Entries from blogs tagged with “Tale of the Tait”

Former KU LB Ben Heeney shines at NFL Combine

Kansas University linebacker Ben Heeney jumps during a drill at the NFL football scouting combine Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, in Indianapolis.

Kansas University linebacker Ben Heeney jumps during a drill at the NFL football scouting combine Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, in Indianapolis.

During the several weeks he spent in Florida training for the NFL scouting combine, former Kansas University linebacker Ben Heeney's main goal was to prepare himself to run a 40-yard dash time in the 4.6-second range.

Sunday, on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf in Indianapolis, Heeney did one better by setting a new top mark for linebackers in the 60-yard shuttle drill with a time of 11.06 seconds. That time was the fastest by a linebacker at the combine in at least the last decade and highlighted a stellar day for the Hutchinson native.

"Ben Heeney's Spiderweb is going to be pretty awesome," Tweeted Mike Loyko, a New England Patriots and NFL Draft Analyst and Head Scout and Editor at NEPatriotsDraft, a USA Today Digital Media partner. "Perhaps the best agility performance in at least 10 years."

Heeney also showed well in the 40, cracking the 4.6 mark with an official 40 time of 4.59 seconds, the fourth fastest among all linebackers in Indianapolis.

Heeney's time was just seven-one-hundredths slower than big-time names like Oregon quarterback and 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota (4.52), Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon (4.52) and even faster than Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon (4.61) and UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley (4.63), all players expected to go much higher in the upcoming draft than Heeney.

Heeney's fast sprint accounted for just part of what turned out to be a fantastic all-around day for the former KU captain who was among the Big 12's top defensive players during the past three seasons.

Heeney also earned top-performer billing among all linebackers in attendance by finishing first in the three-cone drill (6.68 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle drill (4.0).

Add those performances to his 10-foot leap in the broad jump (14th place), 19 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press (24th) and 33.5-inch vertical jump (19th) and Heeney likely did nothing but help himself in the eyes of the dozens of NFL scouts and coaches in the building on Sunday afternoon.

Heeney will return to Florida tonight and be back in Kansas on Wednesday. From there, he'll continue training for KU's upcoming pro timing day — where he may elect to attempt to improve any of those marks — and prepare for the NFL Draft.

Former KU cornerback JaCorey Shepherd will be on the field in Indy on Monday, going through the same tests and drills that Heeney and the linebackers went through on Sunday. Like Heeney, Shepherd has spent a lot of the past several weeks hoping to fine-tune his 40 time, but there's a chance that a tweaked hamstring that kept him out of the Senior Bowl might keep him from running at the combine.

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The Day After: Taking down TCU

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) gets to the bucket against TCU center Karviar Shepherd (14) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is Kansas forward Jamari Traylor.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) gets to the bucket against TCU center Karviar Shepherd (14) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is Kansas forward Jamari Traylor. by Nick Krug

There was nothing about Saturday's match-up with TCU that made the excite-o-meter go off.

It wasn't a big game against one of the top challengers in the Big 12, it wasn't hyped up national showdown against a Top 25 team and it wasn't even a game that included a revenge angle or any kind of venom that would have the Fieldhouse faithful in a frenzy. Instead, it was just another late-February, Saturday afternoon home game that everyone expected KU to roll in.

The Jayhawks didn't exactly roll — winning 81-72 — but they did play well enough to prevent the Frogs from ever throwing a serious challenge at the Jayhawks and their one-game lead in the Big 12 race.

If there was one moment that stood out to me more than any other, it was the ovation Perry Ellis got during pregame introductions. Ellis took a ton of heat for missing a makable game-winner last Monday at West Virginia. He was trashed on message boards and Twitter, blasted by KU fans everywhere who like to believe that it's easy to just dunk everything and left Morgantown feeling down on himself for the miss.

Clearly, the 16,300 fans at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday didn't care. Ellis got the loudest ovation I've heard a KU player get during intros this season. And he responded by making 9-of-10 shots and scoring a game-high 23 points.

It's a small detail and one that probably didn't have a whole lot to do with the outcome of the game, but it was definitely cool to see a fan base rally behind their guy.

Quick takeaway

TCU showed up to compete and easily could have given the Jayhawks a little more of a scare than they did based on the way they played. TCU senior Trey Zeigler said he thought the Horned Frogs played better in Lawrence than they did in Fort Worth, even though the final score was closer in the first meeting between these two. Thankfully for the Jayhawks, who saw starters Kelly Oubre, Wayne Selden and Cliff Alexander combine for just eight points on two made field goals, the Jayhawks' defense was up to the challenge. KU limited TCU to 41 percent shooting from the floor and held smooth guard Kyan Anderson, who has had a history of playing very well against KU to 14 points on just 4-of-14 shooting. TCU coach Trent Johnson talked about KU's defense making opposing offenses feel like they have to be perfect on just about every possession, and that burden ultimately led to a few turnovers and missed opportunities that wound up being the difference.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Every once in a while the two best dudes on a team step up and have the two best games on a given day. Saturday was one of those days for Kansas, as freshman point guard Devonte' Graham and junior forward Perry Ellis both eclipsed the 20-point mark and missed just one shot between them while tallying more than half of KU's 81 points. Graham was ultra-aggressive and played with toughness and confidence. Ellis played like a man who knew he couldn't be stopped — again. If either guy comes close to matching that performance the rest of the way, this team will be a tough out for just about anybody.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) puts up a shot over TCU guard Trey Zeigler (32) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) puts up a shot over TCU guard Trey Zeigler (32) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – How about Brannen Greene's work on the boards? The guy known mostly as a deadly three-point marksman nearly led the Jayhawks in rebounds, with six (one behind Ellis' seven), and he did his work in a number of ways, which included mixing it up with bigger bodies, crashing the offensive glass and cleaning up the easy board and kick-starting a fast-break. Greene is long enough and athletic enough to be a factor on the glass. It all just comes down to mindset for him. And, clearly on Saturday, he was ready to rebound.

Kansas team manager Chris Huey checks into the game with less than a minute left, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas team manager Chris Huey checks into the game with less than a minute left, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – This last one is easy. That whole team manager Chris Huey suits up for the first and only time in his career and plays 35 seconds was way too cool. The fact that the kid got this chance is a real credit to both him and what he's all about and KU coach Bill Self, who did not have to even think about doing something like that. Neat moment, one you can't help but feel good about no matter who you cheer for.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – KU's first-half offense was pretty sloppy. Even Perry Ellis, who looked locked in from the jump on Saturday, only took four shots. The Jayhawks did shoot 54 percent from the floor in the first half, but that was more a product of how they scored — nearly half of their points came in the paint — and not how they ran offense. It improved in the second half, as the ball movement got better and KU continually worked through Ellis in the post.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) catches a pass in the paint before TCU forward Amric Fields (4) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) catches a pass in the paint before TCU forward Amric Fields (4) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – Twice during Saturday's victory the Jayhawks turned it over on inbounds plays following timeouts. One led to an easy dunk for the Horned Frogs and the other prevented KU from padding its lead. They may have been able to survive such mental lapses this time around — largely because they were at home and TCU is not quite ready to compete on the same stage as Kansas — but those are the kinds of things that will kill a team when the games start to really count.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) hangs for a shot between TCU forward Kenrich Williams (34) and forward Chris Washburn during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) hangs for a shot between TCU forward Kenrich Williams (34) and forward Chris Washburn during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – It was another rough day for Cliff Alexander, who made his fourth consecutive start but didn't do much more. Alexander made just one of four shots and finished with 2 rebounds and 3 fouls while playing just 11 minutes overall and only 3 minutes in the second half. I've been asked a ton during the past few weeks if it seems like it's time to concede that Alexander just might not become the player people thought he could or would become this season. Each time, I said no. It was too early to claim that, I thought. I'm not so sure any more, though. And this has nothing to do with motor, effort or desire, which were Alexander's issues midway through the season. He just too often looks a little lost out there and a step or two slow because of it. Maybe that's because he's had more trouble adjusting to the college game or Bill Self's coaching than people expected. Maybe it's just who he is. Either way, I don't think Alexander's a guy KU should expect a ton from the rest of the way. Does that mean he can't have some big games? Of course not. He absolutely can. But those games, if they come, will likely be the result of one thing and one thing alone — Alexander's ability to rebound and get points that way. All of that said, he's still this team's best option at altering shots in the lane, so the Jayhawks need to find a way to keep him involved enough for him to fulfill that role. Tough spot for everyone involved right now.

One for the road

KU's blue-collar victory over an improved TCU team:

• Made the Jayhawks 22-5 overall, marking the 26th-straight season that they have won 22 games.

• Improved Kansas to 11-3 in league play, giving KU 11 or more conference victories for the 21st-consecutive season.

• Extended KU’s home-court winning streak to 22 games, making KU 726-109 all-time inside Allen Fieldhouse, including 188-9 under Bill Self.

• Pushed KU’s edge in the all-time series vs. TCU to 9-1, including a 4-0 mark in games played in Allen Fieldhouse.

• Improved Self to 347-74 while at Kansas, 13-4 against TCU (7-1 at Kansas) and 554-179 overall.

• Made KU 2,148-827 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks head west for a Big Monday match-up with Kansas State at 8 p.m. at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan. KU knocked off K-State 68-57 Jan. 31 in Lawrence, in a game that KU led 20-5 and never looked back.

By the Numbers: Kansas beats TCU 81-72

By the Numbers: Kansas beats TCU 81-72

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The Day After: Another battle with the Bears

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1), forward Perry Ellis, center, and guard Kelly Oubre Jr. celebrate with Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) after Lucas took a charge from Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1), forward Perry Ellis, center, and guard Kelly Oubre Jr. celebrate with Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) after Lucas took a charge from Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Kansas University men's basketball team took an important step toward wrapping up Big 12 title No. 11 in a row on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse, with a 74-64 victory over 16th-ranked Baylor.

The reason the victory was important — other than the fact that they're all important — is that Baylor played well enough and was tough enough to win Saturday's game, yet Kansas didn't let that happen.

The Bears did everything they could to take control of the game early and had Kansas on its heels. But the Jayhawks never panicked — credit Bill Self and his icy cool demeanor for a lot of that — and cut into the lead by halftime, stormed back into it to start the second half and finished with the kind of run you typically see Kansas start games with.

Credit Baylor for preventing that run from coming until the final few minutes, but credit Kansas for playing at such a high level and getting quality and clutch performances, big and small, from multiple players.

The second hard-earned victory of the season over Scott Drew and company improved the Jayhawks to 21-4 on the season and 10-2 in Big 12 play with six games to go.

Given that Oklahoma and West Virginia — both losers on Saturday — now each have five losses in conference play, it looks as if the only team that can catch KU is Iowa State, which sits at 8-4 in Big 12 play and still has to play at Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas State and home vs. Oklahoma.

