Entries from blogs tagged with “Tale of the Tait”

1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-WVU II

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) pulls a rebound from West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate (50) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) pulls a rebound from West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate (50) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

West Virginia dared Udoka Azubuike to make a play, and it was exactly what he did — three times, no less. Today’s 1-3-1 blog explains just how the big man came through on defense in KU's 77-69 win over West Virginia, plus a pair of plays that show how the Mountaineers may have taken their foot off the gas late. If you have any plays or sequences you’d like to see GIFed please tweet @ChasenScott or comment below.

Previous breakdowns can also be found at the bottom of this story.


Play of the game: ‘We attacked them’ —

If you’re like me, when you watch a game there’s usually a play or two that — for whatever reason — feel exponentially bigger than they actually are.

That play, to me, came at the 4:23 mark in the second half. KU was still behind by six when it began and five when it ended, but when I saw it, I couldn’t help but think back to the words spoken by the Jayhawks following their comeback win in Morgantown.

“I told the guys that I felt like they had kind of relaxed and taken their foot off the pedal,” Devonte’ Graham said at the time. “So we attacked them.”

Let’s go to the film.

via GIPHY

This play started with a mishap, as Graham hit the floor on the defensive end of the court and was late getting down the floor. West Virginia doubled Lagerald Vick as he brought the ball up, but Vick was able to get the ball to a wide-open Graham as he joined the Jayhawks on offense.

The defense had to rotate and Graham swung the ball to Malik Newman. Newman's open 3-pointer was just off the mark.

As Newman’s shot went up, Svi Mykhailiuk watched for about a half-second and then sprinted toward the rim. He jumped up from one side of the restricted area and caught the ball with one hand on the other. West Virginia had four players in the paint during that time.

Mykhailiuk was instantly swarmed by Jevon Carter, one of the top defenders in the nation, yet he kept his composure, took what the defense was giving him — in this case, the baseline — and then found Vick. The play resulted in a foul and free throws, of which Vick made one.

Oh, and the Jayhawks went on a 17-0 run starting on the next trip down the floor. Try telling me that was a coincidence.


A trend: Udoka the defensive back? —

For those that don’t know, a cross screen is an action that can occur by the basket. Two players — usually forwards — will stand on either side of the paint. One will set a screen, almost always directly in front of the hoop, while the other runs from one block to the other.

The action isn’t especially hard to defend and can usually be switched, but when dealing with two players as dramatically different as, say, 7-foot, 280-pound Udoka Azubuike and 6-5 180-pound Marcus Garrett, switching isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do. It'll create a pretty drastic mismatch.

West Virginia went to the action early and often against Kansas, but Azubuike almost singlehandedly disrupted it.

via GIPHY

On one instance, just less than seven minutes into the game, Daxter Miles came off a cross screen from Sagaba Konate. Azubuike and Garrett switched, but Azubuike knew Garrett wouldn’t be able to handle the bigger Konate straight up.

As the pass came in, Azubuike jumped across the paint, grabbed the ball like a defensive back and was fouled.

“What an alert play by Udoka Azubuike,” said announcer Jay Bilas on the call for ESPN. “Playing the ball instead of playing his man.”

There was plenty more to come.

The next time the Mountaineers tried this play, they actually tried to disguise it a little better. Miles first faked like he was going to come off the screen and then faded back to the corner. Garrett, who was in good position to fight through the screen the first time, relaxed, and Miles sprung into action, coming off the screen and again forcing a switch.

via GIPHY

This time, Miles kept running out to the corner with the hope of keeping Azubuike from being able to help on Konate, but Azubuike didn’t bite, reading the play the whole way and jumping to knock the ball out of bounds.

Oh, and he did it in the clutch, too.

Arguably the biggest defensive play of the game for KU came with about 25 seconds left. Miles, who had already hit six 3-pointers was wide open for 3, but he instead opted to sling a pass in toward Esa Ahmad in the paint.

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Don’t get me wrong. This was an extremely ill advised pass, and one that should have never been made. However, Azubuike still had to have the awareness to come off Konate and knock the ball away to Graham.

And hey, if the whole basketball thing doesn’t work out, Azubuike could try his hand at another sport. After all, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid was watching in the stands. Maybe he could use an oversized free safety.


One that stood out: ‘Booooring’ —

If you go to enough high school games you’ll hear the same chant over and over when teams try to run down the clock and hold for the last shot of a quarter.

“Boooo-ring. Boooo-ring. Boooo-ring. Boooo-ring. Boooo-ring.”

Up by 10 in the second half, West Virginia employed a similar strategy on Saturday. The surprising thing was how early it started.

via GIPHY

“Even when they were on offense, I felt like they were just holding the ball,” said Garrett. “I was very surprised when they were just holding it.”

With more than 8-and-a-half minutes to play, Carter was content to dribble out the clock. He waited until there were nine seconds left on the shot clock to even call for a screen. He started making his move with seven seconds left.

The eventual shot missed, but the Mountaineers got the rebound. Carter called for the ball and then dribbled back toward the top of the key, content to take 20 more seconds off the clock.

“I don’t know what the thinking was,” said KU coach Bill Self. “But I do think when you’re down double figures and the other team’s going to use 25-30 seconds every shot clock and they get 40 percent of their misses back, you would think you’re not going to have that many opportunities to come back.”

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins explained the thinking after the game, saying he told his team to take care of the ball — unlike the last meeting between the two teams in Allen Fieldhouse. He wasn’t totally on board with how things worked out, though, asking himself a rhetorical question to cement his point.

“Did i want them to run it down to nine seconds on the clock?” said an agitated Huggins after the game. “No.”


1-3-1 breakdown: KU 83, ISU 77

1-3-1 breakdown: Baylor 80, KU 64

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 71, TCU 64

1-3-1 breakdown: OSU 84, KU 79

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, K-State 56

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 79, TAMU 68

1-3-1 breakdown: OU 85, KU 80

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, Baylor 67

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Postgame Report Card: Kansas 77, West Virginia 69

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for position with West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate (50) and West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for position with West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate (50) and West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of KU’s 77-69, comeback victory over West Virginia on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: A-

There was really nothing to not like about KU's offensive effort. Maybe Svi didn't take enough shots (3-of-6). Maybe Devonte' Graham didn't make enough (2-of-6). But overall, Ku shot 47 perent from the floor, 32 percent from 3-point range, turned it over just eight times and, oh yeah, won the game. Doing all of that against a tough, defensive minded team like West Virginia brings this into the A range on the curve.

Defense: B+

I thought KU's effort was there all game on the defensive end. At times, the Mountaineers just made a bunch of tough shots. Particularly senior guard Daxter Miles Jr. The Jayhawks' defense was at its best when the game was on the line and that's good enough to make this a solid B for me. Give them the plus for again coming within three rebounds of playing even with WVU in that area, as well.

Frontcourt: A-

Udoka Azubuike was a beast and played with great effort and energy for most of the night. He even hit his free throws and avoided the bad fouls that have plagued him at times this season. Azubuike also gets credit for playing 31 minutes on a night when KU needed him out there for every one of them. Mitch Lightfoot played just nine minutes and had very little to show for it on an off night for the KU back-up.

Backcourt: A

Graham may not have shot as much as some would have liked or expected, but he still finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Sheesh. Lagerald Vick had a great first half from an effort and intangible standpoint. Malik Newman had a good finish and a couple of important minutes in the middle. And Marcus Garrett played a terrific first half. Only Svi Mykhailiuk failed to stand out, and even at that the senior hit half of his shots and added four rebounds, four assists and three steals in 37 minutes. If you had a problem with the KU backcourt in this one, I'm not sure what to tell you.

Bench: B-

As mentioned above, Garrett's first half was terrific. He played tough, scored points inside and out and even handled the role of being the point man in bringing the ball up the floor on a handful of occasions. He played sparingly in the second half, though, and Lightfoot had an off night. So this one's a low B, mostly due to lack of material to grade.

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1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-ISU II

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) swoops in for a bucket against Iowa State forward Cameron Lard (2) during the second half, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) swoops in for a bucket against Iowa State forward Cameron Lard (2) during the second half, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Lagerald Vick's best play on Tuesday didn't even show up on the stat sheet. Today’s 1-3-1 blog explains just how the junior guard got some of his mojo back in KU's 83-77 win in Hilton Coliseum, plus what Marcus Garrett did against Iowa State to excite KU coach Bill Self. If you have any plays or sequences you’d like to see GIFed please tweet @ChasenScott or comment below.

Previous breakdowns can also be found at the bottom of this story.


Play of the game: Just get a stop —

In the midst of a late-game meltdown-that-wasn't-really-a-meltdown that prompted KU coach Bill Self to say his team played like it had never been coached, the Jayhawks were still firmly in control of Iowa State.

Despite missing the front ends of two one-and-ones — and fouling twice the other way — KU led by five with less than 20 seconds remaining. The Jayhawks were a stop away from essentially putting the game on ice.

Here's how the ensuing sequence went down.

via GIPHY

Lindell Wigginton dribbled down the court and was picked up by Devonte' Graham. With no Iowa State players in the paint — and thus no KU players guarding them there — there wasn't any back-side help, so Graham had to keep Wigginton in front of him, something that has been a problem for KU guards this year.

