and practices at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Thursday, March 20, 2014. by Nick Krug

To wrap things up with our media day blog, here are a couple of final thoughts on KU's Friday opponent, Eastern Kentucky.

The Colonels make 8.9 three-pointers a game (eighth in the nation).

This season, Kansas has allowed opponents to make 35.9% of their three-pointers (257th in the nation).

Jayhawks opponents have made 6.3 three-pointers a game (185th in the nation).

A reporter asked Kansas sophomore forward Jamari Traylor about the challenge of defending EKU.

"They have a lot of guys that can stretch the floor and guys that will be their 4-man and can be 3-men," Traylor said. "So everybody can stretch the floor, and everybody can shoot it."

Without giving up any secrets, Traylor said KU has a good game plan in place, and the Jayhawks should be able to go out and do their jobs.

... On a totally unrelated note, you won't want to miss our video from Mike Yoder of Frank Mason showing off his athleticism during KU's open practice.

The 5-foot-11 freshman guard followed a few backflips with a dunk — a real crowd pleaser.

Update: 4:40 p.m.

KUsports.com's Matt Tait caught up with KU sophomore guard Evan Manning Thursday afternoon.

Throughout his basketball life, Evan spent postseasons with his father, Danny. But now that his dad's Tulsa team is playing in the NCAA tournament, March has a slightly different feel for the younger Manning.

The good news: a couple of victories by KU and Tulsa, and the father and son would be reunited in Memphis, one of the Sweet 16 sites.

Update: 4:20 p.m.

Kansas freshmen guards Frank Mason and Brannen Greene took a couple of minutes Thursday afternoon to provide a scouting report on Eastern Kentucky.

They know the Colonels are fast, and Friday's game figures to be played at a pace players from both teams will enjoy. The question is whether both sides will be able to thrive.

Update: 4:05 p.m.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden smiles while thumbing through an iPhone as strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy works on this calves in the team locker room during a day of press conferences and practices at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Thursday, March 20, 2014.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden smiles while thumbing through an iPhone as strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy works on this calves in the team locker room during a day of press conferences and practices at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Thursday, March 20, 2014. by Nick Krug

One thing that really shines through on a day like this at the NCAA tournament is how much fun it is for the players to be here. They're excited for the postseason and they do actually have some down moments in which they don't have to be uptight or worried about the stresses that come with playing on this stage.

You can really see that in the above Nick Krug photo form inside the KU locker room.

Getting back to tomorrow afternoon's game, KU sophomore forward Perry Ellis said Eastern Kentucky could test KU's ability to get up and down the floor.

"They're a real quick team. Real fast," Ellis said. "A lot of back cuts. We just have to be fundamentally sound defensively, real disciplined and come out with a lot of energy defensively."

Ellis said playing with energy will be the key to the game, because if KU does that good things will follow.

— Check back in later at KUsports.com for more from St. Louis.

Update: 3:40 p.m.

(This entry comes from Matt Tait, who has bounced all around Scottrade Center today, gathering quotes.)

Learned a few interesting things in the Eastern Kentucky locker room this afternoon, mostly about their style of play.

There were a few laughs and colorful moments from big man Eric Stutz, who said people always tell him he looks like Jesus, Fabio and Ashton Kutcher, and added that he would like to own a waste disposal company after college.

"There's always gonna be trash," Stutz said. "…If I can get a degree in accounting along with the business aspect of it, all you gotta do is learn how to pick up trash.”

As for what they'll throw at the Jayhawks in about 24 hours, the Colonels, as you surely know by now, rely heavily on the three-point shot and pressure defense.

From the sound of things, they get a lot of open looks off of penetration, so if the Jayhawks' on-ball defense — or help and recovery on the back end — is not on point, EKU may very well get some open looks tomorrow.

Although they shot as many three-pointers as nearly any other team in the country, it's not like they just jack 'em up and don't have a conscience out there. A good chunk of their looks come from running offense and making extra passes, and they really try to take good looks. They do own the philosophy, though, that after one pass, if they've got a good look they can take it.

Senior guard Glenn Cosey made 110-of-259 threes for EKU this season and his teammates said he's the guy they'd want with the ball with the game on the line.

As for that pressure defense. It sounds like it's mostly in the half court and it's mostly a product of just wanting to out-work their opponents. A lot of times, as may be the case with Andrew Wiggins, one of their best defensive plays is to deny the catch. Stutz said Wiggins will get his touches and points and they know that, but they're still going to try to deny him the ball as much as possible.

From what I was told, there's not a lot of full-court pressure with the EKU 'D.' The point guard will usually pick up his man the length of the floor and that effort generally is what fuels the rest of the guys on the floor to get up on their guys.

“That's where our defense starts,” said senior Orlando Williams. “The point guard picking up his man and everybody else is in the passing lanes denying their man.”

It's an interesting match-up and one KU could quickly find difficult if the Jayhawks are careless with the ball and lazy. If they come out sharp, though, and match EKU's effort, they should be fine.

More to come….

Update: 3:20 p.m.

Listen to everything KU coach Bill Self had to say at his press conference:

Self talks Eastern Kentucky, the NCAA tournament, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins on Thursday afternoon at Scottrade Center, site of KU's Friday afternoon game against EKU.

Update: 2:50 p.m.

Eastern Kentucky's players know they have a style that fits March Madness well.

Here are a couple of the Colonels, Orlando Williams and Marcus Lewis, explaining the EKU approach in the locker room Thursday afternoon.

— Check back throughout the afternoon for more from St. Louis.

Update: 2:40 p.m.

Reporters basically tripped all over themselves to get interviews with Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins in a very crowded Jayhawks locker room Thursday afternoon.

None by Matt Tait

While Wiggins and some of his teammates dealt with the swarm, senior center Tarik Black and sophomore forward Jamari Traylor took the stage in the press conference room.

Black said he has seen some crazy things happen in the NCAA tournament, and had crazy things happen to teams on which he has played at Memphis. The main thing to do this time of year, he stressed, is stay composed.

People try to make predictions about the tournament, Black added, but they're more like assumptions.

Bill Self took the stage next, and said the Jayhawks were pleased to be playing relatively close to home. Here are some of the highlights from his session:

• Eastern Kentucky does a lot of things that concern him. The Colonels don't turn the ball over, they have eight players who can shoot 3-pointers, and they defend higher on the floor than anybody KU has faced this season.

• All three Division I Kansas programs are here in St. Louis. As a state, each fan base should be proud about that.

• When teams pressure (EKU does) they do so to play to their strengths and skill sets. When KU sees that pressure, the Jayhawks need to not forget to play through their bigs. Hopefully Kansas is prepared for that.

• KU freshman center Joel Embiid has made progress in rehab, but they're taking it slow. The staff is optimistic they can get him to practice next week, if KU is still alive in the tournament. … Without Embiid on the floor, defensive mistakes turn into layups. In his absence, Kansas has to be much more sound defensively.

• Andrew Wiggins has a flair for the moment. That gives Self confidence in what the freshman phenom can make happen in the postseason. Wiggins needs to assert himself offensively and impact more possessions. If that happens, he will score more points.

• Kansas and Missouri, at this point, would have to meet up in the NCAA tournament to renew their rivalry. A scheduled regular-season game probably won't happen as long as Self is coaching at Kansas.

• Andrew Wigins and his brother, Nick, a senior guard at Wichita State, are both playing in St. Louis. Nick was great through the recruiting of Andrew by the KU staff. That played a minor role in Andrew picking KU, as did the fact parents Mitchell and Marita could make one trip to Kansas and see both of their sons play. … The fact that WSU and KU aren't playing each other here in St. Louis is probably better for the family.