Quick takeaway

So much has been made lately about KU's three-point shooting — do they do it too much, do they do it enough, should they do it more, can they keep it up at their current pace — but Saturday's game was won in a much more conventional manner. KU's offense displayed good ball movement, players big and small got touches in the paint and the Jayhawks made a more normal 6 of 18 (33 percent) from three-point range. Considering it came against a quality team that will fight you for 40 minutes, I'm guessing this only elevated KU's confidence as a whole. Now the Jayhawks have a fresh reminder that, even if they're not shooting a ridiculous percentage from three-point rang, they can knock off a good team and win in other ways. Now the next step is to do it on the road and no place will provide a better test than Morgantown, West Virginia on Monday night.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Kansas closed the game like champions. Not only did KU's defense step up and make life miserable for the Bears in the final few minutes, but the Jayhawks also made shots and refused to leave the door even slightly cracked for a possible BU comeback. KU hit 6 of its final 10 shots, while limiting Baylor to just 2 makes in its final 10.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) soars in to the bucket as he is fouled by Baylor guard Kenny Chery (1) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) soars in to the bucket as he is fouled by Baylor guard Kenny Chery (1) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – Wayne Selden did what leaders do to open the second half. After doing next to nothing to speak of during 18 minutes in the first half, Selden exploded out of the locker room with seven straight points to put the Jayhawks right back into the thick of the game and breathe some life into an uneasy Allen Fieldhouse crowd. Selden played with energy, aggression and in attack-mode during those first few minutes of the second half, when he scored 12 points and went to the free throw line nine times.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) claps after forcing a turnover by Baylor guard Kenny Chery (1) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) claps after forcing a turnover by Baylor guard Kenny Chery (1) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – Devonte Graham's line won't knock your socks off, but he made a couple of big plays when he was in there. The most obvious was his forced five-second call on Kenny Chery, who inexplicably kept pounding the ball despite being hounded by Graham near mid-court. Another came just moments before that when Graham alertly tried to dive in for the steal when Chery allowed his eyes to leave the ball while looking back to the Baylor bench for instructions. The officials ruled that Graham knocked the ball out of bounds, but KU coach Bill Self did not care. He went nuts, jumping up and down while elebrating Graham's hustle play. Those were two big plays during KU's fabulous finish, but the more important element was that they provided proof that Graham is not allowing his offensive struggles to affect his overall game. The freshman point guard has made just two shots and scored eight points in KU's last five games.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Bill Self said Cliff Alexander played fine in this one, but his second half was certainly not part of that equation. The big man who made his second consecutive start played just seven minutes in the second half and did not score while grabbing three rebounds, picking up one foul and coughing up one turnover. Self said Baylor's zone defense was tough on Alexander and that's why Landen Lucas, who was great, got the bulk of Alexander's minutes in the second half. The fact that Lucas remains ready is a huge luxury for this team. The fact that Alexander, now 25 games in, still has moments out there where he doesn't quite know what's going on, is a huge concern.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) celebrates after hitting a three against Baylor during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) celebrates after hitting a three against Baylor during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – Brannen Greene made just 1 of 5 three-pointers in 20 minutes. The only reason that his off shooting night falls in the category of “reasons to sigh” is because Greene has been so hot during Big 12 play that you legitimately think every shot he takes is going in. He rushed a couple in this game — can you blame him? — and probably just never found his rhythm. I wouldn't look into it any deeper than that.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) tosses a pass around Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (35) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2).

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) tosses a pass around Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (35) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2). by Nick Krug

3 – Just when you want to say that Frank Mason had an off night, you look down at the stat sheet and see that he had 8 assists, 4 rebounds and played 31 minutes. However, because he shot just 1-of-5 from the floor and finihshed with just five points, that qualifies as off for the KU sophomore who has had a fantastic and remarkably consistent season. Mason missed the only two three-pointers he tried and turned it over twice. He did hit 3 of 4 free throw attempts, though, so to call his night a reason to sigh is a bit of a stretch unless you are specifically talking about his scoring.

One for the road

The Jayhawks' come-from-behind victory over Baylor:

• Made Kansas 21-4 overall and gave Kansas 21 victories for the 26th-straight season.

• Pushed KU to 10-2 in league play, giving KU 10 or more conference victories for the 20th-consecutive season.

• Pushed KU's edge in the all-time series vs. Baylor to 23-4, including a 13-0 mark in games played in Lawrence.

• Marked KU's fourth-straight win against Baylor.

• Extended KU’s win streak inside Allen Fieldhouse to 21 games, the 11th-longest home winning streak in KU history.

• Improved the Jayhawks to 12-0 in Allen Fieldhouse this season, 725-109 all-time in the venue and 187-9 under head coach Bill Self.

• Improved Self to 346-73 while at Kansas, 15-4 against Baylor (15-3 at Kansas) and 553-178 overall.

• Made KU 2,147-825 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks head to West Virginia for a Big Monday showdown with one of the best pressure defense teams in the country. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. on ESPN.

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Baylor, 74-64

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Baylor, 74-64

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The Day After: A three-point takedown at Texas Tech

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) shoots a three-point basket against Texas Tech during the first half Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) shoots a three-point basket against Texas Tech during the first half Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Judging by the response on Twitter, our live game blog and the comments section below the stories from last night's 73-51 victory over Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, we may have entered the point in the season where three-point lovers have separated themselves from three-point likers.

Tuesday night in its trouncing of Texas Tech, the Kansas University men's basketball team, once again, was red hot from three-point land, finishing with 11 makes in 20 attempts, including 6 of 7 in the second half.

The Jayhawks made 10 of 20 in Saturday's loss to Oklahoma State and, for the season, now have made eight or more threes in a game 11 times in 24 tries and are shooting .409 from three-point range as a team. In case you're unaware, that's damn good.

The question that has popped up — and in some ways divided the KU fan base — is should KU shoot more three-pointers because the team has proven to be so effective from behind the arc? KU coach Bill Self doesn't think so, calling such a high percentage from three-point land “fool's gold.”

I happen to agree with Self and think it's risky business to become so reliant on the three-point shot, regardless of a team's percentage from deep or the fact that three is worth more than two.

Either way you slice it, this team appears, at least for now, to be most comfortable hanging out behind the line and firing away. Because the Jayhawks don't have a dominant (or even reliable) low post presence, this, to many, seems to be the best way for KU to run offense. But as Self pointed out in his postgame comments, there are plenty of ways to score outside of the post and inside of the three-point line. Transition buckets, 15-footers, drives to the basket that produce layups, dunks or free throws. All are viable options that well-rounded offensive teams routinely employ. This team has not consistently shown it understands that and until it does, it looks like it'll be a live-by-the-three-die-by-the-three scenario for the Jayhawks.

Time will tell how that works out, but at 20-4 on the season and 9-2 in Big 12 play, it's hard to argue too strongly against it, regardless of your basketball philosophies.

Quick takeaway

Cliff Alexander made just his second start of the season in this one and he looked much better against the Red Raiders than he has in a number of games. Alexander was active in the paint, both in protecting the rim and cleaning up the glass, and, although he proved over and over that he still has a long way to go in terms of playing fast and free and avoiding silly fouls or bad mistakes, what Alexander offered was much better than what Jamari Traylor has brought to the floor in recent games. Traylor still played 19 minutes and has a role on this team. But if the Jayhawks want to be true contenders, they need to bring Alexander along to the next level and Tuesday night was a good step toward that progress.

Three reasons to smile

1 – After firing up 13 three-pointers in the first half, the Jayhawks heeded their coach's words in the second half and put greater emphasis on scoring inside the arc. Fans don't have to like it, players don't have to like it, but if Self says they need to do it, they probably should find a way to do it. KU made 6 of 7 three-point shots in the second half but also scored 28 points inside the three-point line, one more than the Jayhawks scored in the entire first half. Nobody here is arguing against the three-point shot as an offensive weapon, but, at least to me, it's clear that this team is best when it finds balance.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) dunks off a pass from Frank Mason III, in the second half of the Jayhawks 73-51 win over Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) dunks off a pass from Frank Mason III, in the second half of the Jayhawks 73-51 win over Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

2 – Even though it didn't last, I thought KU delivered a great response to a crappy start to Tuesday night's game. Credit two Cliff Alexander blocks and a pair of three-pointers, along with better overall urgency than we've seen of late, for putting the Jayhawks up 8-2 and eventually 15-4 when they easily could have been trailing during the first few minutes given the number of turnovers and missed shots they had in the initial stretch of the game.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) left attempts a block on  Texas Tech guard Robert Turner (14) during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) left attempts a block on Texas Tech guard Robert Turner (14) during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

3 – I already mentioned Alexander's solid game, but I think the one aspect of it that stood out the most was his defensive presence in the paint. Alexander finished with four of KU's seven blocks and each one of them brought back oh-so-subtle visions of Jeff Withey — dare we call it a Cliffy Block Party? — in that Alexander didn't just try to block the shot, he tried to humiliate the guy taking the shot. That kind of edge and presence could be huge for the Jayhawks down the stretch.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – As good as the Jayhawks were during that opening stretch of the game, they were equally as bad in allowing the Red Raiders to tie the game at 20 and be in the game at the half. I realize that no matter how good you are, you can't just blow everybody out, but had Wayne Selden not knocked down that three from the corner — which Frank Mason should get most of the credit for after making a tremendous play and pass to get him the ball — KU would have led by just two over a lousy team after jumping out to a 15-4 lead. The strong second half made that a mere afterthought, but it speaks further to this team's inconsistency.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III, (0) passes from beneath the basket during the Jayhawks 73-51 win against Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III, (0) passes from beneath the basket during the Jayhawks 73-51 win against Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena. by Mike Yoder

2 – We've already talked a lot about three-pointers in this Day After and I don't want anyone to think that I'm anti-three-pointer by any means. But when you see a team get three three-pointers blocked in a single half, I think you're looking at a team that has fallen a little too in love with the long-range bomb. In at least two of the three situations where Tech blocked a KU trey, a simple shot fake followed by two dribbles and a pull-up would have produced a wide open 15-foot jumper. I know that sounds a little too Bob Knight for some of you, but doesn't it also sound better than getting a three-pointer blocked? I'm all for the three-pointers if they come within the flow of the offense, are a result of good ball movement and are open looks. Anything else, though, seems like lazy, selfish basketball.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) heads to the basket for two points on a fast break against Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) heads to the basket for two points on a fast break against Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

3 – Piggy-backing on the three-point theme of this blog, I'd really like to see Kelly Oubre be one of the guys who attacks the rim more. I think his frame, length and general good size are all ideal for a guy who could slash to the rim and, at the very least, draw some more fouls. Oubre finished with just six points — on two made three-pointers and zero attempts from inside the arc — and has looked a little out of sorts offensively for the past few games. I know people didn't always think Andrew Wiggins was all he should have been offensively, but that guy knew how to attack the paint and get to the free throw line and KU would definitely benefit from someone on this team filling that role, as well.

One for the road

The Jayhawks' second rout of the Red Raiders this season...

• Marked the 26th year in a row that Kansas has tallied 20 or more wins, the longest active streak in the NCAA. (North Carolina holds the record with 31-consecutive 20 win seasons from 1970-71 to 2000-01).

• Guaranteed KU at least a .500 record in conference play, which is also the 26th-consecutive season that KU has posted a .500 or better record in league action (beginning in 1989-90), tying the third-longest active streak in the NCAA with Kentucky and behind only Xavier (32) and Murray State (27).

• Extended KU’s win streak against Texas Tech to 12 in a row and improved KU’s all-time series advantage against Texas Tech to 29-4, including a 22-4 mark in Big 12 games.

• Marked the fifth straight win for KU against TTU inside United Supermarkets Arena (formerly United Spirit Arena), and improved Kansas to 11-4 against Tech in Lubbock (7-3 in Tech's current arena).

• Improved Self to 345-73 while at Kansas, 16-6 against Texas Tech (15-3 at Kansas) and 552-178 overall.