Unable to get by Graham, Wigginton passed the ball off to Donovan Jackson, who popped off a Cameron Lard screen at the top of the key. Mitch Lightfoot switched onto Jackson, and Lard pulled Lagerald Vick away to make sure he couldn't help.

It was down to a one-on-one matchup and Lightfoot came out on top.

Lightfoot, who most likely played late-game because of his free throw shooting (82.4 percent on the year) as compared to Udoka Azubuike (41.7), stayed on his toes, bouncing around and taking a small hop back as Jackson faked like he was going to drive.

Jackson stepped back and pulled up for a 3. Lightfoot contested the shot, forcing him into an airball that was rebounded by Lagerald Vick, who passed it right out to Graham.

The Jayhawks were far from perfect in their late-game execution, but on the final sequence, just about everything worked to perfection. And considering some of the woes they've had this season, it certainly was a step in the right direction.


A trend: Bouncing back —

Vick's skid since the start of Big 12 play had been anything but under-the-radar. Yet the junior started to show signs of life against Iowa State that should give fans reason to be optimistic moving forward.

Vick, whose activity level on the court drew criticism from Self — and cost him a spot in the starting lineup — made one of the biggest plays of Tuesday's game being exactly that: active.

via GIPHY

With right around seven minutes left and KU up seven, Azubuike blocked a shot by Lard, but the ball bounced right to Wigginton. As the ball slid through Wigginton's hands, Vick pounced, breaking away from his box out of Zoran Talley Jr. and getting the tie up.

And what better way to follow up that play than with another on the other end?

The very next trip down the court, Graham dribbled the ball to his left and passed it off to Vick. Vick, who Self said earlier in the season should exploit mismatches and drive more, turned the corner on Nick Weiler-Babb and exploded to the rim, finishing with a tough lay in over Lard.

via GIPHY

While there were plenty of plays to choose from, the final one I've highlighted wasn't as flashy as a basket — or even a jump ball. It was simply the effort that Self has demanded of him all season.

With Weiler-Babb pushing the ball up the court in transition, the KU defense wasn't properly matched up. KU's wings were in the right spots, but Graham wasn't in great position and Lightfoot had to slide over to defend a potential shot at the rim.

With Vick's man, Soloman Young, still well beyond the 3-point line, Vick didn't have any guarding responsibilities. So as Weiler-Babb drove toward the hoop, Vick dropped down from the 3-point line and jumped to rebound the ball — above the rim, the way Self wants.

via GIPHY

Vick, who scored 16 points on the day, didn't get the board, but he kept Lard from hauling it in cleanly. The ball ended up in the hands of Malik Newman, and KU took it the other way.

Self was more complimentary of Vick's effort after the game, but he stopped short from a ringing endorsement.

"I actually thought they tried to guard," Self said of Vick and Newman, "and their energy level was better."

Regardless, Vick's play was a welcome sign to KU fans — and at least one former player, too.

"Guys are starting to play better," said guard Sherron Collins, whose jersey will be retired in Allen Fieldhouse next week. "Vick is coming back. He's coming along."


One that stood out: 'A play ... that nobody's made all year' —

Speaking of things that don't show up in the stat sheet, Marcus Garrett is the perfect example of a player who may not post big numbers, but can make a big difference on the court. The Iowa State game was in fact a perfect representation of that idea.

Garrett had only three points, one rebound and one assist against the Cyclones, yet he had a plus/minus of +18, more than three times as high as any other KU player.

(A score of +18 given the final score means the Jayhawks outscored their opponents by 18 points when he was on the floor and were outscored by 12 points when he was off it.)

"He made a play the other night that nobody's made all year," Self said, "nobody's made all year for us."

That play — coming late in the first half — showcased Garrett's high IQ.

Garrett was guarding Jackson on the perimeter. Jackson lobbed the ball to Lard (listed 6-9, 225 pounds) in the post, who started to back down the smaller Lightfoot (listed 6-8, 210).

via GIPHY

"(Garrett is) guarding a good offensive player, but he knows exactly how far he should dive," Self said. "He waited for him to bounce it, took it on the first bounce or second bounce."

Garrett watched the ball the whole way and swooped in and made a play on the ball. He wasn't finished, though, sprinting down to the other end of the court in transition in a sequence that eventually led to a Newman 3-pointer.

“He’s not scoring 25 points or getting 10 rebounds or anything like that,” said Graham. “Just the little plays.”

Not bad for a freshman.


1-3-1 breakdown: Baylor 80, KU 64

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 71, TCU 64

1-3-1 breakdown: OSU 84, KU 79

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, K-State 56

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 79, TAMU 68

1-3-1 breakdown: OU 85, KU 80

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, Baylor 67

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Jayhawks check in on Romeo Langford on Valentine’s Day

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

According to multiple reports, Kansas coaches Bill Self and Jerrance Howard spent part of their Valentine's Day on Wednesday visiting Romeo — Romeo Langford, that is.

Langford, the top remaining uncommitted prospect in the 2018 class, and one of the top targets on Kansas' wish list for months, is down to KU, Indiana and Vanderbilt and is in the process of making another round of check-ins with all three schools.

A product of New Albany, Indiana, Langford, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard and dynamic scorer who is enjoying a monster senior season, has had plenty of opportunities to visit Indiana and continues to be wooed by both the IU basketball program and thousands of people in his home state on an almost-daily basis.

Think of the legend of the Indiana high school basketball player who can do no wrong and is a hero to everyone in the state, in the biggest cities and smallest farms, and that's pretty much the life Langford leads right now.

But just because the Hoosiers have the home-court advantage does not mean the Jayhawks or Commodores are out of it and that's why all three schools continue their pursuit of the prized recruit as hard as they ever have.

For Kansas, adding Langford to an already stellar class, which currently ranks No. 3 in the nation according to Rivals.com, would position the 2018 crew to be considered the best in the country and, arguably, the best Self and company have ever hauled in at KU.

With guards Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes, big men Silvio De Sousa and David McCormack and Kansas City-area wing Ochai Agbaji already on board, adding Langford would put this group over the top, bringing the necessary added scoring and outside shooting that the Jayhawks need in the class.

Langford's father, Tim, recently spoke about all three of his son's finalists with Adam Zagoria, of zagsblog.com, and it's clear that playing alongside Dotson and Grimes would not be a problem for Langford, who knows both players very well.

“We like Coach Self as a coach and we also like the program,” Tim Langford told Zagoria. “We like their staff. He already mentioned that they were going to try to get those two guys (Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes), they finally got Grimes. He was talking about doing a three-way offense for his guards and having Romeo, Grimes and Dotson take the ball up and down the court, so we don’t see any problem with that.”

Here's a quick look at Tim Langford's latest thoughts on Romeo's other two finalists:

On Indiana:

“Well, first of all he’s homegrown and making history by staying at home and going to IU. And also we like the style of offense that Archie Miller has. They brought the one they had from Dayton, he brought that to Indiana. So we like that, but we still want to see a bit more and also get to know the coaching staff a little bit more, too.”

Vanderbilt:

“Coach (Bryce) Drew, for one, played NBA ball for five or six years and his style of offense, Romeo can see himself fitting in that style of offense. But we like that program and the coaching staff also."

According to Zagoria, Langford is expected to visit Vanderbilt this weekend for Vandy's home game against Florida.

There remains no known timeline for a Romeo Langford decision. It's possible it could come before the April signing period arrives — perhaps at the McDonald's All-American Game in late March — or even sometime sooner.

In the meantime, there's no doubt that Langford and his family will continue to kick the tires on every aspect of each program and that coaches from all three will continue to recruit Langford like he is the player that could put them over the top.

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KU Sports Extra: All Hands on Deck in Ames

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Postgame Report Card: Kansas 83, Iowa State 77

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) puts up a shot after a foul from Iowa State guard Donovan Jackson (4) during the first half, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) puts up a shot after a foul from Iowa State guard Donovan Jackson (4) during the first half, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of KU’s 83-77 road win at Iowa State on Tuesday night.

Offense: A

The Kansas offense scored more than 80 points for the first time since Jan. 9 — the last time the Jayhawks played Iowa State — and shot 48.4 percent from the floor while bouncing back from last weekend's 6-of-31 shooting performance from 3-point range with a 9-of-26 night that included some clutch shots from a couple of key players.

Defense: B

The Jayhawks weren't necessarily terrific defensively but a lot of their good offense was fueled by stops on the defensive end and they did limit the Cyclones to 18.8 percent shooting from 3-point range for the game while making it incredibly hard on guards Donovan Jackson (3 points on 1-of-9 shooting) and Lindell Wigginton (12, 3-of-12) for most of the night. Kansas was out-rebounded 40-31.

Frontcourt: A

Udoka Azubuike was an absolute monster, scoring 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting and carrying the Kansas offense at times. He also blocked three shots and committed just one bad foul, an improvement upon recent games. During the minutes they were on the floor, Mitch Lightfoot and even Silvio De Sousa also did a decent job of holding down the fort for Azubuike, even if it wasn't always pretty. Give most of the grade here to Azubuike, though. He was big and Kansas needs more of that moving forward.