• Wiggins will have an opportunity in the postseason to prove any of his critics wrong, but it will take Kansas advancing to make that happen.

Wouldn't you know it, as soon as Self left the press conference, he had a throng of other reporters waiting for him in the hallway.

None by Benton Smith

Update: 1:00 p.m.

None by Matt Tait

We just got back from the Eastern Kentucky locker room and coach Jeff Neubauer's press conference.

The Colonels (24-9), out of the Ohio Valley Conference, seem to be taking a laid back approach to their potential role as giant-killers against No. 2-seeded Kansas (24-9) on Friday.

Credit for the upbeat vibe in the locker room goes to ninth-year coach Jeff Neubauer. He has seen up close what it takes to bust a bracket. Neubauer served as an assistant coach at Richmond when the No. 14 seed knocked out No. 3 seed South Carolina in 1998.

Neubauer also worked at West Virginia, when the Mountaineers reached the Elite Eight in 2005.

The coach fielded plenty of questions — about Kansas, coming out of the OVC and March Madness in general. Here are some of the highlights:

• It's so hard in a league like the OVC to get to this point. And it will be a big challenge Friday against Kansas.

• The Colonels have talked all season about embracing challenges. They don't use the word underdog.

• He coached EKU as a No. 16 seed against North Carolina in 2007. The Colonels didn't do a good job out of the gate and ended up in a huge hole and lost by 21 points.

• Keeping that rough performance from 2007 in mind, Neubauer has been practicing his players hard in preparation for Kansas.

• EKU played three tournament teams this season: Wisconsin, North Carolina State and VCU. The Colonels, who went 0-3 in those matchups, played really well at N.C. State for 34 minutes. The game they will try to draw upon against KU is the overtime loss at VCU.

• Kansas has committed a lot of dead-ball turnovers/travels this season. EKU needs steals, not dead-ball mistakes, because steals turn into layups and dunks.

• The biggest problem/issue facing EKU's defense is junior Jayhawks point guard Naadir Tharpe. Neubauer said Tharpe takes care of the ball and that makes it difficult for opponents to score easy points through defense.

• EKU won't try to make Kansas play small. If the Jayhawks played small, they would still be significantly bigger than the Colonels.

None by Matt Tait

Original post: 11:00 a.m.

Kansas head coach Bill Self laughs with media members as he stops for questions following the Jayhawks' arrival at the Hyatt Regency hotel at the Arch, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in St. Louis. The Jayhawks play their first game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

Kansas head coach Bill Self laughs with media members as he stops for questions following the Jayhawks' arrival at the Hyatt Regency hotel at the Arch, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in St. Louis. The Jayhawks play their first game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. by Nick Krug

While you're settling in to watch a full day's worth of NCAA tournament games — or sneaking away from work responsibilities here and there to keep up with the potential upsets — the KUsports.com staff will be busy gathering quotes, videos, stories and photos at Scottrade Center, in St. Louis.

Press conferences and open practices are the name of the game today for Kansas University's men's basketball team, as well as the other seven teams playing round of 64 games at the site: Eastern Kentucky, Stanford, New Mexico, Wichita State, Cal Poly, Kansas State and Kentucky.

Check in at this blog throughout the day for updates.

Eastern Kentucky players and coach Jeff Neubauer won't be available until early afternoon.

Kansas players and coach Bill Self will meet the media a little after 1:30 p.m.

In the meantime, check out a couple of videos from KU's arrival Wednesday night.

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Sneak peek: Who are the Colonels?

We'll be learning a lot about the Eastern Kentucky Colonels this week, in the days leading up to the NCAA Tournament matchup between the No. 15 seed out of the Ohio Valley Conference and the No. 2-seeded Kansas Jayhawks — Friday at 3:10 p.m., in St. Louis, Mo.

After finding out his team's draw, EKU coach Jeff Neubauer told the Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait he and his staff knew they would be facing one of the nation's elite teams:

"… We just happened to draw one of the greatest programs in the history of college basketball, so our team is looking forward to the challenge, and we’ll see if we’re ready for this test.”

Obviously, we're a lot more familiar with the Jayhawks (24-9) than the Colonels (24-9), so we might as well start getting to know KU's foe.

The best way to do that is with video highlights. Eastern Kentucky swept through the OVC tournament in Nashville, Tenn., more than a week ago. EKU defeated:

  • Southeast Missouri State, 84-76

  • Murray State, 86-83

  • Belmont, 79-73

EKU only has two double-digit scorers for KU to worry about, but three more players average a hair under 10, and the Colonels' sixth-leading scorer puts up more than eight points a night, so there is some balance to their attack:

G — Glenn Cosey, 18.8 ppg

G — Corey Wladen, 14.1 ppg

G — Marcus Lewis, 9.9 ppg

G — Orlando Williams, 9.6 ppg

G — Tarius Johnson, 9.5 ppg

F — Eric Stutz, 8.4 ppg

Playing in the one-bid OVC, in which Eastern Kentucky went 11-5 (second place in the East division, third-best mark in the league) didn't provide the Colonels with much high-level competition. But they did venture into some challenging non-conference matchups, including an 86-61 loss at Wisconsin in mid-December.

These highlights are Badger-centric, but you can see some of the ways Kansas might be able to break down the EKU defense for baskets:

• Anticipate over-aggressive plays in passing lanes

• Attack the paint

• Move the ball for reversals, especially against zone defense, for open shots

— Look for more on EKU in the days to come at KUsports.com.

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It’s go time: Bill Self talks March Madness

Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles as he walks past a television camera following the NCAA tournament selection show, Sunday, March 16, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas, a No. 2 seed in the South Regional, will face No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky on Friday in St. Louis.

Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles as he walks past a television camera following the NCAA tournament selection show, Sunday, March 16, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas, a No. 2 seed in the South Regional, will face No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky on Friday in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

In the realm of college basketball, March is known for its madness.

Kansas University coach Bill Self experienced a little of that himself Sunday evening after the NCAA unveiled the 2014 national championship bracket.

Even though Self barely had time to read up on KU's Friday opponent, Eastern Kentucky — let alone scout the Colonels by watching some game video — a room full of reporters awaited him at 6 p.m. inside Allen Fieldhouse to talk about the matchup between No. 2-seeded Kansas (24-9) and the No. 15 seed, EKU (24-9), out of the Ohio Valley Conference.

Here are the highlights of the Q&A, in bullet-point form:

• Self kind of thought Kansas would get a No. 2 seed. But he still thought KU had a really good chance of getting a No. 1 seed. If things had happened differently in some of the other conference tournaments, maybe the Jayhawks would have got consideration for the most sought after seed line.

• In KU's pod, New Mexico looks better than its No. 7 seed. Self hopes KU has a chance to play UNM or Stanford in the round of 32, but the Jayhawks' focus needs to be on Eastern Kentucky and defending the 3-point line. Self has already learned that EKU has four starters who shoot 3-pointers. They're a lot like Iowa State in that aspect.

• Sometimes when you play close to home there are more distractions. KU experienced that some last year, in Kansas City, Mo., for its first two NCAA games. Friday's games in St. Louis will be some of the hottest tickets ever for the first two rounds. Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky and Wichita State are all playing there. (All except KU are competing in the Midwest region.)

• KU has been in the same city as K-State for the NCAA tournament before. It will be interesting. You wonder if fans from both sides of the Sunflower Showdown will cheer for their rivals.