• Made KU 2,146-826 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks return home Saturday, when they'll take on No. 21 Baylor at noon at Allen Fieldhouse. The last time these two faced each other,the Jayhawks beat the Bears 56-55 Jan. 7 in Waco, Texas, in a hard-fought Big 12 opener for Kansas.

By the Numbers: Kansas wins at Texas Tech, 73-51

By the Numbers: Kansas wins at Texas Tech, 73-51

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Talent in Kansas? Big 12 football programs found plenty

With national signing day now in the rearview mirror, ESPN.com Big 12 blogger Jake Trotter recently scoured the conference's recruiting classes and found that 115 of the 229 players who signed with Big 12 schools this February were from Texas.

Big surprise, right? Of course not. But the state that ranked third on the list just might be.

Kansas, that's right the Sunflower State you all know and love, ranked third in the 2015 class with 13 athletes signing national letters of intent with Big 12 schools this season.

The Jayhawks, who finished with 24 players in their 2015 class, picked up two of those, with three-star Bishop Miege quarterback Ryan Willis and three-star Butler C.C. offensive lineman Will Smith inking with Kansas. Not surprisingly, Kansas State picked up the lion's share of that group, with six of the 20 signed players in K-State's 2015 class coming from Kansas.

All six of those — along with three others who Rivals.com lists as committed but not yet signed — are Kansas high school prospects, including Lawrence's own Scott Frantz, a Free State High offensive lineman, who had offers from Iowa State, Kansas, Miami (Florida), Minnesota, Missouri and Purdue among others.

Outside of those two Big 12 schools, Oklahoma State (3) and Iowa State (2) also plucked a few players out of the Sunflower State, with all five of their signees coming from the Kansas juco scene.

Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Boise State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and roughly two dozen other schools also signed Kansas kids, most of those from the juco ranks. The combination of the prominent place in the Big 12 standings along with the attention given to Kansas prospects from conferences around the country only adds clarity to the reason first-year KU coach David Beaty and his staff are striving to make in-state recruits a big-time priority for the future of Kansas football.

"We want to do a good job of keeping the best players in the state of Kansas right here at home at their university. That is top priority for us, and we do that by building relationships not only with them but with their coaches and their parents and the families and the fans. We want to develop a walk-on program because we only get so many scholarships a year, and there's a lot of guys out there in the state of Kansas that want to be a part of their great program, and that walk-on program can be powerful. We want it to be the most powerful walk-on program in the country, and that's a goal of ours. We want to open the doors to more than just 25 a year of the great athletes that there are here in the great state of Kansas. We truly want this to become a Kansas identity football team. We're going to hit the state of Texas, we're going to hit the state of Oklahoma, we're going to hit the state of Missouri, but make no mistake, it'll be a Kansas identity football team." — DAVID BEATY, Dec. 8, 2014

Here's a look at Trotter's per-state break down of recruiting in the Big 12 in 2015:

  1. Texas — 115
  2. Florida – 19
  3. Kansas – 13
  4. Georgia – 11
  5. Louisiana – 11
  6. Oklahoma – 10
  7. California – 8
  8. Mississippi – 6
  9. Maryland – 5
  10. Ohio – 4
  11. Illinois – 3
  12. Iowa – 3
  13. Missouri – 2
  14. New Jersey – 2
  15. Virginia – 2
  16. West Virginia – 2

Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Canada all had one each.

For a complete look at some more interesting recruiting trends in the Big 12 this year, including how the conference's football programs are expanding their recruiting into new territory, check out Trotter's blog.

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Iowa State’s Big Monday loss at Oklahoma a big development in Big 12 race

Kansas head coach Bill Self grins as he waves to the fans following the Jayhawks' 89-76 win over Iowa State on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self grins as he waves to the fans following the Jayhawks' 89-76 win over Iowa State on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

For roughly the first 15 minutes of the Iowa State-Oklahoma Big Monday basketball game in Norman, Oklahoma, the Cyclones looked like they were ready to put some real pressure on Kansas for the top spot in the Big 12 standings.

A victory by ISU would've pulled the Cyclones within a half game of the Jayhawks and put at least palpable pressure on the team that has ruled the conference for the past decade.

But OU, which trailed by as many as 10 late in the first half, closed the half with a monster run to tie the game at 46 and then shot lights out in the second half while building a 20-point lead en route to a 94-83 victory.

The win moved OU into second place at 8-4 in Big 12 play and dropped Iowa State to third at 7-4. With KU sitting at 8-2 heading into Tuesday's night's road battle at Texas Tech, the Jayhawks, once again, appear to be in great shape in the race to win their 11th straight Big 12 title, two wins clear of both teams in the loss column with eight games to play.

Here's the thing. Both Oklahoma and Iowa State are plenty talented enough to threaten KU's streak, but both teams are running out of time. The Cyclones don't play KU again and, therefore, will need some serious help to catch Kansas. Oklahoma has one more head-to-head match-up with KU on the schedule, but it's not until March 7. Given the way things have played out in the Big 12 Conference so far this season, is there anyone out there who thinks OU will avoid suffering another loss before then?

One thing that's important to remember is that these two teams play each other again — Monday, March 2 in Ames, Iowa — so at least one of them is guaranteed to finish with at least five conference losses.

West Virginia, at 6-4, is the only other team in the Big 12 with four losses, but the Mountaineers have lost two straight and still have to go to Ames, Lawrence, Stillwater and Waco. WVU has the most to gain in that it plays KU head-to-head two more times, but Bob Huggins' squad also has the toughest remaining schedule of the four Big 12 title contenders.

Real quick, let's take a look at KU's remaining road to Big 12 title No. 11 by examining the remaining schedules for all four teams and my guesses for the outcome of those games.

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

No. 21 WEST VIRGINIA (18-5, 6-4)

Wednesday, Feb. 11 — vs. Kansas State (W)
Saturday, Feb. 14 — at Iowa State (L)
Monday, Feb. 16 — vs. Kansas (W)
Saturday, Feb. 21 — at Oklahoma State (L)
Tuesday, Feb. 24 — vs. Texas (W)
Saturday, Feb. 28 — at Baylor (L)
Tuesday, March 3 — at Kansas (L)
Saturday, March 7 — vs. Oklahoma State (W)

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) celebrates during the Sooners' comeback against Kansas during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) celebrates during the Sooners' comeback against Kansas during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

No. 17 OKLAHOMA (17-7, 8-4)

Saturday, Feb. 14 — at Kansas State (W)
Tuesday, Feb. 17 — vs. Texas (W)
Saturday, Feb. 21 — at Texas Tech (W)
Saturday, Feb. 28 — vs. TCU (W)
Monday, March 2 — at Iowa State (L)
Saturday, March 7 — vs. Kansas (W)

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay (1) questions a foul called against him during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay (1) questions a foul called against him during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

No. 14 IOWA STATE (17-6, 7-4)

Saturday, Feb. 14 — vs. West Virginia (W)
Wednesday, Feb. 18 — at Oklahoma State (L)
Saturday, Feb. 21 — at Texas (W)
Wednesday, Feb. 25 — vs. Baylor (W)
Saturday, Feb. 28 — at Kansas State (W)
Monday, March 2 — vs. Oklahoma (W)
Saturday, March 7 — at TCU (W)

No. 8 KANSAS (19-4, 8-2)

Tuesday, Feb. 10 — at Texas Tech (W)
Saturday, Feb. 14 — vs. Baylor (W)
Monday, Feb. 16 — at West Virginia (L)
Saturday, Feb. 21 — vs. TCU (W)
Monday, Feb. 23 — at Kansas State (W)
Saturday, Feb. 28 — vs. Texas (W)
Tuesday, March 3 — vs. West Virginia (W)
Saturday, March 7 — at Oklahoma (L)

As you can see, even if you call KU's game at OU a loss, I've got the Jayhawks winning the league with 4 losses. And I don't think that's a stretch by any means. Remember, KU has just nine home losses in the Bill Self era at Allen Fieldhouse. Because of that, you won't have any luck convincing me that any of KU's four remaining home opponents will leave Allen Fieldhouse with a victory.

That leaves it up to KU's performance on the road, where the Jayhawks have won and looked good at Baylor and Texas and lost and looked lousy at Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

Speaking of Oklahoma State, how about that team. They're arguably the hottest team in the conference right now and playing with a ton of confidence. I can't wait for the Big 12 tournament!

Three of KU's four road games could and probably should be legitimate tests. West Virginia is tough at home and a bad match-up given how effective the Mountaineers' pressure defense is. Kansas State, despite the current turmoil in Manhattan, will clearly be fired up for Round 2 of the Sunflower Showdown. And Oklahoma is talented, tough and not afraid to play fast.

Texas Tech on Tuesday night, despite that old saying about how hard winning on the road in the Big 12 is, should be no problem for an angry KU team still reeling from Saturday's upset loss in Stillwater.

Tough or not, the odds are long that KU will lose all three of those other road games. So, let's say they win one, lose two, beat Texas Tech and take care of business at home.

That puts the Jayhawks at 25-6 overall and 14-4 in Big 12 play and puts the creative minds inside the KU athletic department on notice to start brainstorming T-Shirt-worthy ways to celebrate title No. 11.

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The Day After: Outplayed in Oklahoma

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) and Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) vent after a foul was called against the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) and Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) vent after a foul was called against the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

Saturday's 67-62 loss at Oklahoma State by the Kansas University men's basketball team continued the Jekyll and Hyde pace of the season for the Jayhawks, who have shown a wild tendency to look amazing one game and lousy the next, sometimes even good and bad from half to half.

This team has avoided the fate of having that trend produce a .500 record, but Saturday's effort certainly made for a .500 afternoon. Great for one half and lost for the other.

KU coach Bill Self said after the game that he didn't think his team had played all that well in the first half, rather they “just made shots.”

“If you go 7-of-9 from three, you should have a lead,” he added.

And the Jayhawks certainly did. After leading by 14 at one point, KU settled on a 41-30 first-half lead and cruised to the locker room in total control. But rather than roll over, Oklahoma State found a way to get fired up in the other locker room and came out on fire. The Cowboys took their first lead of the second half less than four minutes into it and then controlled the rest of the game the way the Jayhawks controlled the first half.

Despite a terrible second half, KU found a way to hang close and actually had a possession to tie it inside 30 seconds, but the Jayhawks' trend of sloppy, sluggish offense in the second half did them in down the stretch, as well, and OSU snagged the victory that set off a court storming for the second year in a row.