Backcourt: A-

Rare is the game where Lagerald Vick and Malik Newman were more productive, efficient and clutch than seniors Devonte' Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, but that's what we got on Tuesday night. Add to that the fact that Self said some of KU's best basketball came with guard Marcus Garrett on the floor and this one just barely creeps into the A range, mostly because Vick and Newman's solid nights were so big but also did not come on a night when Graham and Mykhailiuk disappeared.

Bench: A

The numbers might not have been the most eye-popping, but for this team, I think the bench you saw on Tuesday night was exactly what you'll need — and want — to see the rest of the way. From here on out, it's up to KU's top five to carry the day. And they obviously won't be able to do it alone. But they are going to have to play the bulk of the minutes and those three subs are going to have to fill in by keeping things together as best they can when they're asked to step onto the floor. Lightfoott, Garrett and De Sousa did that in this one. And they did it well.






By the Numbers: Kansas 83, Iowa State 77

By the Numbers: Kansas 83, Iowa State 77

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1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-Baylor II

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) is sent back to the bench by an official and his teammate Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) while protesting a call during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2018 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) is sent back to the bench by an official and his teammate Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) while protesting a call during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2018 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Udoka Azubuike snapped his head back and dropped the ball on the ground. Today’s 1-3-1 blog explains what went into his frustrations, plus how each of his fouls happened in Baylor's 80-64 win over the Jayhawks. If you have any plays or sequences you’d like to see GIFed please tweet @ChasenScott or comment below.

Previous breakdowns can also be found at the bottom of this story.


Play of the game: An untimely own goal

Ever have one of those days where you can’t just catch a break?

You might have more in common with the KU men’s basketball team than you think.

“God, could anything more go wrong," said KU coach Bill Self, "on a day you get guys injured in warmups to basically dunking the ball for the other team.”

Not much, as it were.

Despite only scoring 20 points in the first half, the Jayhawks gutted their way back into the game against Baylor, an 80-64 loss. They pulled within two on a 3-pointer from Devonte’ Graham and did so again after a jumper by Lagerald Vick.

His next points didn’t quite go so well.

via GIPHY

The own goal — or perhaps ‘Self-basket,' if you'd rather — was a perfect representation of KU’s inability to get over the hump. It also didn’t come by pure happenstance.

KU was in a 2-3 zone, which can create rebounding issues in of itself. The guards flew all around the court as Jake Lindsey dribbled and settled into more natural positions as he passed the ball to Mark Vital.

Vital attacked the hoop, and Udoka Azubuike moved to contest the shot. Svi Mykhailiuk probably could’ve done so just fine, especially with no Baylor players in the corner to worry about, but he slid past Vital.

Baylor’s Jo Lual-Acuil had inside position and, since Azubuike wasn’t there to block him out, had a straight shot to get the rebound. Vick had to hustle to try to get between him and the ball, but as he jumped up to get the rebound, he actually knocked it back into the hoop.

The play killed KU's momentum, preventing them from having a chance to tie the game — or take the lead — on the next possession. They pulled within two one more time, but that was as close as it got.


A trend: Hands off —

If Vick's mishap was frustrating, Azubuike's day put him on a whole other level.

The 7-foot, 280-pound big man picked up his fourth foul at the 17:54 mark in the second half of Saturday’s game. Self had plenty to say about that one — and all of them.

Let’s take a look at the first.

via GIPHY

There’s no real way to sugarcoat this one. It’s a flop, and it isn’t a particularly good one.

Azubuike made contact with Lual-Acuil’s chest. A half-second later, the big man fell onto the floor and the charge was called..

“Hey we’ve gotten some calls, too, so I’m not saying we haven’t benefited from some whistles,” Self said with a laugh. “But that was one of the biggest flops I’ve ever seen. I mean the guy fell down a full second after supposedly there was contact.”

But Azubuike does wear some of the call — mostly because of the predictability.

“The whole deal, everybody knows that he’s going to lead with his left shoulder when he’s on the left block,” Self said. “He’s got to be smarter than that, to do that.”

Not all the fouls on Saturday were that embellished.

After defending Lual-Acuil well in the post, Azubuike was called for a foul for shoving Vital in the back.

via GIPHY

It was a clear foul — Azubuike put both hands on Vital’s back — but it probably wouldn’t have been called if Vital had a better base and didn’t fall. It also would’ve been avoided entirely if… well... hear it from the coach:

“His second foul was a loose-ball foul. No one’s fault,” Self said. “The rebound goes through (Graham’s) hands. If (Graham) rebounds the ball, it never happens.”

Azubuike’s third foul didn’t have any such explanation. It was fairly standard, as he didn’t get into defensive position on the baseline quick enough and then had to jump forward to contest a shot by Vital, sending him to the ground in the process.

His fourth foul was the opposite. There wasn’t a loose ball, or even a live ball to go after. Really, it may have been the culmination of some frustrations earlier in the game — more on that in a second.

via GIPHY

“The one that disappointed me,” Self said, “he just ran and ran right up a guy’s back, which was obvious. Easy call.”

Again, there was probably a little bit of an embellishment from Lual-Acuil, who was boxing out Azubuike on the play. But Azubuike didn’t do himself any favors.

He put both hands on Lual-Acuil and shoved him. The ball went in the net, but Azubuike still got tagged with the foul on what was a day full of frustration.

“I’m not saying they were bad calls. I’m not saying that at all,” Self said. “I’m just saying, just a little bit unfortunate in that particular game.”


One that stood out: Boiling point —

Before Azubuike’s fourth foul — 12 seconds before, in fact — he was standing under the hoop and letting out some frustration.

The bugaboo that caused it? A mishap between he, Graham and Mykhailiuk that allowed a rebound to bounce right to the Bears for an easy putback.

via GIPHY

There were a few elements to this play that caused the rebound.

Earlier in the possession, Graham (6-2, 185 pounds) switched onto the bigger Tristan Clark (6-9, 240). When Clark and Vital stood near each other later in the possession, Mykhailiuk (6-8, 205) made a smart play, nudging Graham off the bigger man so that he could use some of his extra size in guarding him.

But Graham never really left the area, instead stepping toward Lual-Acuil and then hanging around the basket to go after the rebound.

Had Graham ran out to the perimeter, he could’ve boxed Vital out or even potentially discouraged him from going after the rebound in the first place. Given how well Mykhailiuk executed his boxout, Azubuike would’ve snagged the board without a problem.

Instead, Graham hung by the basket. The putback went up and in. Azubuike caught the ball and snapped his head back in frustration. He set the ball back down rather than tossing it to Graham and then ran back down the court.

Oh, and a tidbit pointed out by KU basketball beat writer Matt Tait, take a look at the top of the screen at the end of the play.

Mykhailiuk was ready to run. Graham was pushing the tempo up the court throughout the entire second half. But Azubuike slowed it all down by dropping the ball in frustration. Those are the types of things that will drive not only a coach crazy, but disrupt the whole team in the process.


1-3-1 breakdown: KU 71, TCU 64

1-3-1 breakdown: OSU 84, KU 79

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, K-State 56

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 79, TAMU 68

1-3-1 breakdown: OU 85, KU 80

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, Baylor 67

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Jayhawks drop 3 spots to No. 13 in latest AP Top 25

Baylor Bears forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. (0) flexes next to Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) after a bucket during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2018 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Baylor Bears forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. (0) flexes next to Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) after a bucket during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2018 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

After a steady climb up the polls to open Big 12 play, the Jayhawks suddenly are headed in the opposite direction.

Ever since climbing back into the Top 5 in the weekly Associated Press Top 25 poll during Week 12, the Jayhawks have fallen in three consecutive weeks, first dropping to No. 7, then to No. 10 and this week to No. 13.

The fall out of the Top 10 comes on the heels of a weekend loss to Baylor in which the Jayhawks suffered their largest defeat of the season (16 points) and also scored a season-low 64 points in the process.

The Jayhawks remain one of four Big 12 teams ranked in the Top 25 but only Texas Tech — 21-4 overall, No. 7 in the country and in first place in the conference — seems to be headed in the right direction, with No. 20 West Virginia falling a spot after their loss to Oklahoma State and No. 23 Oklahoma falling six spots after their loss to Iowa State.

Virginia jumped up to the No. 1 spot this week, taking over the slot previously held by Villanova, which fell to third. Michigan State (2nd), Xavier (4th) and Cincinnati (5th) round out this week's Top 5.

The Jayhawks will look to begin their climb back up the polls this week at Iowa State on Tuesday night. The Cyclones have won their last four Big 12 home games by an average of 13 points over the likes of Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Baylor.