• Self couldn't believe SMU and Larry Brown didn't make the tournament. When it all played out on the selection show, Self though North Carolina would play SMU. But he forgot Providence hadn't been announced yet. … That's what Brown thought would happen (a Roy Williams and UNC vs. Brown and SMU game) when Self spoke with the former KU coach on Sunday morning.

• On the other hand… Self was really happy to see Danny Manning's Tulsa team earn a spot. Tulsa is in the same region as Kansas, as a No. 13 seed, and will face UCLA on Friday.

• Kansas needs to play with high energy all the time. When you do that you can camouflage some mistakes with this group. Iowa State might've beaten anybody the way it played Friday in the Big 12 semifinals. KU might've been better off giving the Cyclones some "dare" shots, instead of letting ISU get inside of them.

• Looking at a potential rematch with New Mexico, that first meeting (an 80-63 KU win at Sprint Center) was a long time ago, on Dec. 14. Self doesn't know how much of an advantage either team would have should each advance.

• With a young team, there is potential for some distractions at this time of year. The most focused team Self has ever had was in 2008. That was a "wild crew," but they did everything the coaches asked and trusted them. It's great to have rules, but sometimes players think rules are great for everybody else but themselves. That's when you start getting distractions.

• Andrew Wiggins has played great. He just didn't make some shots early against ISU.

• Self didn't know which regional KU would end up in. No matter what one you end up in, you always think that the committee didn't do you any favors. But the Midwest (No. 1 Wichita State, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Duke, No. 4 Louisville, No. 5 St. Louis) looks really tough.

• Not to get ahead of themselves, but the South region has the best team in the country — Florida. And a team that everyone thought was the best team in the country a month ago — No. 3 Syracuse. UCLA, the No. 4 seed, is one of the hottest teams in the country. But the focus is getting through this weekend.

• There are more good teams and less great teams this season. Florida is a great team. The bottom line: everybody in the field can be had. This year, there are more good, solid teams that can beat what are perceived as the better teams.

• Joel Embiid's status remains the same. He feels better. Self doesn't feel optimistic Embiid would be able to play this weekend. But he is optimistic about the following weekend (Sweet 16). His availability is all symptom-related and he has responded very well of late.

— Listen to the complete press conference: KU coach Bill Self reacts to NCAA Tournament bracket

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What’s in a seed?: How Kansas has fared in the NCAAs on each of the top 4 seed lines

Now that the 2014 NCAA Tournament bracket is official, we know what the next couple of weeks could look like for Kansas University's men's basketball team.

The Jayhawks (24-9) earned the No. 2 seed in the South bracket, and open against no. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky on Friday in St. Louis.

Here are the rest of the Round of 64 matchups for the South bracket:

No. 1 Florida vs. Albany/St. Mary's

No. 8 Colorado vs. No. 9 Pittsburgh

No. 5 VCU vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin

No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 13 Tulsa

No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Dayton

No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 14 Western Michigan

No. 7 New Mexico vs. No. 10 Stanford

No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 15 Eastern Kentucky

Believe it or not, this is just the second time in KU coach Bill Self's 11 seasons that the Jayhawks received a No. 2 seed.

Since Self took over the program in the 2003-04 season, Kansas has entered the Big Dance as a No. 1 seed five times, and now two times apiece on the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed lines.

The unpredictability of March is what makes the tournament a national treasure. Earning a top-four seed guarantees nothing.

Can KU make it all the way to the Final Four as a No. 2 seed? Absolutely. It happened two years ago. But as KU's rabid fan base is completely aware, playing as a favored seed can go in the other direction, too.

Here is a look back at how Kansas has played on each seed line in the Self era.

No. 1 seeds

2007

Kansas head coach Bill Self rips into center Sasha Kaun for his defensive play during the first half of Thursday's game against the Salukis at the HP Pavillion in San Jose. Left of center is guard Mario Chalmers and right is guard Rodrick Stewart.

Kansas head coach Bill Self rips into center Sasha Kaun for his defensive play during the first half of Thursday's game against the Salukis at the HP Pavillion in San Jose. Left of center is guard Mario Chalmers and right is guard Rodrick Stewart. by Nick Krug

The first No. 1 seed for the Jayhawks under Self didn't come with an accommodating road to the Final Four. The Jayhawks played the first weekend in Chicago, but the selection committee placed KU in the West regional, which meant an Elite Eight matchup with UCLA in San Jose, California, where the Bruins ended KU's season.

'07 results:

1st round: Kansas beat No. 16 Niagara, 107-67

2nd round: Kansas beat No. 8 Kentucky, 88-76

Sweet 16: Kansas beat No. 4 Southern Illinois, 61-58

Elite 8: No. 2 UCLA beat Kansas, 68-55

2008

Kansas University's Mario Chalmers (15) leads the celebration as time runs out on the Jayhawks' 75-68 overtime victory over Memphis. Chalmers hit a three-pointer to tie it with 2.1 seconds left in regulation, and the Jayhawks went on to win their first national title in 20 years.

Kansas University's Mario Chalmers (15) leads the celebration as time runs out on the Jayhawks' 75-68 overtime victory over Memphis. Chalmers hit a three-pointer to tie it with 2.1 seconds left in regulation, and the Jayhawks went on to win their first national title in 20 years. by Thad Allender

You could say the 2008 NCAA Tournament worked out all right for Kansas. The Jayhawks' No. 1 seed gave them two games in Omaha, Neb., and two more in Detroit, before they moved on to the all-No. 1 seed Final Four in San Antonio, where KU defeated Memphis in overtime to win the national championship.

'08 results

1st round: Kansas beat No. 16 Portland State, 85-61

2nd round: Kansas beat No. 8 UNLV, 75-56

Sweet 16: Kansas beat No. 12 Villanova, 72-57

Elite Eight: Kansas beat No. 10 Davidson, 59-57

Final Four: Kansas beat No. 1 North Carolina, 84-66

National Championship: Kansas beat No. 1 Memphis, 75-68 (OT)

2010

Kansas forward Marcus Morris covers his head after the Jayhawks' 69-67 loss to Northern Iowa Friday, March 20, 2010 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris covers his head after the Jayhawks' 69-67 loss to Northern Iowa Friday, March 20, 2010 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. by Nick Krug

This is the worst-case scenario for a No. 1 seed, from a historical perspective. No top seed ever has lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But Kansas is one of the No. 1s to bite the bullet without getting to the Sweet 16. The Jayhawks opened in Oklahoma City, Okla., but never made it to St. Louis, because Northern Iowa ended KU's run before it had a chance to pick up any steam.

'10 results

1st round: Kansas beat No. 16 Lehigh, 90-74

2nd round: No. 9 Northern Iowa beat Kansas, 69-67

2011

Kansas forward Marcus Morris hangs his head in the waning moments of the Jayhawks' loss to Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday, March 27, 2011 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris hangs his head in the waning moments of the Jayhawks' loss to Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday, March 27, 2011 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. by Nick Krug

Kansas handled its coveted No. 1 seed better the season following its second-round exit against Northern Iowa. But after the Jayhawks advanced out of Tulsa, Okla., another mid-major team, VCU, stopped them short of a Final Four by ending KU's season in the Elite Eight, in San Antonio.