Quick takeaway

I talked about it on the radio last week and wrote about it after the game: If I'm any one of KU's future opponents, I open the game with a press and see what that can get me. I don't care if pressing is not in your arsenal. Against these Jayhawks, at least right now, you better find a way to get it there because, to date, KU has not shown it can handle the press very well at all. Part of that is a lack of experience against it. Part of that is a lack of the type of intensity and focus needed to really execute against a press. And another part of it is bad energy. Rather than taking it as a challenge and desiring to prove that they can beat the press, the Jayhawks appear annoyed and flustered by it and one turnover or mistake quickly turns into two or three, which, in turn, fuels the team applying the pressure, particularly on the road. There's no doubt that KU has the talent and coaching to figure out how to handle pressure better. But what started as a little hiccup late in victories against TCU and Iowa State has become a full-blown problem.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Regardless of when they came or how tough they were to get in the second half, KU's shooting was red-hot from behind the arc. Kansas hit 7 of 9 from downtown in the first half and finished the game 10-of-20 from three-point range overall. No matter what the result, knocking in 50 percent of your shots from three-point range makes for a good day in that department.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) roars after a three during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) roars after a three during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

2 – The Jayhawks weren't good in many areas — especially individually — but they were OK on the boards. That probably shouldn't go down as a reason to smile, given KU's size advantage, but let's face it there weren't many other reasons to smile. KU matched OSU rebound-for-rebound, snagging 13 offensive boards and 22 defensive boards. There were times when Jamari Traylor (4) and Perry Ellis (3) looked great on the offensive glass, but, again, with KU's superior size it probably should've held a 5-10 rebounding advantage over the Cowboys.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) eyes his man while adjusting his socks at half court during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) eyes his man while adjusting his socks at half court during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

3 – Cliff Alexander looked slow and a little lost at times, especially during the hustle moments when the ball was loose or up for grabs. But he was the only Jayhawk to hit better than 50 percent of his shots and finished 4-of-5 from the floor for 8 points and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes. The 16 minutes show you just how not into the game Alexander was from an effort and energy standpoint, but, offensively, he did well when he was in there.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – I asked Self after the game who he felt he and this team should look to for an energy boost during moments like the start of the second half when the other team is taking it to KU. His answer was the same one we've heard all season — Jamari Traylor — but, for the first time, Self was not praising Traylor's energy and instead seemed very annoyed by his lack of it. Traylor had a couple of moments where he played under control and took it strong to the basket on offense, but he coughed up six turnovers against zero assists — alarming numbers for one of the team's veterans — and carried that signature bad body language with him for way too many minutes.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) takes some ribbing from the Oklahoma State student section before inbounding the ball during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) takes some ribbing from the Oklahoma State student section before inbounding the ball during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

2 – KU's free throw shooting, in general, was bad (10-of-19 overall, 2-of-6 in the second half), but Frank Mason's struggles at the line seem to be a bigger problem. Mason, who is shooting .759 from the free throw line for the season (second best on the team), missed the front end of two crucial one-and-ones late in the game, which wound up costing the Jayhawks precious points and feeding the Oklahoma State momentum. It's easy to look at the 10-of-19 total and say, “If they just would've made five more free throws,” but sometimes it's more the how and when they're missing them that hurts the most.

Kansas head coach Bill Self shows his frustration after a string of turnovers by the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas head coach Bill Self shows his frustration after a string of turnovers by the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

3 – There's no denying that this team has a ton of individual talent, good depth and a great shot to still win the Big 12 title. Saturday did not change any of that. But I did see moments, especially when KU got up by double digits, where it looked as if these guys just kind of expected that because their jerseys say “Kansas” and they play in this powerhouse program that it should or at least could be easy. Lazy bounce passes, poor execution and a lack of fire all made me wonder if they're still a little too drunk on power to realize that, at KU, you have to make sure you at least match your opponent's intensity night in and night out because they're going to be gunning for you every time. This team has gone up and down in that area all season and usually looked great when challenged with a hugely hyped game or following a loss. But if they truly want to make any kind of memorable run in March, they've got to find a way to bring that against the TCUs and Texas Techs of the world as easily as they do against the Iowa States and big-name programs.

One for the road

KU's second consecutive loss in Stillwater, Oklahoma:

• Snapped KU's five-game winning streak and made the Jayhawks 8-2 in Big 12 play for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

• Dropped KU’s all-time advantage in the series with Oklahoma State to 110-56, including a 21-9 mark in Big 12 games.

• Marked the second straight win for OSU against KU inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, tying the series at 33-33 inside the facility.

• Made Self 344-73 while at Kansas, 14-10 against his alma mater (13-7 at Kansas) and 551-178 overall.

• Made KU 2,145-826 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks will stay on the road for a 8 p.m. Tuesday meeting with Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. href="http://www2.kusports.com/news/2015/ja...">KU destroyed the Red Raiders 86-54 on Jan. 10 in Lawrence.

By the Numbers: Oklahoma State beats Kansas, 67-62

By the Numbers: Oklahoma State beats Kansas, 67-62

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Rise & Sign: 2015 KU football class ready to make it official on National Signing Day

New KU QB Carter Stanley rockin' his KU gear on his big day…

New KU QB Carter Stanley rockin' his KU gear on his big day… by Matt Tait

12:29 p.m. Update:

One more comprehensive look at the Class of 2015, with quotes from several KU coaches…

DE Dorance Armstrong – 6-4, 225, 3 stars, North Shore High, Galena Park, Texas – Powerful pass rusher chose Kansas over offers from nine other Power 5 Conference programs, including Cal, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Michigan State and Northwestern.

“Dorance is a young man who we are excited about in terms of what he brings, especially for our needs on our defense. He is a true athletic defensive end with a good pass rush and range. He will be a young man who can have a huge impact on the program once he reaches his full potential.” — Defensive Coordinator Clint Bowen

DB Shola Ayinde – 6-0, 168, 2 stars, George Ranch High, Richmond, Texas – Relatively new to the secondary, former WR chose Kansas after previously having been committed to Tulsa.

“I had him in camp and had him on my radar. He is a great kid and very explosive. I think his upside is years to come. I think he is still learning how to play cornerback and is raw. He is real fast, a 4.4 40-yard dash kid.” — DBs coach Kenny Perry

WR Jeremiah Booker – 6-3, 187, 2 stars, College Station (Texas) High – The College Station connection for David Beaty and Klint Kubiak came through here, as the two-star receiver picked KU over Nevada, New Mexico and interest from Oklahoma State.

“Jeremiah Booker has great size. He runs very well for a 6-foot-3 player. He has excellent ball skills and more than anything he is under the radar. He is from College Station, Texas—which doesn’t get recruited a whole lot. He has competed against the best in the state of Texas and succeeded against the best. We are very lucky to have him.” — WR coach Klint Kubiak

DB Denzel Feaster - 6-3, 195, 2 stars, Manor High, Austin, Texas - Late pick-up chose Kansas over offers from Miami (Ohio), North Texas and New Mexico.

“Denzel Feaster is a tall, rangy guy. He is one of those full-speed strike guys. When he comes downhill to tackle he doesn’t hit the brakes at all, he sticks his nose in there. He is new to the position, but shows a lot of potential to be one of the better safeties in the Big 12.” — D.C. Clint Bowen

OL Aaron Garza – 6-2, 287, 3 stars, Sherman (Texas) High – Previous Texas Longhorns commitment was one of the first in the class to commit to KU. He held offers from Arizona State, Auburn, USC, Baylor, Oklahoma State and others.

“He is a tough-nosed kid. He is a road-grader type of guy. He is big and strong. He loves the game. He has completely changed his body. He has lost a bunch of weight because it means something to him. He is smart, tough kid who just wants to get better. He is everything you look for in an offensive lineman.” — O-Line coach Zach Yenser

WR Chase Harrell - 6-4, 205, 2 stars, Hargrave High, Huffman, Texas - Signed this week after graduating early from high school and will be in town for spring practices. Picked KU over Houston and Kentucky.

“Chase is an extremely large human. He is imposing and has great length. He is a very physical, tough blocker which is something that is very hard to find at that position. He has great ball skills. He was one of the better players in Houston and in my opinion we got a steal.” — WRs coach Klint Kubiak

RB Taylor Martin - 5-10, 180, 2 stars, Dunbar High, Fort Worth, Texas - Picked Kansas over offer from Colorado State.

“Taylor stands out because he has great breakaway speed. He has good vision and a lot of natural running ability. We are really looking forward to him joining our program.” — Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell

OL Clyde McCauley – 6-5, 275, 2 stars, Bowie High, Arlington, Texas – Committed to Fresno State back in August, but KU cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry lured the big tackle to Lawrence. Also had offers from Louisiana-Monroe and San Diego State.

“Clyde’s ceiling is so high. He is long and athletic. He has more of a tackle body. He is a tough kid and that is what we are looking for to play on the edge. We think he can do that with his athletic ability and physicality. He is tough and can get out and play in space.” — O-Line coach Zach Yenser

DB Tyrone Miller – 6-0, 178, 2 stars, Saline (Michigan) High — Fast and physical safety initially drew interest from Michigan and Michigan State and chose Kansas because of bond with Michigan native and KU recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell.

“Tyrone is a very versatile athlete. He can play corner or safety. He has good cover skills and is an outstanding performer on special teams.” — Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell

WR Emmanuel Moore – 6-0, 190, 2 stars, Northwest High, Justin, Texas — First player to commit to Beaty chose KU over North Texas, SMU and Minnesota.

“He is a 6-foot-0, 200-pound wide receiver who runs like a running back after he catches the ball. He is a slot receiver who also does kick returns. He has the most strength of anyone in our class as far as the skill positions go. He is a very powerful guy and we are lucky to have him.” — WR coach Klint Kubiak

LB Osaze Ogbebor — 6-1, 210, 2 stars, Heritage High, Frisco, Texas — Lone linebacker in 2015 class — pronounced Oh-saws — picked KU over New Mexico State, Tulsa and UTEP.

“Osaze is a 210-pound kid who runs the 100-meter dash in track. He doesn’t only run it, but he runs it well. He has great speed and plays with a physical toughness about him. He is a good tackler and a smart young man that has great upside to him. He is a perfect fit for the Big 12.” — D-Line coach Calvin Thibodeaux

DB Marnez Ogletree - 5-10, 190, 2 stars, Fullerton College - Chose KU the night before signing day and picked the Jayhawks over offers from Boise State, Indiana and others.

“He is going to be the total package from a return guy to a defensive back. He was a junior college kid and already has a leg up on a lot of these guys and has played against a lot of athletic kids out in California. He has great speed and comes from a program in Atlanta that has put out some real good corners. He is a physical kid and knows how to tackle. He is already at 200-lbs and is real fast.” — DBs coach Kenny Perry

DB Shaq Richmond – 6-0, 180, 3 stars, Timberview High, Arlington, Texas — Committed to KU without making a campus visit after being wooed to town by Mitchell. Picked Kansas over Louisville, New Mexico, SMU and UTEP.

“He comes from a good program in Mansfield Timberview. He is a rangy corner and his upside is unbelievable. Right now he is about six-foot tall and 185-lbs. He is a physical kid with good ball-playing skills. I think he is going to be a contributor early for us on defense.” — DBs coach Kenny Perry

WR Steven Sims – 5-10, 165, 2 stars, Travis High, Richmond, Texas — Known as a nifty play-maker in space, Sims picked KU over offers from McNeese State, Southeast Louisiana and Stephen F. Austin.

“Steven Sims is a slot receiver who has probably the best shiftiness of any of the players in the city of Houston. He was a runner up for offensive player of the year in the city and there is a reason for that. He has great athletic ability and ball skills and you can’t tackle him in a phone booth.” — WRs coach Klint Kubiak

QB Carter Stanley – 6-2, 188, 2 stars, Vero Beach (Florida) High — Dual-threat prospect who committed to KU in mid-January chose the Jayhawks over UConn and late interest from Penn State, Miami (Florida) and Texas Tech.