Tip-off on Tuesday is set for 6 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Here's a look at this week's complete Top 25:

1 – Virginia (30), 23-2

2 – Michigan State (21), 24-3

3 – Villanova (9), 23-2

4 – Xavier (5), 23-3

5 – Cincinnati, 23-2

6 – Purdue, 23-4

7 – Texas Tech, 21-4

8 – Ohio State, 22-5

9 – Gonzaga, 23-4

10 – Auburn, 22-3

11 – Clemson, 20-4

12 – Duke, 20-5

13 – Kansas, 19-6

14 – North Carolina, 19-7

15 – Saint Mary's, 24-3

16 – Rhode Island, 20-3

17 – Arizona, 20-6

18 – Tennessee, 18-6

19 – Wichita State, 19-5

20 – West Virginia, 18-7

21 – Texas A&M, 17-8

22 – Michigan, 20-7

23 – Oklahoma, 16-8

24 – Nevada, 21-5

25 – Arizona State, 19-6

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Postgame Report Card: Baylor 80, Kansas 64

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and the Jayhawks come back into the game after a timeout late in  the second half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2018 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and the Jayhawks come back into the game after a timeout late in the second half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2018 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of KU’s 80-64 loss at Baylor on Saturday in Waco, Texas.

Offense: D

Devonte' Graham did everything he could to get this team's offense going, both by scoring buckets and pushing the pace to try to get easy looks for his teammates and KU's transition game going, but he was just one man. The rest of the offense was woeful at best, misfiring too many times, turning the ball over and making bad decisions from start to finish.

Defense: D

The few minutes of zone that the Jayhawks played well in the second half helped Kansas crawl back into the game, but they still gave up 50 points in the second half and allowed Baylor to shoot 56.6 percent for the game, including 53.3 percent from 3-point range. Not the kind of defense Bill Self is used to seeing nor demands from his teams.

Frontcourt: F

Once again, Udoka Azubuike was careless with his fouls and too often made bad decisions with the ball when he actually did get it. His 4-of-4 shooting performance might look decent and seem deserving of something better than an F, but, in reality, it just makes his overall offensive night look worse because he should have been doing much more of that instead of allowing Baylor to gain confidence guarding him by being passive in the post. Add to that an uncharacteristic, low-energy start by Mitch Lightfoot and this grade is easy.

Backcourt: C-

Given what Graham did, it's hard to go too low here. And there were some — some — decent moments from a couple of KU's guards. But overall, the backcourt looked lost and played fragmented basketball for far too much of KU's ugliest loss of the season.

Bench: D-

It's kind of odd to call it a bench, given the fact that two of the three guys who played off the bench played 32 minutes apiece, but that speaks both to this team's chemistry issues and lack of depth. The fact that two players who have primarily functioned as starters this season could not bring much energy or production off the bench was bad for the Jayhawks and this grade.

By the Numbers: Baylor 80, Kansas 64.

By the Numbers: Baylor 80, Kansas 64.

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1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-TCU

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) turns for a shot over TCU forward Kouat Noi (12) during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) turns for a shot over TCU forward Kouat Noi (12) during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Svi Mykhailiuk was held to just two shot attempts by TCU. Today’s 1-3-1 blog explains how the Horned Frogs were able to smother the senior guard, plus a look into a pair of smart plays made by Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot in the Jayhawks' 71-64 win over TCU. If you have any plays or sequences you’d like to see GIFed please tweet @ChasenScott or comment below.

Previous breakdowns can also be found at the bottom of this story.


Play of the game: ‘You see what Dok just did?’ —

Udoka Azubuike had probably his best rebounding game of the season against TCU. He hit two huge free throws when TCU fouled him intentionally and made six of his 10 shots from the field.

Yet his biggest — or perhaps smartest — play, was what sparked a slew of compliments from ESPN broadcaster Fran Fraschilla.

“You see what Dok just did on that rebound?” asked Fraschilla, calling the game on ESPN. “That’s a heads up a play. Smart play.”

via GIPHY

Ahead by just five points with 25 seconds left, the Jayhawks defended a TCU possession and forced a contested 3 by Kenrich Williams.

Azubuike showed good awareness, finding and boxing out TCU big man Vlad Brodziansky and leaping to rebound the ball — above the rim, the way Self likes. Still, it was just a five point game, and with KU shooting a 1-and-1 on the next TCU foul, things were far from over.

The 7-foot, 280-pound big man made sure he wouldn’t be the one deciding things at the line.

“He got the ball in the air,” Fraschilla said, “and he got rid of it before they could foul him.”

It certainly shows some growth.

Flash back to Dec. 16.

Azubuike, who erupted for 26 points and 10 rebounds — though only five defensive boards — recorded what should have been the game-ending block and board against Nebraska. However, after grabbing the ball with about five seconds left, he waited an additional 1.1 seconds to chuck it up the court.

None by Scott Chasen

For some reason, Nebraska's players did not immediately foul, a decision that ended the game. Even if Azubuike, improbably, made two free throws, Nebraska would’ve had at least four seconds left and a couple of timeouts to figure something out down three.

This time, Azubuike didn’t leave it up to the other team. He found Malik Newman and that was that.


A trend: How TCU frustrated a KU senior —

Svi Mykhailiuik’s dunk at the end of the above play carried with it some frustration. Yes, it earned him a bit of a talking-to from a nearby referee, but it was one of the only opportunities he even had to put up a shot in the second half.

After tabbing 70 shot attempts over his last four games, Mykhailiuk was held to just one point on 0-for-2 shooting on Tuesday, mostly due to how TCU chose to defend him.

Mykhailiuk, who scored 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting in Fort Worth, seemed to be targeted by the Horned Frogs. Seldom did he have the chance to break loose on Tuesday, and even when he did, it wasn't for long.

via GIPHY

On this play in the first half, Mykhailiuk slipped a screen and popped out behind the 3-point line. He was open for a split second, but then two TCU defenders quickly helped onto him, one of which actually left Devonte’ Graham wide open in the corner in the process.

With the TCU defenders guarding Mykhailiuk all the way out to the perimeter, it was a tough night for the 6-8 guard. Often times it was Williams who drew the primary assignment of guarding Mykhailiuk, but the Horned Frogs were quick to switch when he was involved in any action around the perimeter, keeping him from getting any space coming off a screen — although it did open Mykhailiuk up to drive past the bigger Brodziansky on occasion.

Sometimes it created other holes in the defense, too.

via GIPHY

With KU running a 1-5 pick-and-roll, Kouat Noi likely would’ve either switched onto Graham or at least come out for a hard hedge. Sensing that, Mitch Lightfoot never set the screen and instead slipped to the hoop for the easy lay-in.

Later, TCU completely lost sight of Mykhailiuk. Noi helped on Azubuike on the post, forcing Williams to slide over and guard Graham. It’s clear that Williams was expecting Noi to eventually switch onto Mykhailiuk, but he didn’t, leading to a moment where Mykhailiuk was running across the court completely unimpeded.

via GIPHY

Ultimately, the Jayhawks weren’t able to get Mykhailiuk the ball in a position to score on that play, which was often the case on Tuesday. Self noted afterward it was possible Mykhailiuk wasn’t feeling 100 percent, though he was quick to add the swingman wouldn’t use that as an excuse.

“I think TCU, they did a couple of subtle things that were really clever in defending us,” Self said. “We didn't force help off ball screens because of the way they switched it and did some things. There are some clever things they did that they deserve credit for.”


One that stood out: Just do your job

When Lightfoot scored his first basket as a starter, a layup after an offensive rebound, the Allen Fieldhouse crowd let out a roar. Lightfoot, who started the game at the four and moved to the five after Azubuike picked up his first foul, simply did his job, something that became a catch phrase of sorts for the player who held down the five-spot for KU last year.

Landen Lucas was never a specularly exciting player, but he did a number of things — positional defending, screen setting, sealing off defenders — that made KU as a team better on both ends of the floor when he was in the game. Lightfoot channeled one of those in his start on Tuesday, making an unspectacular play that led to an easy KU bucket.

via GIPHY

Graham skied for the rebound off the TCU miss and had his head up as he came down the floor. He threw a pass ahead to Malik Newman, who drove right to the rim and scored.

Simple as that, right?

Watch Lightfoot on the play. He started out by the perimeter, guarding a big man capable of shooting in Brodziansky. When Graham secured the board, Lightfoot ran down the floor and into the paint.

Newman caught the pass from Graham in the right corner and drove around Brodziansky to the hoop. There should’ve been help from TCU’s Alex Robinson on the drive, but Lightfoot positioned his body and stuck out his arms to seal off the defender and allow Newman an easy path to the rim.

It wasn't a flashy play — quite boring, actually — but it's exactly what KU needed.


1-3-1 breakdown: OSU 84, KU 79

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, KSU 56

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 79, TAMU 68

1-3-1 breakdown: Oklahoma 85, KU 80

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, Baylor 67

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KU coach Bill Self: ‘I can paint a pretty bleak picture sometimes; we’re still 8-3’

Kansas head coach Bill Self congratulates his players and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) following the Jayhawks' 92-86 win over Texas don Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self congratulates his players and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) following the Jayhawks' 92-86 win over Texas don Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

Most years, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self is peppered with questions on a weekly basis about weaknesses, low points or obstacles to the Jayhawks being the supreme college basketball program in all the land.

And most years, it's Self's high demands and stringent coach's perspective on every detail of his team's performance that leads the questions that direction.