'11 results

1st round: Kansas beat No. 16 Boston, 72-53

2nd round: Kansas beat No. 9 Illinois, 73-59

Sweet 16: Kansas beat No. 12 Richmond, 77-57

Elite 8: No. 11 VCU beat Kansas, 71-61

2013

Kansas players Kevin Young (40) and Elijah Johnson collapse over Michigan forward Mitch McGary during the first half on Friday, March 29, 2013 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Kansas players Kevin Young (40) and Elijah Johnson collapse over Michigan forward Mitch McGary during the first half on Friday, March 29, 2013 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. by Nick Krug

First weekend sites don't get any cushier for Kansas than Kansas City, Mo. The Jayhawks moved on to the Sweet 16 via Sprint Center. However, the Jayhawks' run ended in their first game at the next stop, Arlington, Texas, with an overtime loss to Michigan.

'13 results

1st round: Kansas beat No. 16 Western Kentucky, 64-57

2nd round: Kansas beat No. 8 North Carolina, 70-58

Sweet 16: No. 4 Michigan beat Kansas, 87-85 (OT)

No. 2 seed

2012

Kansas center Jeff Withey looks for a shot as Kentucky forward Anthony Davis reaches in to defend during the first half of the national championship on Monday, April 2, 2012 in New Orleans.

Kansas center Jeff Withey looks for a shot as Kentucky forward Anthony Davis reaches in to defend during the first half of the national championship on Monday, April 2, 2012 in New Orleans. by Nick Krug

Kansas couldn't make it three No. 1 seeds in a row, but the selection committee kept No. 2 seed KU close to home, and the Jayhawks responded by sweeping through Omaha and St. Louis, en route to the Final Four, in New Orleans. Kansas got all the way to the tournament final, where Kentucky stopped the Jayhawks from capturing their second championship in five seasons.

'12 results

1st round: Kansas beat No. 15 Detroit, 65-50

2nd round: Kansas beat No. 10 Purdue, 63-60

Sweet 16: Kansas beat No. 11 North Carolina State, 60-57

Elite 8: Kansas beat No. 1 North Carolina, 80-67

Final 4: Kansas beat No. 2 Ohio State, 64-62

National Championship: No. 1 Kentucky beat Kansas, 67-59

No. 3 seeds

2005

As a No. 3 seed playing not too far away, in Oklahoma City, for the first weekend, many figured Kansas was primed for another deep run in the tournament — and potentially a showdown with the regional's No. 1 seed, North Carolina, in the Elite Eight. Instead, Bucknell bounced the Jayhawks in the first round.

'05 result

1st round: No. 14 Bucknell beat Kansas, 64-63

2009

Kansas guard Sherron Collins looks back to the Kansas bench after fouling Michigan State guard Kalen Lucas on a made bucket late in the second half Friday, March 27, 2009 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Kansas guard Sherron Collins looks back to the Kansas bench after fouling Michigan State guard Kalen Lucas on a made bucket late in the second half Friday, March 27, 2009 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. by Nick Krug

A year after the program's first national championship in 20 years, Self rebuilt quickly. A young group of Jayhawks earned a No. 3 seed and won two games in Minneapolis before falling to eventual national runner-up Michigan State in the Sweet 16.

'09 results

1st round: Kansas beat No. 14 North Dakota State, 84-74

2nd round: Kansas beat No. 11 Dayton, 60-43

Sweet 16: No. 2 Michigan State beat Kansas, 67-62

No. 4 seeds

2004

Even though the Jayhawks were a No. 4 seed, they enjoyed a more than generous bracket assignment, playing the first two rounds at Kemper Arena, in Kansas City, and the next two in St. Louis, Mo. KU got all the way to the Elite Eight in Self's first season, and were minutes away from a third straight Final Four appearance before losing to Georgia Tech in overtime.

'04 results:

1st round: Kansas beat No. 13 Illinois-Chicago, 78-44

2nd round: Kansas beat No. 12 Pacific, 78-63

Sweet 16: Kansas beat No. 9 UAB, 100-74

Elite 8: No. 3 Georgia Tech beat Kansas, 79-71 (OT)

2006


Kansas guard Russell Robinson makes his way from the court as the Bradley Braves celebrate their victory Friday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Kansas guard Russell Robinson makes his way from the court as the Bradley Braves celebrate their victory Friday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. by Nick Krug

A young Kansas team didn't quite have the résumé for a top-three seed, and opened the postseason in Auburn Hills, Mich. Though the players were different from the previous season, the result was the same: a first-round exit for the Jayhawks. This time it came at the hands of another B-school, Bradley.

'06 result:

1st round: No. 13 Bradley beat Kansas, 77-73

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One more time: Iowa State takes on Kansas in Big 12 semifinals

Iowa State forwards Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim celebrate the Cyclones' win over Kansas State on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. They will face Kansas in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Tournament on Friday.

Iowa State forwards Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim celebrate the Cyclones' win over Kansas State on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. They will face Kansas in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Tournament on Friday. by Nick Krug

Iowa State didn't have to go to overtime to beat Kansas State in the first game of the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at Sprint Center, but that game was just as intense as the one that followed it — an OT thriller between Kansas and Oklahoma State.

Now that both the Cyclones (24-7) and Jayhawks (24-8) have lived up to the old March motto of "survive and advance," they will play each other for the third time this season Friday night at Sprint Center for a chance to advance to the Big 12 title game.

ISU and KU haven't played each other in six weeks. In the first meeting, on Jan. 13, Kansas won, 77-70, at Iowa State.

The rematch came 16 days later in Lawrence. Again, Kansas prevailed. This time, 92-81, at Allen Fieldhouse.

For the end of this trilogy, we've got a neutral site, in Kansas City, Mo. Sprint Center usually can't be called neutral the way Kansas fans pack it out, but Iowa State might be the one school this season that can come close to matching the crowd energy of the Jayhawks' fan base.

ISU always travels well for the conference tournament, even if the faithful know their Cyclones have little chance of winning the event. This year, ISU (ranked No. 16 entering the postseason) could be cutting down nets Saturday night. Even if the Cyclones have to go through No. 10 Kansas to do it.

As a bit of a refresher course on Fred Hoiberg's Cyclones, here is what they've been up to lately.

Melvin Ejim, No. 3

6-6, 220, sr. forward

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe defends as Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim drives during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe defends as Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim drives during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 15 points, 5/15 FGs, 2/5 3s, 3/3 FTs, 5 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 3 steals, 5 fouls.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 18 points, 7/13 FGs, 1/2 3s, 3/4 FTs, 8 rebounds (3 offensive), 3 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers and 4 fouls in 29 minutes.

The Big 12's player of the year had a slow start in the quarterfinals against K-State. Slow by his standards at least. And Ejim still scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds after picking up some hardware.

None by Cyclone Basketball

Said Hoiberg of Ejim's outing, after ISU advanced with a 91-85 win: "Melvin, to go out there, and he had five offensive rebounds in the first half, did a good job I thought. He missed a couple of easy ones there in the first.  He could have had a 30‑point game, but then made those really tough finishes around the basket, down the stretch.  He hit some big free throws for us and again really helped us do the job on the glass."

He averages 18.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and has hit 36 of 109 3's in Hoiberg's free-wheeling offense.

DeAndre Kane, No. 50

6-4, 200, sr. guard

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor gets a hand in the face of Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane as he puts up a three late in the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor gets a hand in the face of Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane as he puts up a three late in the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 21 points, 6/13 FGs, 1/3 3s, 8/16 FTs, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 steals.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 22 points, 8/14 FGs, 2/4 3s, 4/6 FTs, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover in 34 minutes.

Kane scored the first basket of the game against Kansas State, then didn't make much noise offensively for a long time.