“Carter is a great kid, who comes from a great family. He is very competitive and is kind of a late bloomer of sorts in terms of the starting quarterback role. He paid his dues and when he got the reins, he took it. We are very excited for what he can do to our offense. He is a big, tall kid, thick, and can run. He throws the ball well and will be able to create a lot of mismatches for defenses.” — Linebackers coach Kevin Kane

TE Jace Sternberger – 6-4, 225, 2 stars, Kingfisher (Oklahoma) High — Two-way player who is versatile enough to play in the H-Back role chose KU over offers from New Mexico, Sam Houston State and South Dakota.

“He is 6-4, 220 pounds and very athletic. We want to get him the ball in space so that when he is flexed out away from the formation he creates a very tough match up for defenses in that he is bigger and more physical than a secondary player and he faster and more athletic than an outside backer. That, offensively, is very intriguing and we are excited to find ways to get him the ball. He is very physical so in the backfield when he is attached to the formation he is physical enough to kick out or seal in the run game which again creates an advantage for the offense.” — Special Teams coach Gary Hyman

QB Ryan Willis – 6-4, 201, 3 stars, Bishop Miege High — First player to commit in KU's 2015 Class, the No. 3-rated pro style QB in Kansas chose KU over Illinois, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wyoming.

“Ryan is a very smart quarterback. I love the way he manages a game. I love the way he gets the ball out of his hand. He finds his matchups down the field and finds his open receivers. He knows where he is going to go with the ball before the ball is snapped. He is a good enough athlete to get himself out of trouble with his feet. I was very impressed with his ability to get the ball out of his hand to his best players as fast as possible.” — Offensive Coordinator Rob Likens

10:36 a.m. Update:

All right, well that was fast. I've never seen a recruiting class wrap up so quickly and easily like the 2015 crew at KU.

As I mentioned earlier, I think that's a great sign about this coaching staff's ability to not only get these guys to commit to Kansas but also to get them excited about signing and keep them from looking around elsewhere at the last minute.

Signing Day can be an incredibly stressful day for a coaching staff but I'm guessing it was all smiles in the KU football offices this morning. It does not seem like those guys had to worry about a single player.

Now, that's not to say they got every guy they targeted or that this is a can't-miss class. But it speaks a great deal to the bond these guys were able to create with the new Jayhawks and, when you consider that they had less than two months to establish those bonds, that's pretty impressive.

OK, enough patting the staff on the back. Let's get into the nuts and bolts of this class and break things down a little bit.

Here's my very early, very raw look at a few categories that people always find interesting and find themselves asking around signing day. Take it with a grain of salt and remember that it's all based on watching some film and making a few phone calls.

Top 5 Juco Prospects in KU's 2015 Class

1. Brandon Stewart – CB – Advanced cover skills and the size to handle any type of wide receiver.

2. Bazie Bates IV – S – Solid player who played both corner and safety and could handle any number of roles in the secondary. He'll play.

3. Marnez Ogletree – CB – Late pick-up has KU coaches pretty excited. Like Stewart, he could easily emerge as a starting cornerback and also may factor into the kick return game.

4. Jayson Rhodes – OL – KU's need at tackle is significant and the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Rhodes has played there his entire life.

5. Ke'aun Kinner – RB – With Avery, Mann and Cox already back there, the need for another running back to emerge is not necessarily that great. But Kinner has wheels, is shifty and is hard to bring down. Red-shirting him wouldn't be the worst thing for the program.

Top 5 High School Prospects in KU's 2015 Class

1. Dorance Armstrong – DE – Three-star pass rush specialist already seems physical enough to play college ball. Now just needs to show he can handle the mental demands of playing defense in the Big 12.

2. Aaron Garza – OL – Former Texas commitment has solid written all over him. With time to develop, could easily become a 3- or 4-year starter.

3. Carter Stanley – QB – Stanley didn't get a ton of interest early on, but some bigger schools came calling late. Mobility sets him apart and he appears to have supreme confidence in his game. Could easily see him pushing for starting job right away.

4. Tyrone Miller – S – Good mix of fast and physical, Miller has played safety and cornerback and has the size to adjust quickly.

5. Steven Sims – WR – A couple of recruiting analysts I talked to who specialize in scouting Texas said this kid is ready to play in the Big 12 right now.

5 Players who I see playing right away

1. Brandon Stewart – CB – KU lost two quality corners to graduation and a third if you count the often-hyped Kevin Short. Starting spots are available.

2. Marnez Ogletree – CB – KU lost two quality corners to graduation and a third if you count the often-hyped Kevin Short. Starting spots are available.

3. Chase Harrell – WR – KU is looking for receivers to emerge and his frame (6-4, 205) and early enrollment should give him a chance to get out there quickly.

4. Bazie Bates – DB – Too talented to keep off the field. He came to KU for the chance to play right away and he'll find it.

5. Dorance Armstrong – DE – Questions remain at the edge rusher spots and even though KU has options here, very few of them are proven, which gives Armstrong a shot to compete on an even playing field.

5 Players who need time but have solid potential

1. Cam Durley – OL – Has limited experience as a football player but the kind of raw tools that make coaches salivate. 6-6, 285, 78-inch wing span and good feet.

2. Clyde McCauley – OL – Clyde “The Glide” as he calls himself has a huge frame, good feet and comes from a big time prep program. If he's allowed to spend his first year in Lawrence getting stronger and adjusting to college ball, he could be a beast during his red-shirt freshman season and beyond.

3. Jeremiah Booker – WR – At 6-foot-3, Booker is one of the rare receivers in the program with that kind of height. Given that Beaty & Company are going with the Air Raid attack, there's a place for a guy like this once he gets a little stronger.

4. Taylor Martin – RB – Drew interest from TCU, Illinois and K-State. That should tell you what kind of player we're talking about. Now he just needs to adjust to the college grind and wait for his turn.

5. Jace Sternberger – TE – Classic Oklahoma kid who was tough enough to play defensive end in high school. There are a couple of players on the depth chart ahead of him, so time will help, but Sternberger's a great athlete with good size who might remind some of Derek Fine, another Okie.

Position this class helped the most: DEFENSIVE BACK – There's enough talent in this class alone to field a starting secondary. However, with safeties Isaiah Johnson and Fish Smithson back, and young cornerback Matthew Boateng still emerging, the added help in the defensive backfield could make the loss of JaCorey Shepherd, Dexter McDonald and Cassius Sendish easier to swallow.

Position this class helped the least: DEFENSIVE LINE – Armstrong looks like a nice player in the making and juco transfer Jacky Dezir might be able to get onto the field quickly since he'll be here in time for spring ball, but there's not another D-Lineman in the class and the limited number is the issue.

The Beat Goes On: RUNNING BACK - Reggie Mitchell did his thing once again and landed two pretty quality running backs in this class. When you look at DeAndre Mann, Corey Avery and Taylor Cox all in the mix this fall and the possibility of Traevohn Wrench coming back to KU next year, the future of the running back position continues to be bright and should be a strength of future KU teams.

How 'bout those names: The KU coaches were not shy about adding some interesting names to the roster. Whether you're talking about Nigerian-rooted names like Shola Ayinde and Osaze Ogbebor or funky first names like Dorance, Bazie and another Ke'aun (following in the footsteps of Keon Stowers and Keyon Haughton), this crew has plenty of names that'll keep broadcasters on their toes.

8:51 a.m. Update:

Here's the scoop on OL Cam Durley. He told me last night that he didn't think he would sign this morning because his school wanted to do something for him later in the week. Sounds like it'll be official on Thursday or Friday.

From what I've been able to gather, that's just fine with the KU coaching staff and the only thing it will delay is their ability to talk about him at today's press conference and tonight's signing day party at Abe & Jake's. But that's small potatoes compared to the opportunity to land a guy with the kind of potential that Durley has.

They are over the limit of 24 by one and I can only assume that that means one of these guys is going to be a gray shirt, which is a player who reports to campus with everyone else but pays his own way that first semester and does not get to have anything official to do with the program until the spring semester. It basically gives you a chance to get a kid one semester early and, in this case, is the equivalent of a 2016 recruit graduating high school early and getting to campus in time for next spring the way Chase Harrell has for this spring.

So that's it for this morning. Everyone who was expected to sign and send their letters to KU has done so. Again, just an impressive feat to get all of those letters by 8 a.m. or so.

Stay right here throughout the morning for more feedback on this class as well as any photos and reaction from recruits that might trickle in. I'm expecting to get several and will definitely jump back in here with some more thoughts on the crew KU just locked up.

As for the hard part, though, that's a wrap. Now the fun begins of analyzing these guys and sharing some of the nuggets I was able to get from them during the past couple weeks.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
WR Chase Harrell
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis
DB Shaq Richmond
TE Jace Sternberger
RB Taylor Martin
OL Clyde McCauley
WR Emmanuel Moore

8:41 a.m. Update:

Just ran across this photo of Denzel Feaster on a KU Football account. Good look at the young man's size. Beaty's not the biggest dude, but he's not tiny either. Feaster was a big-time pick up.

New KU safety Denzel Feaster with head coach David Beaty during a recent visit.

New KU safety Denzel Feaster with head coach David Beaty during a recent visit. by Matt Tait

8:21 a.m. Update:

Here's the official announcement from Marnez Ogletree, which came about 25 minutes ago… He's back home in Lawrenceville, Georgia, which is why he was able to sign and send so early despite having played his juco ball out in California.

None by Marnez Ogletree™

8:13 a.m. Update:

KU has added WR Emmanuel Moore to its list — he was one I couldn't track down — so that brings us to 17 and I've got a call in to O-lineman Cam Durley, who just freakin' committed yesterday, but it looks like his letter has been sent too. When I talked to him yesterday, he said he was planning on sending it as early as he could but still had to talk to his coaches and everything to make sure of all of the plans and details. Can't blame him. Things moved pretty fast for that guy in the past day or two, but he should wind up being a pretty nice pick-up.

I think the linemen they got in this class are really impressive. They might not be guys that come in and wow you right away, but if they're able to red-shirt and develop at the proper pace, you could be looking at multiple 3- or 4-year starters in this group, with Garza, McCauley and Durley all having tremendous potential. The best part about that is a couple of them are tackles, which KU desperately needs.

I also like all three of the juco O-linemen who signed in December and think D'Andre Banks, Will Smith and Jayson Rhodes could all factor in right away. But, as so many people have pointed out so often — none more often than our own Tom Keegan — the best way to improve an offensive line is by signing high school kids and letting them develop. KU has taken a nice step forward in that department with this class.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
WR Chase Harrell
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis
DB Shaq Richmond
TE Jace Sternberger
RB Taylor Martin
OL Clyde McCauley
WR Emmanuel Moore

7:59 a.m. Update:

Just got a text from Clyde "The Glide" McCauley, KU's new 6-5, 275-pound offensive lineman who has a killer nickname (especially for a man that big). His letter is in. That leaves just one I have yet to confirm, but I think it's in. Gonna do some searching around real quick to make sure.

What an unreal morning.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
WR Chase Harrell
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis
DB Shaq Richmond
TE Jace Sternberger
RB Taylor Martin
OL Clyde McCauley

Clyde McCauley film:
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1724177/clyde-mccauley

7:54 a.m. Update:

This truly is insane. Not even 8 a.m. and all of the letters are just about in. Credit KU coach David Beaty and his staff for locking these kids up and making them feel so good about their commitments that they wanted to sign ASAP.

In years past, we've often been waiting on letters to arrive at 11 a.m. or even later. Sometimes it has gone into the next day with a couple of guys. Not today, though. Wake up, sign, send it in and then go party with your friends and family. That's been the M.O. for this year's class, and, although that does not really translate to football or the playing field, it shows you, ever so slightly, that these guys are reliable and determined. Good sign. I'm in awe. Haven't even had time to fire up my power breakfast yet.