Throw in the fact that the Jayhawks have lost three games at Allen Fieldhouse already this season and are playing with a paper-thin bench and a group of players who, though talented, have not yet fully clicked for any kind of period of time, and it's easy to see how Self could, would and perhaps even should be hypercritical of everything involving his team right now.

But that was not the way things went down on Thursday afternoon, at his regularly scheduled news conference, where, between fielding questions about KU's progress and the individual strengths and weaknesses of nearly every player in KU's rotation, Self hit the pause button.

“I think we've had some guys individually get better,” Self began, when asked if the opportunity to play a team for the second time in a season — a la Baylor on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Waco, Texas — offered an opportunity to better assess progress. “Being a descendent of Tony Robbins, always being so positive all the time, I can paint a pretty bleak picture sometimes, (but) we're still 8-3.”

That's 8-3 in the Big 12. 19-5 overall. Both are records most coaches and programs would do anything for, and, at Kansas and with Self, those records spark a much different response.

“I had a text yesterday or this morning from one of my ex-players at Oklahoma State,” Self recalled. “He said, 'Coach, I know you're having a rough, rough season, but hang in there.' That is the mindset so much, in large part maybe because I help paint that in some ways. I'm not saying I'm happy by any stretch. I would just think that the tougher teams, the teams that can execute out of timeouts, the teams that understand the importance of getting two or three stops in a row at game point, those are the teams that will have a chance to finish strong and win the league.”

With seven games still to play — four on the road and three at home — Kansas has positioned itself to have that kind of finish.

Tied with Texas Tech for first place in the Big 12, the combined record of KU's final seven opponents is: 109-57 overall and 37-40 in Big 12 play compared to 114-53 and 39-38 for Texas Tech.

The two play each other again on Feb. 24 in Lubbock, Texas.

Who knows what will happen between now and then, or in the two conference games that remain after that one's over. Either way, record differential or not, it doesn't figure to be easy for either squad and likely will come down to the same thing that so many Big 12 games this season already have — stars and subs alike rising to the big moment.

“TCU, the first time we played them, our stuff worked, their stuff worked,” Self said. “The second time we played them, our stuff didn't work, their stuff didn't work. I think you probably have that in the NFL, the second time you play a team within your division. I think you'd have that wherever. In all honesty, the way you win more times than not (during) the second half (of the Big 12 schedule) is (with) guys making individual plays rather than scoring off your plays.”

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Kansas City guard Ochai Agbaji to reveal college pick Thursday afternoon

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Oak Park High senior Ochai Agbaji (pronounced Och-eye A-ba-gee), a 6-foot-5 wing regarded by many as the best player in the Kansas City area, is ready to announce his college of choice.

And he plans to do it at 2 p.m. Thursday during a ceremony at Oak Park.

Agbaji's recruitment is not the typical chase for the stars that that KU program is known to be involved with. But the Jayhawks, along with a handful of other schools from Power 5 conferences — Nebraska, Oregon, Wisconsin and Texas A&M among them — recently jumped into the race to land one of the fastest-rising recruits still available in the 2018 class.

Unranked by Rivals.com and slotted as the No. 328 prospect in the nation by 247 Sports — No. 75 overall among shooting guards and No. 11 in the state of Missouri — the 6-foot-5, 195-pound wing first received an offer from Kansas last weekend, after KU coach Bill Self made the drive over to watch Agbaji play live.

In that game, Agbaji poured in 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, displaying the kind of all-around game that has attracted some of the biggest programs in college basketball to take a closer look of late.

Dubbed by 247 Sports recruiting analyst Matt Scott “a walking box score,” Agbaji grew an inch from his playing days with MOKAN Elite last summer and has drawn comparisons to former KU star and Kansas City native Travis Releford but with a better jump shot.

After receiving an official scholarship offer from Self and the Jayhawks last week, Agbaji told Scott he was “excited about it” and added that it was “an honor.”

Those statements, along with an announcement date coming two days before he was expected to take an official visit to Oregon State over the weekend, have some thinking Kansas is in good shape with Agbaji.

But Kansas or not, the Jayhawks and the rest of the surging shooting guard's suitors will know by Thursday afternoon where Agbaji is headed.

Should Agbaji pick Kansas, he would become the fifth player in KU's 2018 class, joining five-star guards Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes and Top 40 big men Silvio De Sousa, who already with the team but still counts in the 2018 class, and David McCormack.

With De Sousa already having a scholarship and Dotson, Grimes and McCormack taking the scholarships made available by the combined departures of Billy Preston, Devonte' Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, adding an additional player — or two; KU remains in the hunt for five-star guard Romeo Langford — would put Kansas one player over the scholarship limit and create an interesting situation heading into the offseason.

There would, of course, be all kinds of options — not to mention time — for Self and company to figure out the numbers crunch. And with Lagerald Vick, Udoka Azubuike and Malik Newman all having been kicked around as potential early-departures and transfers always being an option, it's not hard to see how Kansas could make any scenario (adding one player, two players or no players) work, should the need arise.

Check back with KUsports.com Thursday afternoon for more on Agbaji's big announcement.

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Postgame Report Card: Kansas 71, TCU 64

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) fights for a ball with several TCU players during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) fights for a ball with several TCU players during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of KU’s 71-64 grind-it-out victory over TCU at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: B

Devonte' Graham and Udoka Azubuike combined to shoot 13-of-26 from the floor for 40 points. That's an A. Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk combined to shoot 1-of-11 from the floor for five points. That's a D. The tie-breaker? Marcus Garrett and Mitch Lightfoot combined to shoot 7-of-9 from the floor for 16 points on a night when the Jayhawks needed every point they could muster. Call it a B, especially considering KU's 70 percent shooting from the free throw line.

Defense: A

The Horned Frogs entered the game averaging 86 points per game and operating as one of the most efficient offensive teams in the Big 12 Conference. Kansas held them to 64 points — 28 in the second half — on 40 percent shooting. It might not always have been pretty, but it was a damn good defensive effort by the home team, one that featured a ton effort, energy and desire.

Frontcourt: A

Udoka Azubuike delivered the kind of double-double he should have most nights out and Mitch Lightfoot was rock solid in his first start. If KU gets more nights like that from its two big men, this team could turn a corner in a hurry. Azubuike was a force on both ends, dunking over people at will on offense and skying high for defensive boards. He even blocked a pair of shots and grabbed three offensive rebounds. The best part? They committed just four fouls between them and made a monster impact in just 47 combined minutes.

Backcourt: B+

We covered this a bit in the offensive grade, but this one gets the plus because of the big night delivered by Graham — when KU absolutely had to have it — and the ultra-solid 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting from back-up guards Garrett and Lagerald Vick. Svi and Newman were not good offensively, but both played hard and found other ways to impact the game. Newman's five assists tied for the team high and Svi's 36 minutes and presence as a player the TCU defense absolutely had to respect and pay attention to opened things up inside for Azubuike.

Bench: A

I'm not sure you can get much more out of Garrett, who made all four shots he attempted and grabbed two rebounds and dished an assist in 15 minutes. And Vick, after being benched at the start of the game, still played 29 minutes and, at times, looked as aggressive as he has looked in weeks. TCU's a good team. This was a good win. Nobody in a Kansas uniform is apologizing for the way it came or looked. All that matters is how it reads on their record.

By the Numbers: Kansas 71, TCU 64.

By the Numbers: Kansas 71, TCU 64.

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Say What?: Tait previews KU vs. TCU

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1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-OSU

Kansas head coach Bill Self reacts to a call during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self reacts to a call during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The 1-3-1 breakdown from KU’s 84-79 home loss to Oklahoma State explains how the Cowboys were able to steal 24 seconds away in the final minute-and-a-half, plus a look at some of the plays leading up to Lagerald Vick’s benching. If you have any plays or sequences you’d like to see GIFed please tweet @ChasenScott or comment below.

Previous breakdowns can also be found at the bottom of this story.


Play of the game: Every second counts —

As a college basketball fan I’ve always been confused as to why teams don't play the clock more. Think of the following scenario:

There are 45 seconds left in the first half. KU has the ball, inbounding under its own hoop. What happens next?

In this scenario, KU will almost always hurry to get the ball inbounds and take a quick shot to secure the 2-for-1 — a concept that allows KU two of the last three possessions of the half. The Jayhawks might get the ball back with seven seconds or so remaining, but two attempts at a shot, even if they're only shots that would go in 25 percent of the time, still give them a pretty good chance to end up with some points.

But Oklahoma State doesn't have to comply.

Since the clock doesn’t stop on a made field goal in the first half, the other team could legally stall for five seconds — or semi-legally stall for even more time — and minimize that difference. Oklahoma State did exactly that in the second half on Saturday, and it turned out to be pretty important.

via GIPHY

There is 1:08 left when the shot goes in.

There is 1:03 left when the referee starts his five count.

There are 58.2 seconds left when the shot clock starts.

There are 55.2 seconds left when KU takes its foul to give.

Doesn't the clock stop in the second half, though? If you're like me, you were a little confused about the ruling.

However, the NCAA rules only state that the scorers stop the game clock when “a goal is successful (clears the bottom of the net) in the last 59.9 seconds of the second period or any overtime period,” leaving a loophole of sorts for baskets that are counted just before the clock dips under a minute.