The All-Big 12 first team point guard scored 11 points and had 2 assists before fouling out. Still, ISU handled the final minutes just fine without him.

Kane averages 16.9 points, 6.7 boards and 5.8 assists. He has shot a team-leading 214 free throws, but only converts them at 63.6% of the time.

Georges Niang, No. 31

6-7, 240, so. forward

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position with Iowa State defenders Georges Niang, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position with Iowa State defenders Georges Niang, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 11 points, 4/20 FGs, 0/9 FTs, 3/4 FTs, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 24 points, 10/17 FGs, 3/7 3s, 1/2 FTs, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 turnovers, 1 block in 38 minutes.

When Kane left the floor against K-State, Niang became ISU's go-to play-maker.

After the Wildcats tied the game at 76 with less than four minutes left, Niang hit a jumper, found Naz Long for a 3, hit Ejim for a layup, scored in the paint, grabbed a defensive board and fed Long for an assist.

The versatile forward finished with 18 points, seven boards and four helpers.

"You look at what Georges did at the end," Hoiberg said, "those last couple of minutes he was in there, we gave the ball to him and he just went out there made unbelievable basketball plays."

Niang averages 16.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and also likes to fire from deep — connecting on 43 of 137 3-ponters this season (just 31.4%).

Dustin Hogue, No. 22

6-6, 215, jr. forward

Kansas players Joel Embiid, left, and Perry Ellis defend against a shot from Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Joel Embiid, left, and Perry Ellis defend against a shot from Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 13 points, 3/10 FGs, 0/1 3s, 7/8 FTs, 9 rebounds (6 offensive).

— Jan. 29 at KU: 7 points, 2/5 FGs, 2/3 3s, 1/2 FTs, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers in 31 minutes.

This guy might be the most impressive rebounder in the country. Hogue is only 6-foot-6 but always seems to come up with the ball once it bounces off the rim. Oh, you're bigger than him? Doesn't matter. He's gonna get it.

Hogue joined Ejim in the double-double department vs. K-State, going for 19 points and 10 rebounds.

"Dustin Hogue, I thought, did everything today," his coach said. "He's always been a guy that's done the dirty work for this team, all throughout the year. He doesn't get the credit he deserves today, not only on the defensive end and rebounding, which he always does, but made some huge plays for us on offense."

Hogue hit 6 of his 8 shots Thursday. On the season, he averages 10.6 points and 8.6 boards.

Monté Morris, No. 11

6-2, 170, fr. guard

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins drives to the bucket between Iowa State players Monte Morris, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins drives to the bucket between Iowa State players Monte Morris, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 7 points, 1/5 FGs, 1/4 3s, 0/1 FTs, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 0 turnovers, 4 steals.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 4 points, 1/4 FGs, 0/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 0 turnovers in 35 minutes.

Morris consistently put teammates in position to make something happen against Kansas State, and he ended up dealing 10 assists, to go with five points and three steals.

"I thought he was great," Hoiberg told the media after the game. "He always does the right thing defensively, got some key deflections. We were having trouble getting stops unless we got a turnover and I thought he did a really good job of staying tight with (Will) Spradling. It's not an easy matchup. He moves so much and Monte, I thought, did a great job chasing him all over the floor. And 10 assists and one turnover, it's hard when you have an 8‑to‑1 assist‑to‑turnover ratio to increase that in a game. But to go out there and do that as a freshman in his first Big 12 tournament tells you all you need to know about that kid. He loves the big stage. He won back-to-back state championships in Michigan. He came out and played as poised a game as I think you can have as a freshman."

Morris averages 6.0 points this season, and has passed out 120 assists, compared to 21 turnovers, in 31 games.

ISU bench

Naz Long, No. 15

6-4, 205, so. guard

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins floats a shot over Iowa State guard Naz Long during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins floats a shot over Iowa State guard Naz Long during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 0 points, 0/2 FGs, 0/2 3s, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 16 minutes.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 0 points, 0/3 FGs, 0/2 3s, 1 turnover in 8 minutes.

Long has developed into ISU's best 3-point shooter, as he proved at the end of regulation against Oklahoma State last week, setting up an ISU overtime victory.

He drilled 2 of 3 from deep against K-State, and finished with 14 points.

On the year, Long has hit 53 3-pointers on 135 attempts (39.3%).

Matt Thomas, No. 21

6-3, 200, fr. guard

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 3 points, 1/5 FGs, 1/4 3s, 0/1 FTs, 2 rebounds, one assist, 3 blocks, 1 steal.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 6 points, 2/6 FGs, 2/6 3s, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 1 turnover and 2 blocks in 25 minutes.

A steady guard off the bench, Thomas averages 6.1 points, has made 43 of 127 3-ponters and has only turned the ball over 15 times all season.

He went scoreless against K-State in 10 minutes of action.

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One more time: Oklahoma State and Kansas tangle again

Both times Kansas and Oklahoma State met on the basketball court during the regular season, the Cowboys' guard-oriented attack gave the Jayhawks some trouble.

The first time around, KU held off a second-half OSU surge to earn an 80-78 win at Allen Fieldhouse.

In the rematch, the Jayhawks weren't as lucky, and lost, 72-65, at Gallagher-Iba Arena, in Stillwater, Okla.

Now comes Cowboys vs. Jayhawks, Part 3 — in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals at 2 p.m., at Sprint Center, in Kansas City, Mo.

One of the preseason Big 12 favorites is going home to regroup for the NCAAs. And it could be No. 10 Kansas (23-8) if the Cowboys (21-11) have their way.

OSU, after all, has won five of its last six games since Marcus Smart's return from his suspension, with its only loss coming in overtime at Iowa State — on the Cyclones' Senior Day.

Meanwhile, Kansas has lost two of its last three.

After Oklahoma State disposed of Texas Tech, 80-62, Wednesday night, coach Travis Ford uttered some words that should frighten any team that faces OSU from this point on: "I thought we ran our offense — for the first time — pretty complete for 40 minutes. We took good shots, we had good possessions."

That's right, the man in charge of this ultra-talented, if underachieving, group said Marcus Smart, Markel Brown, Le'Bryan Nash and Phil Forte had not run the offense full throttle until now.

Of course, Texas Tech (14-18) isn't Kansas. But think about it this way: a team that already has split with KU is just starting to get it. And Kansas doesn't have 7-foot freshman center Joel Embiid to protect the paint this time.

OSU plans to attack KU off the dribble to get points in the paint. And if that works, Nash pointed out, it could mean difficulties for Kansas on more than one front.

"They bench is shorter now," Nash said Wednesday night. "We get 'em in foul trouble, maybe it can work out for us."

On that note, here's a brief refresher on OSU's core six players.

Marcus Smart, No. 33

6-4, 220, so. guard

Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart celebrates before the Kansas bench as the Cowboys close out the game on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart celebrates before the Kansas bench as the Cowboys close out the game on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 at KU: 16 points, 3/14 FGs, 0/6 3s, 10/10 FTs, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals, 3 turnovers in 39 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 21 points, 5/14 FGs, 2/7 3s, 9/14 FTs, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers in 36 minutes.

Too strong to be slowed down by a foul, one of the nation's elite guards finishes through the contact he creates. Smart had a blast dismantling Texas Tech Wednesday night at the Sprint Center, where he made 6 of 10 shots, scored 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished seven assists and feasted on the Tech backcourt with six steals.

The Cowboys will go as far as Smart and Brown can take them in the next few weeks, and their first legit postseason test comes today, against Kansas.

Smart's season averages: 17.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.7 steals.