Here's some more film and the updated list…

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
WR Chase Harrell
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis
DB Shaq Richmond
TE Jace Sternberger
RB Taylor Martin

7:46 a.m. Update:

I've heard from a lot of these guys via text message this morning and almost all of them got up early to sign their letters as soon as they could and will have some sort of ceremony at their school later in the day.

That's when their friends, family members, coaches and teachers will be there with the balloons and cake and all the cameras. A bunch of these dudes said they'd send me photos from their signing celebrations when they take them. Some of them are schedule for 10:30 or 11 a.m. and others won't be until the end of the school day. Either way, you can bet these guys are feeling pretty good walking around the halls of their schools rockin' their KU gear and big smiles.

KU added a couple more names to the official list, so here's an update and some more film…

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis
DB Shaq Richmond
TE Jace Sternberger

Shaq Richmond:
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/4693296/highlights/182023377

7:39 a.m. Update:

Add another QB to KU's official list of signees… Nearby prospect Ryan Willis, from Bishop Miege High, who was the first player to commit to KU in this recruiting class way back last summer has made it official and sent his letter to Kansas.

None by Ryan Willis 5⃣

Willis had a monster season last fall and has the size and arm strength to play in the Big 12. He and Carter Stanley spent some time together during last weekend's visits and it'll be very interesting to see how those guys push each other and develop together in the program. Stanley's more mobile than Willis, but Willis has the bigger frame coming in.

Here's a quick look at some film on Willis…

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis

7:31 a.m. Update:

Just got confirmation that Osaze Ogbebor (pronounced Oh-saws) and Dorance Armstrong have sent their letters to KU, as well.

So far, it's been pretty smooth sailing for KU, which has received letters of intent from more than half of the expected signees. That's a pretty good success rate for any program 30 minutes into signing day.

Here's a quick look at some Ogbebor and Armstrong film as well as the updated list of confirmed letters.

Osaze Ogbebor:
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/838159/highlights/210146407

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza

7:25 a.m. Update:

As expected, the letters are starting to come in one after the next right now. Always a good sign for a program when the kids are so fired up to sign that they do it within the first 15 or 20 minutes they're allowed to. Takes a lot of the drama and stress out of what can be a crazy day.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde

Here's some more film from three of the latest confirmed signees…

Steven Sims:

Shola Ayinde:
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1370714/highlights/170830377

Jeremiah Booker:
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1379408/highlights/166593375

7:17 a.m. Update:

KU has really stepped up its game this year… Usually, the university and football offices are the last to announce the commitments because they have to get verification from so many places on campus, but KU's keeping up with the rest of us so far this year.

Here's another from the KU Twitter account, as hard-hitting safety Denzel Feaster (what a great name, right?!?) is now official, as well.

None by Kansas Football

Here's a look at some of Feaster's highlights. No doubt in my mind that this guy could step in and play right away.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster

7:08 a.m. Update:

Still nothing on Ogletree's Twitter page, but the official Kansas Football Twitter account just Tweeted out his name and film. Doesn't get more official than that, so I'm adding him to the list…. Again, this guy sounds like a very nice pick-up. Looking forward to learning more about how he got into the class from Coach Beaty later today.

None by Kansas Football

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster

7:01 a.m. Update:

While we're waiting for more letters to roll in, I wanted to make sure you all saw this photo of WR Chase Harrell, who, somewhat unexpectedly signed with the 2015 class early and is enrolled at KU this semester and will participate in spring practices.

It's just one photo, but I think you can see how good the 6-4, 205-pound wideout's frame looks in this photo. With that raw build and his early arrival, Harrell has positioned himself very nicely to be a factor in a wide-open receiving corps that will need more than a couple of guys to step up.

Class of 2015 WR Chase Harrell, who graduated high school early and will participate in spring practices at KU.

Class of 2015 WR Chase Harrell, who graduated high school early and will participate in spring practices at KU. by Matt Tait

6:53 a.m. Update:

Now's where it gets interesting. With so many kids signing in the Central Time Zone, things could get going fast and furious here once we get into the 7 o'clock hour in the Midwest.

Consider it the first sign of competition out of a group of players who seem to be very competitive and interested in nothing more than showing up, working hard and having a lot of fun.

This class is not the most impressive class you'll ever see on paper, but I've been pretty impressed with the attitude of the guys I've talked to (probably 10 or 12 of the 17 expected to sign today). They all seem fired up for the opportunity and focused on proving themselves. To me, it's exactly the kind of class that KU should be getting right now and exactly the kind of class that KU fans are going to have to get used to seeing until the wins start coming on a more regular basis.

Again, it's a lot of 2 & 3 star guys — mostly 2-stars, actually — but that's hardly the end all, be all of these guys as college football players.

From here, it'll be on the coaching staff to coach 'em up and develop them and the players themselves to buy in and put the work in to become legit Big 12 players. Not all of them will succeed. But, like I said, I've been pretty impressed with how determined these guys sound.

Get ready for the next wave… Tick, tick, tick, tick…

6:43 a.m. Update:

Just received this photo from Carter Stanley, decked out in his KU gear for the big signing…

New KU QB Carter Stanley rockin' his KU gear on his big day…

New KU QB Carter Stanley rockin' his KU gear on his big day… by Matt Tait

6:31 a.m. Update:

Things have officially gotten under way. I've heard from Stanley and Miller and things seem to be looking good for Ogletree, who definitely would qualify as a bit of a signing day surprise.

That would be a pretty big pick up for a guy with some pretty good film.

New KU cornerback Marnez Ogletree during his official visit to campus. (Twitter photo)

New KU cornerback Marnez Ogletree during his official visit to campus. (Twitter photo) by Matt Tait

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller

6:11 a.m. Update:

We're officially in the 7 o'clock hour on the east coast and just waiting for confirmation from Carter Stanley and Tyrone Miller about their letters.

While we wait, here's a quick look at their highlight films for those who haven't taken a minute to check them out.

TYRONE MILLER, 6-0, 178, 2-star Safety:

CARTER STANLEY, 6-2, 188, 2-start Quarterback
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2139724/highlights/196298375

I talked to Stanley last night and he said the amount of support and love he had received from KU fans since the day he committed had been overwhelming. His plan was to sport his Kansas Jayhawks hat and a Jayhawk tie he picked up during his official visit while signing his letter of intent this morning.

5:47 a.m. Update:

One of the more interesting things that will be worth tracking this morning is the status of junior-college cornerback Marnez Ogletree.

The 5-10, 190-pound DB from Fullerton C.C. in California has not officially committed to KU but has hinted that he might wind up signing with the Jayhawks today. Jon Kirby of JayhawkSlant.com reported late Tuesday night that Ogletree was expected to ink with Kansas today but added that he could not confirm that 100 percent.

Definitely worth keeping an eye on, given the fact that the 2015 class already appears to be full. Should Ogletree sign with Kansas, it could either bump someone else from the list (unlikely) or be a gray shirt situation (more likely).

Like I said, definitely worth tracking because Ogletree, who also had offers Boise State, Fresno State, Indiana, Utah State and others, is a guy who could make an immediate impact at a position of need.

Carter Stanley, one of KU football's newest quarterbacks out of Vero Beach, Florida, figures to be one of the first to make his commitment official on national signing day. (Photo courtesy Hobie Hiler/Special to Treasure Coast newspapers)

Carter Stanley, one of KU football's newest quarterbacks out of Vero Beach, Florida, figures to be one of the first to make his commitment official on national signing day. (Photo courtesy Hobie Hiler/Special to Treasure Coast newspapers) by Matt Tait

Original Post 5:33 a.m.

With 13 of the commitments expected to sign with the Kansas University football program this morning calling Texas home, the KU fax machines figure to be working overtime and could run the risk of getting jammed.

OK, maybe that whole doomsday jammed-up scenario is a bit of a reach. After all it is 2015 and technology — along with the common sense of having guys send their letters to multiple fax machines — have come a long way, but it still baffles me and just about anybody else who covers recruiting that the fax machine still plays such a prominent role in one of college football's biggest days.

Anyway, getting back to the KU commitments, with all of those Texans sending their letters from the Central time zone, this thing, provided it all goes smoothly and there are no surprises, could wind up being one of the quickest recruiting mornings in recent memory.

Remember, in the recent past, with former KU coach Charlie Weis' classes, the letters of intent came from all over the map, sometimes even as far away as Hawaii. Today, even with the non-Texas prospects who are signing, you're only looking at two athletes who will be signing outside of the Central Time Zone — Vero Beach, Florida quarterback Carter Stanley and Saline, Michigan defensive back Tyrone Miller.

I talked with Stanley Tuesday night and he said he was planning on signing and sending his letter of intent at 7 a.m., his time, 7:15 a.m. at the latest. That's 6:00-6:15 a.m. here, so it seems likely that Stanley's will be the first letter KU receives.

It could be a race between Stanley and Miller, though, because the Michigan prospect also said he thought he would sign his letter as early as possible. Both athletes will have separate ceremonies at their respective schools later in the day, with Miller's planned for 1:30 p.m. (12:30, Lawrence time) in the auditorium and Stanley's at 11 a.m. (10, Lawrence time).

Stay logged in throughout the morning right here for feedback, reaction, highlights and photos from KU's latest recruiting class.

It's been one of the tougher classes to track down, but I think I got to 10 or so of the 16 guys signing today so the morning should be filled with interesting tidbits and great visuals.

For those of you who might have missed it — or just not come across it yet — here's a look at the latest action in the class, as Huffman High wide receiver Chase Harrell graduated early and enrolled at KU in time for the spring semester and mid-year transfer M.J. Mathis, who signed back in December, no longer appears to be headed to Lawrence. In his place, KU secured a commitment from 6-foot-6, 275-pound Houston Christian offensive lineman Cam Durley, who also told me he was expected to sign bright and early this morning.

Here's our player-by-player look at KU's current recruiting class, which includes the seven mid-year guys (remember, no Mathis) who signed letters of intent back in December:

And here's a neat new feature from 24/7 Sports that tracks the national landscape of this year's recruiting classes. Keep an eye on it all day, as it figures to change with any late-breaking news or surprises that are bound to happen, maybe not at KU, but you know it'll happen somewhere.

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The Day After: Getting even with ISU

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) roars at the Jayhawks' bench after hitting a three against Iowa State during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) roars at the Jayhawks' bench after hitting a three against Iowa State during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Let's be honest, tomorrow is national signing day for KU football and I'm neck deep in stories, blurbs and obligations to get ready for that — don't forget to follow the Tale of the Tait blog all morning Wednesday for updates on all the signees as their letters roll in — so this Day After blog is going to be pretty short.

Luckily, there's not a whole lot that isn't obvious that needs to be said after KU's 89-76 victory over Iowa State on Monday night.

The Jayhawks shot lights out from the outside, played incredible defense and worked — on both ends — about as hard as I remember seeing them work all season. Clearly, the game and the chance to get revenge for their only Big 12 loss to date meant something to these guys.