So the shot goes in at 1:08 and should be inbounded by 1:03, but the Cowboys are — likely intentionally — slow getting to the ball, leaving time for players to get into the right positions and, more importantly, taking nearly 15 percent of the remaining time off the clock.

But wait, there's more.

Since KU wasn't in the bonus yet, the Cowboys got another chance to inbound the ball. It looked like KU was trying to foul on the ensuing inbound, but the Cowboys were able to go end to end and score with just over 48 seconds left.

All in all, the Cowboys were able to run 20 seconds off the clock and score two points on the exchange. Considering how they started the possession, up six with just under 70 seconds to play, they probably would've taken either result, let alone both.

Oh, and don’t believe me that coaches use these things to their advantage? Watch Bill Self’s reaction on this play.

None by Scott Chasen


A trend: So what about that start? —

If a player is going to rack up 32-plus minutes, mistakes are going to happen. It’s almost impossible to play that many minutes in a game — let alone to average it for a season — and not have lapses. Yet not all mistakes are created equal.

A mistake with six minutes left in the first half when you haven’t gotten a breather all game can be forgivable. Mistakes one or two minutes into the game? Not so much.

Unfortunately for Lagerald Vick, he didn't even last that long.

Let’s take a look at the first possession of Saturday’s game.

via GIPHY

KU was switching on the perimeter, evident by how the guards defended the action by Oklahoma State. Vick even pointed for Svi Mykhailiuk to swap onto another defender at one point, so there were no misunderstandings by the players. At least until the end of the play.

Jeffrey Carroll came off a pair of screens. Devonte’ Graham had no chance to fight through them all the way out to the perimeter, but he didn't have to. Carroll became Vick's responsibility, with a nearby Udoka Azubuike sagging into the paint.

Vick didn't recognize what was happening — even after Graham bumped into him from behind — until it was too late. He gave up a wide-open 3-pointer to a player who had hit at least two of them in 11 of his last 13 games. KU got bailed out by a miss.

I’ve included what happens next in the GIF because it feels just as important. Vick runs down the court, catches a pass and pulls up for a 3. He had the opportunity to drive by a forward who was closing out, but it’s not a terrible look.

But when you compound it with what came before — and add in what happens next — it starts to be a part of a trend.

via GIPHY

Self was probably already about to blow up, but the explosion could’ve at least been delayed to the under-16 media timeout. KU allowed an offensive rebound on its second defensive possession, which featured several players standing around, but there was no need to panic, at least until it happened again with four KU players in and around the paint.

While Vick shouldn’t have necessarily been the one who came up with the rebound, he had already started walking away from the play as if the board were secured. Then he stood around for the rest of the possession, becoming the target of a Self hand-gesture after the Cowboys finally scored.

Now watch what happened next.

via GIPHY

A big thank you to Michael Coover (@MichaelCoover) for pointing this play out on Twitter.

Again, by itself, this play wasn't too big of a deal. Vick dribbled the ball off his foot and it went out of bounds. It happens.

But given the way he started the game, giving up an open 3 and an offensive rebound and missing a 3-pointer early in the clock, that’s the type of effort, or lack thereof, that will drive a coach crazy.

And if there are that many plays like that in the first 184 seconds of the game, it’s not hard to figure out why Self might want a different body in the starting five.


One that stood out: One more from the end —

Earlier in the year, when KU defeated Texas in Austin, I pointed out a pair of instances where Texas coach Shaka Smart disadvantaged his team by putting his best defensive player on the inbounder…

Once…

None by Scott Chasen

Twice…

None by Scott Chasen

And three times...

None by Scott Chasen

When Texas switched to a man-to-man defense, KU ran offense to get the 7-foot Mohamed Bamba isolated onto Graham on the perimeter, meaning the big man was away from the hoop and couldn't help on drives and rebounds.

It’s a little thing, but it’s something that resulted in points for KU on two out of three possessions. Point is, it mattered. And so did this.

None by Kyle Cornish

Kyle raises an interesting point I thought it would be fun to explore.

With only 14.2 seconds left and KU down 3, the strategy wasn’t all that complicated: Go for a steal and then foul. There wasn't much time to waste.

Oklahoma State put KU between a rock and a hard place.

via GIPHY

As Kyle points out, the Cowboys seemed to want to inbound the ball to Kendall Smith, who was being guarded by Graham (four fouls). Smith came off a screen and caught the pass. Graham couldn't foul or he’d be out of the game.

The Cowboys were ultimately able to run four seconds off the clock with this strategy, as Graham was only able to haphazardly poke at the ball and chase after Smith until Marcus Garrett took the foul. But by that point, nearly one-third of the remaining time had bled off the clock.

So going back to Kyle’s question, why wasn’t Graham on the inbounder? He doesn’t really have the length to bother a passer — as would Vick or Mykhailiuk, who guarded the play — but that hasn’t stopped KU in the past.

In thinking about the most iconic moments of Frank Mason’s KU career, three immediately came to my mind. The game winner in Madison Square Garden was first. His dive into a table at K-State followed by an improbable return to the play and steal was second.

"Those plays define seasons," Self said at the time.

If you’re like me, the third play you remember is what he did in triple overtime against Oklahoma. Mason crowded Buddy Hield on the sideline as he went to inbound the ball. He jumped up and down, swarming Hield and eventually knocking the ball away and coming up with a controversial game-winning steal.

There are some obvious differences, including where the ball was being inbounded, but it's an interesting question to ask: With four fouls, should Graham have be put in the same situation? Will he be next time?

We’ll just have to wait and see.


1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, KSU 56

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 79, TAMU 68

1-3-1 breakdown: Oklahoma 85, KU 80

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, Baylor 67

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KU Sports Extra: Outplayed by Oklahoma State

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Postgame Report Card: Oklahoma State 84, Kansas 79

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) have a talk at half court during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) have a talk at half court during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of KU’s 84-79 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: C-

Despite reaching 79 points, it certainly was an off day for the Kansas offense. The Jayhawks made just one 3-pointer in the first half and struggled throughout the day from the outside and also turned it over 11 times, most of them coming as they tried to initiate offense while digging the first-half hole. A few late shots made the percentages respectable and KU certainly did not lose this one on the offensive end. But had the offense been its normal, 3-point shooting machine, KU may have had less of a hole to crawl out of.

Defense: C-

After the loss, KU coach Bill Self said the team's first-shot defense was decent. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, when you give back nearly half of the 30 shots the opponent misses, that's not going to show up in the box score. Beyond that, Kansas could not find a way to get the late stop it needed, allowing OSU to shoot 51.6 percent from the floor for the game and 44.4 percent from 3-point range.

Frontcourt: C

Stop me if you've heard this one... Udoka Azubuike was great when he was out there, but too many silly fouls limited his minutes. Azubuike played just 21 minutes and grabbed 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting in that time. He snagged just five rebounds and also turned it over twice. There were plenty of effort plays on Azubuike's behalf. And his free throws, for the second game in a row, looked much better. But KU needs him to be more of a factor all over the stat sheet and not just in the points column.

Backcourt: B-

Devonte' Graham and Svi Mykhaililuk (17 points apiece) did what they could, though neither player delivered a particularly solid game. And Malik Newman had one heck of an eight-point spurt in the second half en route to his 16-point total. But Lagerald Vick was nowhere to be found — 2-of-10 shooting, five points, three rebounds, three turnovers in 34 minutes — and Marcus Garrett's 14 minutes in relief were mostly quiet.

Bench: D

Mitch Lightfoot had a couple of moments, but was nothing like the player KU fans now know he can be. And Silvio De Sousa and Marcus Garrett didn't do much to affect this one.

By the Numbers: Oklahoma State 84, Kansas 79.

By the Numbers: Oklahoma State 84, Kansas 79.

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The most memorable moments from 120 years of Kansas Basketball

From James Naismith and Phog Allen to Bill Self and so many memorable people, places and moments in between, the first 120 years of Kansas Basketball, which will be celebrated Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, during KU's home game with Oklahoma State, have delivered some of the best success and story lines that college basketball has to offer.

From James Naismith and Phog Allen to Bill Self and so many memorable people, places and moments in between, the first 120 years of Kansas Basketball, which will be celebrated Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, during KU's home game with Oklahoma State, have delivered some of the best success and story lines that college basketball has to offer. by Matt Tait

When it comes to praising all of the things for which Kansas basketball is known, former KU coach Larry Brown perhaps said it up best when he opined, “there's no better place to coach, there's no better place to go to school and there's no better place to play,” a heartfelt endorsement of a school he loves that, until recently, still could be heard during the Jayhawks' pregame intro video.

But Brown is far from the only legendary name to sing the praises of the KU program, Allen Fieldhouse or the Jayhawk mystique throughout the years.

And while it's easy to see how a coach who worked the sidelines at Allen Fieldhouse would view KU as one of the greatest spots to do the job, it's the comments from those who did not wear crimson and blue that often seem most powerful and do the best job of putting things into perspective.

The list is long and full of just as many legendary names as anonymous faces.