Markel Brown, No. 22

6-3, 190, sr. guard

Kansas players Joel Embiid and Jamari Traylor watch as Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown comes down from a dunk during the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas players Joel Embiid and Jamari Traylor watch as Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown comes down from a dunk during the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 15 points, 5/13 FGs, 5/9 3s, 0/0 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 5 fouls in 28 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 21 points, 4/7 FGs, 3/5 3s, 10/10 FTs, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers in 38 minutes.

The chemistry Brown has with Smart in the backcourt makes OSU's talented backcourt all the more difficult to handle. The two can make eye contact on the perimeter and the next thing you know, Brown is catching a lob above the rim for an alley-oop.

Brown will step on the floor today feeling good, because he went for 20 points and hit 3 of 6 3-pointers against Tech less than 24 hours earlier.

While Brown can burn you on the perimeter with his touch (38.6% on 3s), he will gladly drive by his man for a layup or slam, too.

He averages 17.3 points and 5.5 rebounds, plus 3.0 assists.

Le'Bryan Nash, No. 2

6-7, 235, jr. wing

Kansas guard Frank Mason tries to hook a pass around Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash during the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Frank Mason tries to hook a pass around Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash during the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 10 points, 5/11 FGs, 0/2 FTs, 5 rebounds (3 offensive), 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls in 22 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 16 points, 6/9 FGs, 4/5 FTs, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks, 2 turnovers in 33 minutes.

Le'Bryan "Slash" took a back seat to Smart and Brown most of the Big 12 Tournament opener, but still produced 10 points — mainly by getting to the foul line, where he went 6 of 7.

Like Smart and Brown, Nash is too quick and strong for many perimeter defenders to deal with. He averages 14.0 points and 5.6 rebounds, and makes 52.5% of his shots.

Phil Forte, No. 13

5-11, 185, so. guard

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe hoists a three over Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte during the first half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe hoists a three over Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte during the first half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 23 points, 7/11 FGs, 7/10 3s, 2/2 FTs, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 0 turnovers in 30 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 2 points, 1/6 FGs, 0/4 3s, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover in 39 minutes.

It's almost bizarre to think OSU defeated Kansas in Stillwater with Forte going 0-for-the-game from 3-point range and only scoring two points.

It appeared the sophomore sniper might end up having a similar night against Tech on Wednesday. Forte didn't hit a shot until the 15:43 mark of the second half. Not that it mattered. The sophomore guard's 91st three-pointer of the season put Tech's deficit at 51-32. And he went on to score 14 points on 4 of 9 3-point shooting.

The kind of 3-point marksman Kansas hopes Conner Frankamp can become, Forte has made 94 3-pointers this season on 208 attempts (45.2%). Seventy-six percent of his shots come from behind the arc.

Kamari Murphy, No. 21

6-8, 220, so. post

Kansas center Joel Embiid and Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy tangle for position during the first half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas center Joel Embiid and Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy tangle for position during the first half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 12 points, 5/10 FGs, 2/2 FTs, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 4 fouls, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2 blocks in 38 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 8 points, 3/8 FGs, 2/2 FTs, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1 turnover and 5 fouls in 30 minutes.

Even with Embiid playing, Murphy enjoyed more success against Kansas than he has, on average, this season.

If KU help defenders come over to cut off drives by Smart, Brown and Nash, Murphy figures to benefit with open looks at the rim.

He averages 6.0 points and 6.2 rebounds this season, and leads OSU with 40 blocked shots (five more than Brown).

Murphy only scored two points and had one rebound against Tech, and he picked up four fouls in 14 minutes.

OSU bench

Brian Williams, No. 4

6-5, 210, jr. wing

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 2 points, 1/5 FGs, 0/1 3s, 3 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steal in 21 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 4 points, 1/2 FGs, 2/2 FTs, 3 steals and 1 turnover in 11 minutes.

Williams scored five of his six points against Tech in the first half, and went 4 for 5 at the foul line in OSU's easy win.

On the year, he averages 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds.

Note: Fellow backup Leyton Hammonds gave OSU its first points of the game Wednesday night against Texas Tech, with a 3-pointer, after the Pokes fell behind, 8-0, prior to the first media timeout. Hamonds had gone scoreless in OSU's three previous games in limited minutes.

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Bill Self looking forward to Big 12 Tournament

The regular season is over, and the postseason begins Thursday for Kansas University's men's basketball team.

Coach Bill Self doesn't yet know whether his Jayhawks (23-8 overall, 14-4 Big 12) will face Oklahoma State or Texas Tech in their Big 12 Championship opener in the Kansa City, Mo. — those two teams play in the opening round Wednesday — but he was ready to talk about the postseason Monday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse.

KU has lost two of its last three games, and freshman center Joel Embiid's availability at the Big 12 Tournament remains up in the air due to his back issues, making the next week even more intriguing.

Here are some of the highlights from Self's press conference, in bullet-point form:

• Self doesn't see a scenario where Joel Embiid doesn't play in the postseason. He does see a scenario where Embiid might not be able to play in the Big 12 Tournament, though. … Embiid is a lot better, symptom-wise, than he was a week ago. If the doctors say it is fine to play him this weekend, they will. Playing three games in three days at Kansas City, Mo., could be challenging for Embiid, too. Rather than manage minutes, Self would rather have him more rested for the NCAAs if that's what is best for the freshman big man.

• Self's first year here, Keith Langford hurt his knee and didn't practice the last few weeks of the season. The next year Wayne Simien had a similar situation. This isn't new territory for Self. Still, no one on the coaching staff is an expert on how to bring Embiid along. They will rely on what the doctors say. … Embiid is pain-free now, but that could change if he took a hit or bump at practice or in a game. … Embiid about "threw a fit" the last time they told him he couldn't play against TCU. He wanted to play.

• Oklahoma State is the No. 8 seed in the Big 12 Tournament — that shows how tough the league is. KU could play the Cowboys Thursday. That's good for KU. Self would like to face a real quality opponent.

• After losing at West Virginia Saturday, Self wants to see KU play tougher. The Jayhawks need to have more pride in guarding the ball, and keeping guys from getting to the rim.

• On Kansas point guards: Frank Mason and Naadir Tharpe, as well as Conner Frankamp, are the guys in charge of making sure KU plays well. But, really, it's on Tharpe to make that happen more than anybody else. KU needs its guard play to be sound, and they need to be a little more aggressive on both ends of the floor than they were at WVU.

• Big 12 awards turned out about the way Self thought. He has never understood, though, why voters are able to cast votes before the regular season is over. … Self thought Iowa State's Melvin Ejim deserved Player of the Year. Andrew Wiggins could've and should've been right there. … Self thought Rick Barnes deserved the Coach of the Year, but Lon Kruger deserved it, too.

• Big 12 Tournaments have always been competitive. But this year, regardless of what seeds end up in the championship game, it shouldn't surprise anybody. No. 8 seed OSU was picked to win the league before the season began. "It's gonna be a pretty special weekend."

• The last time KU played OSU, the Jayhawks lost. The guys should be excited to play the Cowboys again, considering they got outplayed at OSU.

• On playing away from Allen Fieldhouse: He wishes the W-L record was better (5-6 away, 4-1 neutral) but the competition had a lot to do with it. Villanova (lone neutral site loss, at the Bahamas) could be a No. 1 seed.

• Wiggins keeps getting better. He was fantastic, not just because of 41 points at WVU, but because of his energy level. Wiggins has proven he can take over. Self told Wiggins yesterday he needs to play at the level he has proven he is capable of. … With KU playing form behind, there was no margin for error, but the basket does get bigger. You can't make too much of the comeback because of that.