Quick takeaway

Through its first 21 games, KU has racked up about as impressive a resume as you can rack up in modern college basketball. The Jayhawks have double digits Top 50 victories, have won some tough games against some tough opponents and positioned themselves well for another Big 12 title. But even with all of that said, I think Monday's game might have been the biggest of them all. There's just something that's gained, from a confidence standpoint, from beating a team that already beat you. No longer do you have those doubts about your team, yourself, your system. The fact that the Cyclones were ranked in the Top 12 only made the win more important. There's no doubt that Iowa State can play with just about anybody in the country when it's on. And, now, even though the Jayhawks probably already believed that based purely on the fact that they play at Kansas, that belief has reached a new level because they expunged the one loss that was haunting them from their record.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Yeah, we all know that Wayne Selden went wild with his jump shot in this one, but the thing that impressed me just as much was his leadership. We've talked a lot about this team lacking a clear on-the-floor leader, but it seems as if Selden may be sliding more and more into that role. I saw him talking a lot to his teammates, during good times and bad, and really trying to be a guy who rallied the team when it needed someone to take charge. At one point, I saw him encourage Frank Mason before a free throw to keep attacking. A few minutes later, he immediately helped Landen Lucas shake off a questionable foul call by telling him, “That's not the worst foul, that's not the worst foul.” Sure enough, Naz Long, whom Lucas fouled, missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw trip. More of this kind of chatter on a consistent basis will make Selden and this team even more dangerous.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) pulls up for a three from the corner during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) pulls up for a three from the corner during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – You probably can't count on Selden or any other KU player to knock in 5 of 7 three-point tries most nights, but it's incredibly clear that when KU is hitting these shots as a team, they're much tougher for opposing defense to handle. Because the Jayhawks don't have a powerful presence in the post who they can throw it down to and work through, spreading the floor is incredibly important because it allows several guys on the floor — occasionally all five — the room to put the ball down and attack the paint off the dribble.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas, left, guards Brannen Greene, Kelly Oubre and forward Perry Ellis compete for a rebound with Iowa State guard Bryce Dejean-Jones during the first half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas, left, guards Brannen Greene, Kelly Oubre and forward Perry Ellis compete for a rebound with Iowa State guard Bryce Dejean-Jones during the first half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – I thought KU's competitiveness was off the charts good in this one. Iowa State is the kind of team that is going to bring maximum energy every night no matter where they're playing. In fact, the Cyclones looked so fired up when they took the floor that I don't think the noise or the atmosphere bothered them one bit. And for the first 12 or so minutes of the game, they played like that. Eventually, though, KU matched it and started out-competing ISU for loose balls, rebounds and hustle plays. The combination of that kind of effort and KU's hot shooting made KU look every bit like a team that could contend for a No. 1 seed and a Final Four. Long way to go before we get to that point, but that's the blueprint to getting there.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – I'm sure they're addressing it plenty this week in practice, but KU appears to have some work to do against full-court pressure. The Jayhawks struggled with it against TCU last week and again on Monday against Iowa State. Bill Self always has been pretty great about drilling his guys on this aspect of the game, so getting a few days to work out the kinks will probably help tremendously. If I'm a KU opponent, though, there's no question in my mind that I'm pressing as much as I feel I can until KU proves it can handle it consistently.

2 – For all of the good things Jamari Traylor does out there, he still has those moments that make you scratch your head. One such moment came on a fast-break Monday night, when Traylor tried to get the ball to Perry Ellis. He had three choices. A lob probably would've worked great. A bounce pass would've been equally effective. But, unfortunately for KU, Traylor through the chest pass and ISU's Jameel McKay got his hand on it and forced a turnover. The gaffe drew some choice words from Self, who essentially told Traylor to wake up. With so many other guys playing at such a high level right now, Traylor can't afford to have these mistakes. Case in point: He played just 18 minutes in this one and finished with a roller-coaster line of 4 points, 1 rebound, 3 fouls, 3 turnovers, 3 steals, 1 block and 1 assist. I will say this, though: Both of the shots Traylor hit came off of very sound and under-control moves to the rim.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) defends against a pass from Iowa State guard Monte Morris (11) during the first half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) defends against a pass from Iowa State guard Monte Morris (11) during the first half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – I think he's filled his role very well since coming back from injury, but I'd still like to see Devonte' Graham look for his shot a little more. His strong take to the rim and finish with his left hand was very impressive. It also was his only shot attempt of the night. Since returning to the lineup, Graham is averaging less than four shots per game and has had three games with two shots or fewer. Nobody's looking for Graham to get trigger happy and start jacking up 15 shots a game, but the kid has some skills on the offensive end and could help put pressure on opposing defenses as a scorer and not just a passer.

One for the road

KU's 13-point win over the Cyclones...

• Made Kansas 19-3 overall and 8-1 in Big 12 play for the eighth time under head coach Bill Self.

• Added to KU’s all-time series advantage, which Kansas now leads 176-61, including a 32-10 mark in Big 12 games, 91-15 in games played in Lawrence and 50-9 inside Allen Fieldhouse.

• Marked the 10th-straight win against Iowa State inside Allen Fieldhouse beginning in 2006.

• Extended KU’s overall win streak in Allen Fieldhouse to 20 games, including an 11-0 record in the venue this season.

• Bettered KU’s all-time record inside Allen Fieldhouse to 724-109, including a 186-9 under Self.

• Improved Self to 344-72 while at Kansas, 22-5 against Iowa State (21-5 at Kansas) and 551-177 overall.

• Made KU 2,145-825 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks head back out on the road for a match-up with Oklahoma State at 1 p.m. in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The game will be shown on either ESPN or ESPN2. The last time these two met the Jayhawks topped the Cowboys 67-57 Jan. 13 in Allen Fieldhouse.

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Iowa State 89-76

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Iowa State 89-76

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The Day After: Trouble at TCU

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) applauds a three from teammate Wayne Selden Jr. during the first half at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) applauds a three from teammate Wayne Selden Jr. during the first half at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

Wednesday's 64-61 Kansas University basketball victory over TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, was such a dud from a pure basketball standpoint, that it's not really worth spending too much time recapping it.

That's especially true with Allen Fieldhouse games against Kansas State (Saturday) at Iowa State (Monday) on the immediate horizon.

So let's get to the good and the bad of it and get out of here.

The Jayhawks won. And they won ugly. But a win is a win, as the saying goes, especially on the road in a deep and talented Big 12 Conference.

Quick takeaway

First off, TCU clearly is a better team than it has been in the past couple of years, but this one had as much to do with KU's inability to get locked in for extended periods of time as anything else. That's probably not that big of a surprise. Personally, I thought KU had turned the corner of having to worry about what kind of energy it brought to the floor from night to night, but it probably would have been easier to predict a letdown after a nearly flawless game against Texas last weekend. If you're looking for good news from this game, it lies in the final score. Most programs lose when they play poorly and are a little sloppy and sluggish while struggling offensively for large chunks of time. KU didn't. Give credit to some of the lesser-used role players, who, by definition constantly bring fire and energy, for helping the Jayhawks survive the Horned Frogs.

Three reasons to smile

1 – For starters, KU won. Again. And improved to 17-3 overall and 6-1 in Big 12 play. We're deep enough into Big 12 play now that, a record like that is reason enough to feel good about where a team stands.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) heads up to the bucket against TCU Horned Frogs guard Kyan Anderson (5) during the first half at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) heads up to the bucket against TCU Horned Frogs guard Kyan Anderson (5) during the first half at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

2 – Wednesday's game was a not-so-subtle reminder of how sophomore guard Frank Mason can bail this team out almost whenever he wants to. On a night when KU shot 46 percent, Mason was 8-of-12 from the floor in 35 minutes. Curiously, Mason missed all three free throws he attempted, and even though he's still a .783 free throw shooter for the season, he's down to just .700 in Big 12 play.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas battles for a loose ball with TCU Horned Frogs center Karviar Shepherd during the second half at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. Also pictured are TCU Horned Frogs forward Chris Washburn (33) and Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34).

Kansas forward Landen Lucas battles for a loose ball with TCU Horned Frogs center Karviar Shepherd during the second half at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. Also pictured are TCU Horned Frogs forward Chris Washburn (33) and Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34). by Nick Krug

3 – Landen Lucas will never be one of those guys who this team counts on, but credit him for preparing like he is. Lucas played big minutes for the Jayhawks on Wednesday night, finishing with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in 24 minutes. The things Lucas lacks still showed up, so you didn't leave the game feeling like Lucas could be a difference maker in the future. But it takes efforts like this from unexpected places for a program to win 10 — or 11 — straight Big 12 titles, and Lucas delivered one Wednesday night.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – KU's energy was lacking big time. Maybe it was the gym or the opponent or the fact that K-State and Iowa State at home are the next two games on the schedule. But those are just excuses. The Jayhawks should not be able to use youth as an excuse any more. These guys know better by now and have seen what it takes to compete and play at a high level. It's simply a matter of going out and doing it, which, over the course of a grind like Big 12 Conference play, is occasionally easier said than done. It's worth pointing out that the re-aggravation of Devonte' Graham's right foot is also a reason to sigh. Even though Graham re-entered and looked fine, seeing the freshman guard who has proven to be a bit of a difference maker doubled over in pain is definitely not something the Jayhawks want to see.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis battles down low for a rebound with TCU Horned Frogs guard Trey Zeigler (32) and center Karviar Shepherd during the second half at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis battles down low for a rebound with TCU Horned Frogs guard Trey Zeigler (32) and center Karviar Shepherd during the second half at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

2 – KU's big men were outworked on the board throughout the game. Forget the final numbers, which showed TCU holding a 50-40 rebounding advantage, including a 26-9 edge on the offensive glass. What was more concerning was the way the Horned Frogs were attacking missed shots and the way the Jayhawks weren't. Early foul trouble on several KU players may have been a factor and caused KU to pull back its aggression, but that's a bad excuse. Guys can still play hard without fouling.

Kansas guards Devonte Graham (4) and Wayne Selden Jr. watch a pair of free throws from teammate Frank Mason with seconds remaining on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas guards Devonte Graham (4) and Wayne Selden Jr. watch a pair of free throws from teammate Frank Mason with seconds remaining on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

3 – Despite the off night offensively, foul trouble up and down the lineup and next to no energy, the Jayhawks looked to be in total control... until the end. That's when the wheels nearly fell off, which should be cause for real concern. KU's showing vs. TCU's pressure in final couple of minutes was nothing short of atrocious and it makes you wonder how Kansas will match-up with West Virginia, which plays like that almost the entire game, and even K-State, who showed flashes of that style in this week's loss to West Virginia.

One for the road

KU's three-point win over TCU:

• Made Kansas 17-3 overall and 6-1 in Big 12 play for the 10th time under head coach Bill Self.

• Pushed KU’s all-time lead in the series to 8-1, including a 5-1 mark in Big 12 games and a 3-1 record in Fort Worth.

• Marked KU's fourth straight win against TCU.

• Improved Self to 342-72 while at Kansas, 12-4 against TCU (6-1 at Kansas) and 549-177 overall.

• Made KU 2,143-825 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks return home Saturday for a 1 p.m. match-up with Sunflower State rival Kansas State on ESPN. The meeting will be the first between the two Kansas programs this season, and, two days later, the Jayhawks will welcome Iowa State to town for a Big Monday rematch with the Cyclones.