One after the next, whether they've been to Lawrence a dozen times or were visiting for the first time, coaches large and small walk into Allen Fieldhouse eager to see how their teams will handle it and usually don't leave without uttering some sort of soliloquy that, more often than not, includes the words “special place.”

It's the venue, the fan base, the players and the atmosphere that make it that way, of course. But it's the thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears that have gone into turning Kansas into one of the few truly elite programs in all of college basketball that have built Kansas basketball into a powerhouse brand.

Three of the eight coaches who have kept watch on the program will be in town this weekend — Brown, Ted Owens and Bill Self — and dozens of others with ties to the program also will make an appearance at an event that is celebrated every five years in one way or another.

“I think we have just under 200 ex-players coming back, plus managers, secretaries and people who have really given a lot to this place,” Self said this week. “With the players coming back, all of them can bring a guest, and the banquet that night only accommodates 400 or 450 so it'll be packed in there tight, but it'll be fun. All the ex-guys will certainly enjoy it and I know I'll enjoy getting a chance to see some folks I haven't seen in a while.”

As the Jayhawks prepare for a weekend's worth of celebration, honoring the 120-year history of Kansas basketball, let's take a quick look back at some of the best and most memorable moments that have dotted the last 120 years, stretching over 13 decades.

1890s

The year was 1899 and the date was Feb. 3. That was when the Kansas Jayhawks played their first official game of basketball. Led by the game's inventor, James Naismith, the Jayhawks lost that game to Kansas City YMCA and three others that season, finishing the first season of Kansas basketball with a 7-4 record.

1900s

The turn of the century also brought one of the most important hires in the history of the program. After running the program for nine years, Naismith eventually stepped away and hired one of his former players, Forrest C. “Phog” Allen to handle the job. Allen, the man for whom Allen Fieldhouse later was named, led the Jayhawks for 39 seasons in two stints and was driven to prove wrong Naismith's claim that “you can't coach basketball; you just play it.” Hired in 1907, Phog Allen contributed dozens of important moments to the history of college basketball and was known as "The Father of Basketball Coaching.”

1910s

In what can only be described as the most uneventful decade of Kansas basketball, the Jayhawks merely won 125 games under W.O. Hamilton and brought home five conference championships in the process. KU finished with just one loss in three of Hamilton's 10 seasons and enjoyed a 21-game winning streak that spanned the end of the 1913-14 season and the beginning of the 1914-15 season.

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1920s

Led by Phog Allen, the Jayhawks finished the 1921-22 and 1922-23 seasons with a combined record of 33-3, which, later, was good enough to earn KU two retroactively-awarded Helms Foundational national titles, which are honored on two of the five national championship banners hanging inside Allen Fieldhouse. After a 10-year coaching stint by W.O. Hamilton, who finished with a 125-59 record from 1909-1919, Allen retook control of the program and led the Jayhawks until 1956. One of the more notable names of the decade was Adolph Rupp, who played for Allen from 1920-23. Seven years later, Rupp began a 41-year coaching career at Kentucky that produced 876 victories, which ranks him fifth on the all-time list.

1930s

In addition to winning a ton of games in this decade, Allen helped create something that has become one of the biggest spectacles in the history of sports and continues to grow bigger and bigger every year. First played in 1939, Allen the modern NCAA Tournament, which featured a bracket and the first ever Final Four. Villanova, Ohio State, Oregon and Oklahoma played in that first Final Four, with Oregon topping Ohio State to claim the first official NCAA championship.

1940s

It's happened 13 more times since, but in 1940, Phog Allen's Jayhawks reached the first Final Four in school history, knocking off Rice, 50-44, to advance to the national semifinals. While there, second-seeded Kansas disposed of USC by a single point before falling to top-seeded Indiana, 60-42 in the national title game. That team, which featured, among others, Dick Harp and Ralph Miller, finished 19-6 and won its eighth Big Six championship in a 10-year span.

1950s

Arguably the most memorable decade in Kansas basketball history, the '50s featured not only KU's first NCAA championship (1952) but also a group of Jayhawks winning Olympic gold, the opening of Allen Fieldhouse in 1955, the arrival of Wilt Chamberlain one year later and one of the most memorable games in school history, a triple-overtime loss to North Carolina in the 1957 national title game. The Jayhawks also reached three Final Fours during the 1950s and saw the end of Phog Allen's stellar coaching career in 1956. When all was said and done, Allen left KU with a career coaching record of 590-219. Through his first 15 seasons, current KU coach Bill Self is now second to Allen in all-time Kansas victories with a career record of 434-92. Another notable name to play at Kansas in the '50s was Emporia native Dean Smith, who played at Kansas under Phog Allen from 1949-53. After a short stint as a KU assistant after graduation, Smith started his coaching career as an assistant at North Carolina in 1958 before taking over as the UNC head coach in 1961 and walking away after 36 seasons and 879 victories.

1960s

On Feb. 3, 1969, exactly 70 years to the day of the first ever basketball game in school history, Kansas picked up victory No. 1,000, with 64-48 victory over Oklahoma State at Allen Fieldhouse. In 1964, Ted Owens was hired to replace Dick Harp and Owens would go on to lead the Jayhawks for the next 19 seasons, guiding Kansas to six Big Eight titles, seven NCAA Tournament appearances and two trips to the Final Four. Owens and the Jayhawks were inches away from reaching the Final Four in 1966, but what appeared to be a game-winning shot by point guard Jo Jo White in the first overtime of a game against Texas Western was waived off after White was whistled for stepping out of bounds. Texas Western won in double overtime and went on to defeat Kentucky for the national title, becoming the first team to field an all-black starting lineup to win the title.

1970s

On Senior Night of a particularly disappointing 1971-72 season in which the Jayhawks finished 11-15, senior Bud Stallworth provided one of the most memorable individual efforts in KU history. Facing arch-rival Missouri at Allen Fieldhouse, Stallworth exploded for 50 points — the second most ever by a KU player, behind Wilt Chamberlain's 52 — and ended the season on a positive note. Two years later, led by a group of talented juniors, Owens and the Jayhawks reached the Final Four for the second time in the decade, joining the 1970-71 squad as the fifth and sixth Final Four teams in school history.

1980s

The 1980s featured two of the most memorable coaching hires in school history — Larry Brown in 1983 and Roy Williams in 1988 — and also delivered Kansas its second NCAA title, when Danny and the Miracles wrote a Cinderella story en route to the 1988 national championship. Back in the Final Four for the second time in three years under Brown, the 1988 Jayhawks won the title as a No. 6 seed, knocking off fourth-seeded Kansas State, second-seeded Duke and top-seeded Oklahoma in successive rounds, avenging regular season losses to all three programs in the process. Following the magical 1987-88 season, Danny Manning went on to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft. Manning still holds KU's all-time records for career points (2,951) and rebounds (1,187).

1990s

With a little-known former North Carolina assistant coach named Roy Williams, suddenly running the show, it did not take KU fans long to realize just how good they had it. Williams led the Jayhawks to two Final Fours in his first five seasons, leading the 1990-91 Jayhawks to the national title game and the 1992-93 team to the national semifinals. The 1990s also featured the arrival of players such as Rex Walters, Adonis Jordan, Paul Pierce, Jacque Vaughn, Raef LaFrentz and Jerod Haase, all players who contributed mightily to Williams' signature style of fast-paced basketball and tremendous effort at all times.

2000s

After a decade of heartbreaking NCAA Tournament losses, the Jayhawks got back to the promised land in the 2000s, with Williams guiding KU to back-to-back Final Fours in 2001-02 and 2002-03 and a trip to the 2003 national title game. That game, an 81-78 loss by Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison-led Jayhawks to Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse, wound up being the final Kansas game ever coached by Williams, who left for North Carolina, his alma mater, following the season. That paved the way for the Jayhawks to replace him with Bill Self, who, five years later, did something Williams could never do at Kansas — cut down the nets and win the NCAA Tournament. Self's 2007-08 team that finished 37-3 was one of the best college teams of all-time and was crowned champion after a miracle 3-pointer by Mario Chalmers sent the national title game with Memphis into overtime, where Kansas won, 75-68.

2010s

After a few disappointments of his own, Self's squad finally got back to the Final Four in 2012, with a team led by tough-as-nails leaders Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson. That group lost to Kentucky in the national title game. That same year, the Jayhawks won the final Border War showdown with Missouri in an epic game at Allen Fieldhouse that featured the Jayhawks coming back from 19 down to win in overtime. Two years earlier, in 2010, Self led the Jayhawks to the program's 2,000th victory, making Kansas just the third team in NCAA history to reach that milestone. In 2014, one-and-done Jayhawk Andrew Wiggins became the second KU player to become the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Three years later, point guard Frank Mason III became the first Kansas player to sweep all of the country's national player of the year honors after becoming the first player in Big 12 history to average 20 points and five assists in a single season. In 2017, just prior to the start of his 15th season in charge of the Kansas program, Self was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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Self says Azubuike continuing to work on free throws ‘the right way’

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike, right, has a laugh with Kansas guard Lagerald Vick during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike, right, has a laugh with Kansas guard Lagerald Vick during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Monday's 2-of-5 free throw showing, which included two makes in a row late in the game, might have removed Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike from the free throw dog house.