• On playing a junk zone defense, such as a triangle-and-two: Situations and personnel on the other team determine when they do that. KU hasn't done it much this year. Kansas should be able to stop people, even without Embiid on the floor.

• On the possibility of being in the same bracket as Wichita State: Self would welcome whatever bracket the Jayhawks end up in. It doesn't matter who the other top seeds are in that region. They want to play the other top seeds, regardless of who they are.

• Playing well this weekend is the key. A No. 1 seed could still be in play if KU wins the Big 12 Championship. … Regardless of what sites KU gets in the NCAA Tournament, Kansas fans will travel well.

• Perry Ellis needs to play well defensively for KU to have its best chance. But he is capable.

— Listen to the complete press conference: Bill Self on dealing with Embiid's back issues, Big 12 Championship

After Self's session, KU sophomore power forward Perry Ellis came out to answer questions from the media.

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Getting reacquainted with West Virginia

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins stews on a stool during a stretch of bad play by the Mountaineers in the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins stews on a stool during a stretch of bad play by the Mountaineers in the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

West Virginia men's basketball coach Bob Huggins rarely appears overjoyed on the sideline (see above photo).

But he might crack a smile for a split-second if the Mountaineers (16-14 overall, 8-9 Big 12) could figure out a way to knock off No. 8 Kansas (23-7, 14-3) in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Keeping Huggins perpetually cantankerous these days, WVU has lost five of its last seven games, including an 83-69 defeat at the hands of Kansas on Feb. 8.

Here's a look at WVU's schedule since then:

-Feb. 10 — W vs Iowa State, 102-77

-Feb. 15 — L at Texas, 88-71

-Feb. 22 — L vs Baylor, 88-75

-Feb. 26 — L at Iowa State, 83-66

-March 1 — W vs TCU, 81-59

-March 5 — L at Oklahoma, 72-62

Defensive breakdowns have cost the Mountaineers, who give up a Big 12-worst 77.6 points a game in conference action and have allowed Big 12 opponents to hit 47.5% of their shots — also last in the league. They aren't much better at defending behind the 3-point line, either. Big 12 opponents have mad 36.6% of their tries.

When West Virginia has managed to hold opponents 70 points, it is a perfect 10-0 this season.

Its WVU's offense that keeps this team competitive. In Big 12 games, the Mountaineers are:

-1st in turnover margin (+3.0 a game)

-2nd in free throw percentage (74%, behind only Oklahoma's 76.8%)

-2nd in 3-point field goal percentage (37.1%, slightly behind OU's 37.7%)

-2nd in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.27, behind Iowa State's 1.69)

-3rd in 3-point field goals made (7.59 a game)

Additionally, the Mountaineers give themselves a much better chance when they are scoring inside. They are 16-5 this season when producing 20 or more points in the paint. And 0-9 when they don't hit the 20-point mark.

It wouldn't be a first if Huggins' crew is able to pull off an upset victory over Kansas. Now in his seventh season at WVU, his teams have defeated 22 ranked teams, and eight of those victories came against top-10 opponents.

Before we get reacquainted with the players who will attempt to knock off the Big 12 champion Jayhawks at 11 a.m. Saturday at WVU Coliseum, watch this interview with Huggins about the matchup:

Juwan Staten, No. 3

6-1, 190, jr. guard

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends as West Virginia guard Juwan Staten puts up a shot during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends as West Virginia guard Juwan Staten puts up a shot during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 22 points, 7/12 FGs, 8/10 FTs, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 4 turnovers in 39 minutes

A don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-him guard who could be an All-Big 12 First team selection when postseason awards are announced on Sunday, Staten averages a league-leading 19.7 points in Big 12 games.

The Bob Cousy Award finalist averages 18.2 points and 5.9 rebounds a game on the season, and a team-leading 5.8 assists.

Too fast for most defenders to keep him in front of them, Staten has attempted 7.3 free throws a game this year and has made 73.1% of them.

He has only made 5 of 14 3-pointers all season and didn't attempt one against Kansas in the first meeting.

Eron Harris, No. 10

6-3, 195, so. guard

West Virginia guard Eron Harris pumps his fist after hitting a three against the Jayhawks during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

West Virginia guard Eron Harris pumps his fist after hitting a three against the Jayhawks during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 17 points, 3/10 FGs, 3/9 3s, 8/8 FTs, 6 rebounds, 3 assits, 1 steal, 4 turnovers, 1 block in 39 minutes

After a hot first half at KU, Harris only scored four in the second, once Kansas began defending him with Andrew Wiggins.

The leading free-throw shooter in Big 12 games (92.8% on 69 attempts), like Staten, enjoys creating havoc off the dribble.

Unlike Staten, Harris (17.6 points a game) is a serious threat from 3-point range. He has knocked down 81 this season on 194 attempts (41.8%, third in the Big 12).

Among Big 12 players, only Phil Forte of Oklahoma State (88) and Brady Heslip of Baylor (95) have made more 3-pointers than Harris, who is tied for third in that category with Buddy Hield of Oklahoma.

Devin Williams, No. 5

6-9, 255, fr. forward

Kansas center Joel Embiid swats away a shot from West Virginia forward Devin Williams during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid swats away a shot from West Virginia forward Devin Williams during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 4 points, 1/4 FGs, 2/4 FTs, 6 rebounds, 1 turnover, 5 fouls in 12 minutes.

The big man just couldn't figure out a way to stay on the floor at Kansas. Williams fouled out while playing just 12 minutes.

Clearly, WVU needs him on the court. He grabbed six rebounds during his cameo in Lawrence.

He'll have one less post threat to worry about this time, with Joel Embiid resting his strained back, so Williams should have an easier time producing near his season averages of 8.3 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Williams enters the game coming off back-to-back double-doubles, with 10 points and 10 boards against TCU and 14 points and 12 boards against Oklahoma.

Rémi Dibo, No. 0

6-7, 225, jr. forward

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 7 points, 2/9 FGs, 1/7 3s, 2/2 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 4 fouls in 17 minutes

Dibo forced some bad shots at KU, but he still produced close to his season averages of 7.4 points and 3.3 rebounds.

His past two games have gone much worse for him, though. Dibo combined to go 2-for-13 against TCU and Oklahoma, scoring two points in each contest and missing all six of his 3-pointers.

On the season, he has made 39.5% of his 3's (fourth in the Big 12) and totaled 49 makes (seventh in the Big 12).

Nathan Adrian, No. 11

6-9, 230, fr. forward

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 3 points, 1/3 FGs, 1/3 3s, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 4 fouls in 18 minutes

The freshman big came off the bench when WVU played at Kansas, but he is a starter now due to an illness that has kept Terry Henderson off the floor.

Adrian only averages 5.6 points and 2.9 rebounds on the season, but he scored 14 points and pulled down six rebounds against TCU before going scoreless at OU with two boards.

More of an outside shooter than a guy who likes to post up, the 6-foot-9 freshman has made 37 of 102 3-pointers.

West Virginia bench

Gary Browne, No. 14

6-1, 195, jr. guard

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 5 points, 1/3 FGs, 1/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in 23 minutes

He only scores 6.1 points a game, but he is the most experienced player on the roster, having appeared in 94 career games.

Browne is capable of more than his average shows, too. He has 21 double-figure scoring games in his career, with six coming this season.

He went 2 for 3 from 3-point range and scored 12 points in WVU's loss at OU this week.

Terry Henderson, No. 15

6-4, 200, so. guard

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 2 points, 0/3 FGs, 0/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 3 turnovers in 22 minutes.

Huggins said in an interview this week he doesn't know how much the team can expect out of Henderson — the team's third-leading scorer this season — against Kansas.

Since KU limited the sophomore guard at Allen Fieldhouse, he has battled an illness that kept him out of the past four WVU games.

If Henderson can go, Kansas will have another WVU perimeter weapon to worry about. The sophomore guard averages 12.1 points on the season and has made 42 of 113 3-pointers (37.2%).

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Getting reacquainted with Texas Tech

First-year Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith pleads with a game official during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

First-year Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith pleads with a game official during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

Tubby Smith's Texas Tech men's basketball team nearly had one of the upsets of the 2013-14 season on Feb. 18, at Lubbock, Texas.

That was before Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins scored the winning basket of a 64-63 victory with just more than a second to go.

Both Wiggins and center Joel Embiid turned out to be fortunate freshmen in the final minute, and the Red Raiders lost their second game of what is now a five-game skid, entering tonight's rematch at Allen Fieldhouse vs. the No. 8 Jayhawks (22-7 overall, 13-3 Big 12).

Texas Tech (13-16) is just 5-11 in the Big 12, but as anyone who watched the Red Raiders nearly knock off KU could attest to, they are far more competitive this season under first-year coach Smith. In their 11 conference defeats, they've lost by an average margin of 7.4 points. Last season, Tech dropped 15 Big 12 games by an average of 21.4 points.

Tech does a few things well, and most of its success comes due to a commitment to playing at a methodical pace, which limits possessions and chances for its opponents. In Big 12 games, the Red Raiders are:

• 1st in scoring defense (68.1 points allowed)

• 1st in rebounding defense (opponents grab 29.0 a game)

• 2nd in 3-point field goal percentage (30.64%, percentage points behind Kansas State's 30.56%)

• 3rd in field goal percentage (44.4%)

• 4th in rebounding margin (+2.0)

While Tech is just 6th in Big 12 games in the category of offensive rebounds (11.0 a contest), the number is deceiving because the Red Raiders play at a slower pace, so there are fewer shots taken — and therefore fewer rebounds available — in their games than in those played between other Big 12 teams.

In conference games, 35.5% of Tech's 31.0 rebounds a game come on offense.

Against Kansas, the Red Raiders earned just more than half of their 25 rebounds on the offensive glass (13, compared to 12 defensive boards), leading to 14 second-chance points for Tech.

That glass work has helped Tech become one of the more prolific teams in the nation at scoring inside the 3-point line. The Red Raiders score 58.3 percent of their points on 2-point field goals — 18th in the country.

Just one Red Raider consistently takes and makes a high volume of 3-pointers, and he comes off the bench. On that note, let's get reacquainted with Texas Tech.

Jaye Crockett, No. 30

6-7, 210, sr. forward

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a shot from Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett late in the game on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a shot from Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett late in the game on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 10 points, 3/11 FGs, 2/3 3s, 2/3 FTs, 5 rebounds (3 offensive), 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers in 26 minutes.

A huge chunk of Tech's inside-the-arc offense comes from its leading scorer. Crockett averages 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds, and has made 51.2% of his shots this season.

The senior forward will take some bombs from beyond the arc — 18-for-56, 32.1% — but he does much more damage inside of it. On 2-point shot attempts, he makes 55.6%.

However, Crockett's production has dropped off the past three games, as he has battled tendinitis in both knees.

Since scoring 10 against Kansas, he had six points in 26 minutes at Oklahoma State, 8 points in 32 minutes vs. Kansas State and 1 point in 18 minutes at Baylor.

Not a good sign.

Jordan Tolbert, No. 32

6-7, 225, jr. forward

Kansas players Joel Embiid and Jamari Traylor defend a shot from Texas Tech forward Jordan Tolbert during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas players Joel Embiid and Jamari Traylor defend a shot from Texas Tech forward Jordan Tolbert during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 16 points, 7/10 FGs, 0/1 3s, 2/2 FTs, 6 rebounds (4 offensive), 2 steals, 2 turnovers.

Now 20 points shy of 1,000 for his career, the junior averages 10.9 points and 6.0 rebounds this season. He has started five games against Kansas during between his freshman season and now, and averages 10.6 points against the Jayhawks.

Like Crockett, Tolbert scores efficiently inside the arc. A 55.6% shooter from the floor overall, he is one of the more experienced players in the Big 12 and has converted 60% of his 2-point attempts.

In his past two games, though, Crockett has made just three of his 12 field-goal attempts, and is averaging 7.5 points a game, scoring 66.6% of his points at the free-throw line.

Robert Turner, No. 14

6-3, 180, jr. guard

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 11 points, 4/7 FGs, 1/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers.

A junior college transfer, Turner leads Tech with 77 assists this season.

He averages 9.6 points and 2.7 assists, and is tied for the second-most 3-pointers attempted on the team. From distance, Turner has hit 22 of his 72 tries (30.6%). In his last 12 Big 12 games, he has only hit more than one 3-pointer on one occasion. In that stretch, he is 7-for-26 (26.9).

Turner made 6 of 7 2-point attempts at Baylor his last time out, and is a 41.1% shooter overall this year.

His 40 steals lead Tech.

Toddrick Gotcher, No. 20

6-4, 200, so. guard

Texas Tech guard Toddrick Gotcher explodes after a three by the Red Raiders during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Texas Tech guard Toddrick Gotcher explodes after a three by the Red Raiders during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 0 points, 0/0 FGs, 0/4 FTs, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover in 21 minutes.

At different times this season, he has played all three positions on the perimeter, and averages 7.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

Gotcher has averaged 9.0 points a game in his past three, since getting shut out vs. Kansas.

Like Turner, he has hoisted 72 3-pointers. Gotcher has found a little more success, making 24 (33.3%).

From the floor, he has made 40.5% of his field goal attempts.

Dejan Kravic, No. 11

7-0, 235, sr. forward

Texas Tech forward Dejan Kravic extends an arm in the face of a shot by Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Texas Tech forward Dejan Kravic extends an arm in the face of a shot by Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 13 points, 6/8 FGs, 1/1 FTs, 3 rebounds, 4 fouls, 1 turnover in 23 minutes.

The big man, as you might assume, basically lives inside the arc offensively. He has only tried a pair of 3-pointers this season. His field-goal percentage is 49.7% for the year and 51.7% in Big 12 action.

Kravic averages 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds on the season.

His 37 blocked shots lead the Red Raiders.

Texas Tech bench

Dusty Hannahs, No. 2

6-4, 210, so. guard

Kansas guard Conner Frankamp heads out of bounds as Texas Tech guard Dusty Hannahs tries to save the ball during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Conner Frankamp heads out of bounds as Texas Tech guard Dusty Hannahs tries to save the ball during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 10 points, 3/9 FGs, 2/5 3s, 2/2 FTs, 4 rebounds (2 offensive), 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover in 30 minutes.

The backup guard is Tech's gunner. He has hit 40 of 104 3-pointers on the season (38.5%), while making 25 of 61 in Big 12 games (41%).

Hannahs averages 8.3 points a game, and as a 91.8% free-throw shooter is on pace to be Tech's all-time single-season leader in that category. He averages 2.1 free-throw makes a game in 22.5 minutes this season. In Big 12 play, he had nailed 33 of 35 (94.3%).

Box score: Kansas 64, Texas Tech 63

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