But it does not mean Azubuike's free throw woes are fixed for good.

Kansas coach Bill Self was asked about every detail of Azubuike's free throw fix during his Hawk Talk radio show on Wednesday night, and the veteran KU coach who personally worked with Azubuike to help reset his form following an 0-of-6 performance at Oklahoma that, at least in part, contributed to KU's loss there, again explained that improving Azubuike's free throw shooting was a work still in progress.

“I don't think there's an overnight formula that, all of a sudden, he's going to go from a 40 percent to an 80 percent free throw shooter,” Self explained of Azubuike, who currently is shooting .377 at the line. “But hopefully he can get a little bit more consistent and, most importantly, get some confidence there.”

Consistency has been the biggest key in this whole experiment, which is just over a week old now. That's not to say that Azubuike and his coaches did not recognize and address his free throw woes prior to that OU loss. They did. But it was not until the player who already was known as a poor free throw shooter came up short on the biggest and brightest stage that inspired real change.

“He's trying and he's doing better,” Self said. “It's not going to be fixed. I mean, it's going to take months to get it where it's a habit and he can repeat it. But he's doing a lot better, he's trying hard and he's shooting a lot of them and he's practicing the right way, so he'll continue to see more success.”

Self again on Wednesday said he was the one specifically working with Azubuike on his new form, which looks markedly better than what he showed at Oklahoma and features a tighter, more compact approach rather than arms and elbows pointing every which way.

“This was me,” Self said. “So I'll take the blame if it doesn't go well and he deserves all the credit if it does. One thing in shooting, you can't hear more than one voice and everybody's got their own idea on how he should do it. He needs to not listen to anybody. And I don't think he is. He's been pretty committed to doing the same things that we've been working on.”

Asked if he had received any tips or advice from inside the coaching world on how to help Azubuike, Self said simply, “No. No. Coaches don't do that.”

“We've all been taught how to shoot a certain way and there are certain things that some people think are more important than others and I certainly respect that,” he continued. “But the way that (one coach teaches) it doesn't necessarily fit everybody. So you have to make adjustments based on who the individuals are. … You don't change something that's been practiced a certain way for 12 years in a weekend or whatever. I think his routine is better and more consistent and he's going to be fine.”

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The Race for Romeo — KU, Indiana and Vandy all vying for 5-star guard Romeo Langford

New Albany guard Romeo Langford (1) shoots over McCutcheon forward Haden Deaton (32) in the second half of the Indiana Class 4A IHSAA state championship basketball game in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 26, 2016. New Albany won 62-59. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

New Albany guard Romeo Langford (1) shoots over McCutcheon forward Haden Deaton (32) in the second half of the Indiana Class 4A IHSAA state championship basketball game in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 26, 2016. New Albany won 62-59. (AP Photo/AJ Mast) by Matt Tait

As the calendar gets set to flip to February and the recruiting wars for college basketball's 2018 talent start to taper off, all eyes are on Romeo Langford, the top remaining uncommitted player in the 2018 class.

There are other prospects still searching for the right fit, of course. And a couple of them rank even in the teens among the top recruiting sites. Most of the rest are in the 25-65 range.

And then there's Romeo, at No. 5 in the 247 Sports composite rankings and No. 6 on Rivals.com's Top 150.

While many in the college basketball world are waiting to see what Langford will do, only three schools appear to have a real shot at the 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard and scorer extraordinaire, who has narrowed his list down to a final three of Indiana, Kansas and Vanderbilt.

There is no exact time table for Langford to make a decision. Initially, it was believed to be slated for the April signing period and that still very well may be the case. But there have been recent rumblings about a decision coming sooner than that and coaches at all three of Langford's finalists are well aware of the importance of the next few weeks in their quest for the dynamic playmaker from New Albany, Indiana.

KU coach Bill Self and Kansas assistant Jerrance Howard were in Indiana last Friday to watch Langford and they were treated to a heck of a show, one that featured an alley-oop dunk in which Langford nearly went horizontal at the rim on the finish (1:48 mark in the video below). Videos of the moment showed that the dunk brought a smile to Self's face and inspired a standing ovation from Howard, who merely was joining the rest of the frenzied crowd that was wowed by Langford's athleticism.

In a recent interview with indystar.com, Langford's father, Tim Langford, told Zach Osterman that all three programs on his son's list of finalists had made solid impressions thus far.

The hope in the Hoosier State is that Langford will stay home and help bring Indiana back to national power status. He would be a cornerstone of new IU coach Archie Miller's rebuilding process and immediately would bring some serious local and national buzz back to the IU program.

At Vandy, head coach Bryce Drew is hoping Langford will become that player that puts his program back on the map. According to Osterman's article, Drew recently brought his entire coaching staff to New Albany to watch Langford play and gestures like that — which KU has made for plenty of players in the past and still could make with Langford — tend to go a long way toward catching a young man's attention.

And then there's the case for Kansas. Self loves the class he has signed already and believes that transfers Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore all will be ready to contribute next season after experiencing Kansas basketball as red-shirting spectators and practice players this season. And in Grimes and Dotson Self has the kind of guards that he so often desires, interchangeable parts with the ability to score and handle the ball while playing fast and furious on both ends of the floor.

What is uncertain is whether Kansas has a perimeter scorer in the wings to fill the void left by the departure of Graham and Mykhahiliuk. That's where Langford comes in and that's why Langford remains a priority for the Jayhawks. He is, by definition, a scoring threat from the wing and it's not hard to envision a scenario in which he competes for a starting spot at Kansas regardless of who returns and who doesn't.

So far this season, he is averaging 34 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists a game while doing virtually everything for his team night in and night out.

One of the most interesting things about Langford's recruitment is just how similar his three finalists are. No, Indiana, Kansas and Vandy don't sit at the same table when it comes to the history and exposure that all three can provide.

But they are each "perfect fits," according to what Tim Langford told The Athletic's Brian Hamilton in a terrific look at Langford's life as a superstar prospect in a basketball-crazed town. And because of that, the family believes that Langford cannot make a bad choice.

At this point, Langford already has taken official visits to each of his three finalists. So any future visits, which may or may not come, would be of the unofficial variety and would merely be another opportunity to check out each program.

He was at Indiana, sitting behind the Hoosiers' bench, for a recent IU win over Northwestern. And his father told Osterman that he plans to try to get to Vanderbilt again at least for a practice. It may be harder to get to Lawrence, with the distance and his prep schedule not always lining up, but Tim Langford told Osterman, “As far as Kansas, we just pay attention on TV and see how they run things, stuff like that.”

There was some speculation that a nationally televised game on ESPNU in January would inspire Langford to announce his decision then. It didn't happen.

And there's been recent talk, including in Osterman's article, about the idea of announcing his choice at the McDonald's All-American Game on March 28.

“If he had that decision, (he could) make that announcement (at the McDonald's All American game),” Tim Langford told Osterman. “But if not, we’ll wait until April.”

Regardless of when his decision comes or where it happens, it's clear that all three schools are still alive and Langford's focus, at least as of today, is more on helping New Albany win a state title before worrying about the next step.

As things stand today, with Devonte' Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk headed out the door and Billy Preston's scholarship obviously available for next season, the Jayhawks are full.

Class of 2018 signees Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes and David McCormack will take those three scholarships and Silvio De Sousa took this year's unused scholarship made available by the departure of forward Jack Whitman.

So in order to take on another player or two, which remains KU's goal, the Jayhawks will need to find a way to create a spot. With Udoka Azubuike, Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick all having the potential to entertain their NBA options following the 2017-18 season, it's not a stretch to see one of those three players leaving. And there is always the possibility of a player or two deciding to transfer out in search of a new challenge or more playing time.

Regardless of how that all plays out, the numbers crunch and finding spots has never been an issue for Self in the past and there's no reason to believe it would be now if the Jayhawks were able to land a player of Langford's caliber.

At 12-11 in the Big Ten and 8-14 in the SEC, Indiana and Vanderbilt, though not officially eliminated from contention, are, at this point, unlikely to become NCAA Touranment teams this season.

While neither staff will stop charging toward that goal, their current realities at least afford them the opportunity to keep one eye a little closer on the Langford situation and give them an easy opportunity, if not excuse, to send more resources that way.

Kansas, meanwhile, is in the middle of its quest for a record 14th consecutive Big 12 title and, once again, is trying to position itself to be a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. That does not mean the Jayhawks will take a day off in the Langford arms race, but it does put them more in line with Langford, who is thinking more about the immediate task at hand and less about his future.

That's not to say reaching a decision is not weighing on his mind. In that, all four parties involved have something in common.

“It’s not stressful,” Langford told Hamilton of the recruiting process. “But it is something I think about almost every day.”

Be that as it may, Langford appears to be juggling all that goes into it wonderfully well. The small-school stardom in a basketball state, the constant questions from friends and reporters, the exposure, the attention, the elevated status as the guy who can turn around an entire program — all of it is a part of Langford's day to day life. And all of it is preparing him well for what comes next, regardless of where that may be.

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