By the Numbers: Kansas wins 64-61 at TCU

By the Numbers: Kansas wins 64-61 at TCU

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New turf being installed at KU’s Memorial Stadium

Construction crews in charge of installing new turf at Memorial Stadium work to level out the playing surface on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015

Construction crews in charge of installing new turf at Memorial Stadium work to level out the playing surface on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 by Matt Tait

Construction crews and Bobcats have taken over Memorial Stadium. But, no, it's not the start of any major stadium renovations that KU fans are dying to see.

Instead, the Kansas University athletic department is replacing the turf at Memorial Stadium in preparation for the upcoming spring football season.

The old turf, which already has been completely ripped out, was installed in the spring and summer of 2009 and the new turf, which went down last summer in place of the old track that was torn out following the completion of Rock Chalk Park, will remain in place. When the project is finished, which KU officials said would be in time for spring practices, the two shades of green will match better than the turf did last season.

Work on the project began last weekend and the construction crews are currently in the process of re-leveling the entire field.

Once the new turf is installed, it will look nearly identical to what you saw last season in terms of logos and end zone markings, with the only exception being a six-foot white border surrounding the playing field instead of the 18-20-inch border that had been there. The thicker boundary is more in line with what the rest of the Big 12 Conference stadiums have in place.

According to a KU official with knowledge of the project, the new turf is expected to hold up for around eight years.

KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said the cost of the current project is around $200,000, less than half of last summer's $500,000 price tag to remove the track and put turf down in its place. That project was paid for by an anonymous donor.

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Big 12 getting serious respect from national hoops analysts

Kansas players, from left, Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis, Frank Mason and Jamari Traylor watch a pair of free throws from Kelly Oubre with head coach Bill Self after a flagrant foul by Baylor during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas players, from left, Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis, Frank Mason and Jamari Traylor watch a pair of free throws from Kelly Oubre with head coach Bill Self after a flagrant foul by Baylor during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

With the calendar turning to February in just a few days, and March being the month that follows February, it doesn't seem all that ridiculous to start looking ahead at the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

While ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi and others do this year round, even in the offseason when no games are being played and coaches are still putting together their recruiting classes, several other college basketball analysts start to fire up their serious thoughts right around now.

Toss ESPN's Jay Bilas into that mix. I realize that Bilas probably was asked for and gave his Final Four picks during some kind of season preview a few months ago. No harm in doing that. But the input he can provide today, now that he's seen a ton of games and a ton of teams is much more valuable.

On Wednesday, Bilas, with a little help from John Gasaway, posted his Top 68 teams in college basketball rankings on ESPN.com's Insider page, and, not-so-surprisingingly, the former Duke player and current face of college basketball broadcasting had eight of the Big 12's 10 teams ranked in his Top 68. Whether they'll all stay there or get into the tournament remains to be seen. (For what it's worth, Lunardi currently has the same eight IN the tournament in his latest Bracketology projections).

Anyway, as is the case in the Big 12 standings, the Jayhawks are the top Big 12 team listed on Bilas' rankings, with KU coming in at No. 13.

Here's what Bilas has to say about KU:

Bill Self and his staff have done a marvelous job winning with this team and, while there is a long way to go, KU seems on the way to its 11th straight Big 12 title. Self has had to push a lot of different buttons, and call a lot of different players into action to piece together wins. The Jayhawks have lost only three games, and have won against a very solid schedule. While rated No. 1 in the RPI (which tells you all you need to know about the RPI), Kansas is rated 18th in offensive efficiency and 39th in defensive efficiency. The key has been the play and steadying influence of Frank Mason solidifying the point guard slot. The development of Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander will be the difference going forward. -- Jay Bilas

As for the rest of the conference, Bilas & Gasaway break the Big 12 down like this, at least today…

16 - Iowa State
18 - Oklahoma
20 - Texas
22 - Baylor
23 - West Virginia
49 - Oklahoma State
55 - Kansas State

For those of you who are "ESPN Insiders" and would like to look at Bilas' entire Top 68, the complete list can be found here.

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Wild world of recruiting strikes again as KU commitment Josh Moore backs out

Late Tuesday night, Kansas University football commitment Josh Moore took to Twitter to announce that he no longer was headed to KU.

Moore, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end who many believed could easily develop into a defensive end or offensive tackle, played for new KU on-campus recruiting coordinator Gene Wier at Olathe North and committed to the Jayhawks in late October.

The three-star prospect who had offers from a bunch of impressive schools, including Auburn, Florida State, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU, among others, picked Kansas largely because of his fondness for then-interim head coach Clint Bowen.

Even though Bowen remained on staff when KU hired David Beaty, something inspired a change of heart for Moore, who initially was committed to Ohio State before picking Kansas. It's possible that the change in leadership was enough to change his mind, but, according to a few people I've talked to about his recruitment, it's more likely that Moore may not wind up qualifying academically and may have to go the junior-college route.

It's still too early to know exactly what happened or even what will happen, but we'll definitely know a lot more next Wednesday, when the members of KU's Class of 2015 sign their national letters of intent. At this point, it looks unlikely that Moore will be one of them.

If Moore winds up elsewhere, he will have been the third significant prospect to fall off of KU's recruiting list in the past few days, as three-star wide receiver Kevin Thomas de-committed from KU and chose SMU and three-star Dallas athlete Arico Evans backed out of his pledge to Kansas to commit to TCU.

Regardless of what happened here, you can bet the KU coaches are working around the clock and will continue to do so up until signing day. And it's likely they already had a couple back-up plans in place to help offset these losses.

Here's a quick look at the Twitter messages Moore fired off on Tuesday night. The strong words against Wier should be taken with a grain of salt given that we don't yet know exactly what's going on with Moore or where he will wind up. I should also point out that I've heard nothing but good things about Wier's hiring and the job he's done since joining the KU football program.

A lot of people don't get it, and it's not always fun, but this kind of thing is not all that uncommon in the recruiting world. And the whole thing only seems to be getting crazier and crazier by the class.

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The Day After: Near-perfection in Austin, Texas

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) gets a slam on a put-back dunk against Texas during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) gets a slam on a put-back dunk against Texas during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

By several accounts, Saturday's 75-62 victory over Texas in Austin was the Jayhawks' best game of the 2014-15 season.

It's hard to argue that. So many positive things went in KU's direction, with a convincing victory over a solid team being the result. The game was on the road and against a Top 20 team. Kansas turned it over just three times all game and did not cough it up once in the second half. The scoring was balanced. Newcomers and veterans contributed equally and Bill Self's crew showed toughness, confidence and even a little swagger.

The Jayhawks made 15 of 19 free throw attempts, recorded more assists and steals than the Longhorns and limited UT to 40 percent shooting, including a 3-of-18 mark from three-point range.

I'll be honest. I thought this would be another Iowa State game, where the home crowd and talent on the opposing bench proved to be too much for the young Jayhawks to overcome. But maybe it was just the opposite. Maybe it was exactly the kind of game this team needed to allow it to believe that what happened in Ames, Iowa, one week earlier was closer to being a fluke than the norm. If that's true and these guys just turned up the belief they have in themselves, the Big 12 race might be over.

Quick takeaway

So much has been made lately about Cliff Alexander's motor and how important his play is to this team. But would anyone argue that Brannen Greene's motor — or maybe just his head — might be equally as important. The sophomore guard has been sensational in KU's past two games, both tough victories over Top 20 teams. And those efforts came less than a week after it looked as if Greene might be out of the rotation for good. I guess the lesson here is that it's dangerous to write off a guy too early when he has this kind of talent. Bill Self certainly did not do that with Greene and KU is reaping the rewards because of it. If the past two games — and the lessons that were learned leading up to them — are any indication of where this team is headed, Greene and Alexander, all of a sudden, seem to have vaulted to the top of the list — right behind Frank Mason — as KU's most important players. Oh, and while KU was doing its thing in Austin, TCU was taking West Virginia to the wire in Morgantown and Texas Tech was getting ready to knock off Iowa State in Lubbock. Just one week after a loss at Iowa State seemed to blow the Big 12 race wide open, the Jayhawks have jumped right back into the driver's seat in a big way.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) pulls up for a three as he is defended by Texas forward Myles Turner (52) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) pulls up for a three as he is defended by Texas forward Myles Turner (52) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

Three reasons to smile

1 – Cliff Alexander held his own personal dunk party in Austin. Yes, Alexander's motor was revving high for the second game in a row. And, yes, that was by far the most important part of his game. But the fact that the big fella looked ferocious while playing again is nothing but good news for the Jayhawks. Alexander looked eager to try to dunk everything he could in this one. Maybe it was the challenge of playing against the bigger front line the Longhorns possessed. But if the KU freshman can find a way to channel that same attitude against teams that aren't as big as Texas up front, he could be in for some monster games in the very near future. Props also to Alexander's teammates for so often putting him in good positions to finish strong.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) delivers a dunk against the Texas zone defense late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) delivers a dunk against the Texas zone defense late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

2 – Jamari Traylor's effort alone on that wild play toward the end of the first half was worth a high grade for the entire game. Yes, Traylor hustled to get a block shot on one end, crashed the boards on the other and dove out of bounds after both stretches. And, yes, Traylor's all-out dive at halfcourt was the kind of play Self will be telling young players about for years. But the most impressive part about the whole thing to me was that it started with Traylor getting his shot blocked. When that happened in the past — and even in the not-too-distant past — Traylor had a tendency to show bad body language and let the bad play momentarily take him out of the game. It looks as if Traylor is growing and maturing.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) dives out of bounds for an attempted save before the Jayhawks' bench during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) dives out of bounds for an attempted save before the Jayhawks' bench during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

3 – So much was made about UT's length heading into this game, but how about KU's length coming through for the Jayhawks. Not only did Kansas pick up some blocks and steals because of its ability to stretch out defensively, but the Jayhawks also really benefited from their length on the offensive end, as well, whether that was Cliff Alexander flushing shot after shot or Kelly Oubre finishing at the rim. The Longhorns did finish with nine blocks, but it's a real credit to the growth and maturity of this Kansas team

*** Disclaimer: We were really forced to reach for negatives after this game.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Because the rest of the game turned out so well, people probably won't remember KU's 11-2 deficit to open the game. And why should they? As soon as Brannen Greene got going from the outside and Alexander and Perry Ellis picked things up inside, KU dominated. Slow starts like that are usually a recipe for disaster on the road, so they still fit in the category of reasons to sigh. But if KU can overcome any future slow starts the way it did in Austin, even an early double-digit deficit won't make its way onto this list.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) slaps hands with Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) slaps hands with Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

2 – KU was out-rebounded, 36-34, and gave up 13 offensive boards to the Longhorns. Like I said, we're nit-picking here. If anything, hanging in there with the Longhorns on the glass shows just how well KU played up front. The Jayhawks matched UT on the offensive glass and had five different players record at least three rebounds.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) boxes out Texas forward Myles Turner during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) boxes out Texas forward Myles Turner during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

3 – Wayne Selden's shot is still not quite right. Remember early in the season when Selden was in a big-time shooting slump that got a ton of talk? He snapped out of that one and then that was that, but, as much as things have gotten a little better since then, he's still not completely there with his shot. Selden's shooting percentage in the first six conference games of the season is just 34.6 percent (18 for 52) and that includes Saturday's 2-for-6 performance against Texas. Credit Selden for doing enough “little things” to remain an important part of this team even without clicking on offense, the most notable of which is probably his defensive toughness.

One for the road

The Jayhawks' 75-62 victory over Texas:

• Made Kansas 16-3 overall and 5-1 in Big 12 play for the 10th time under head coach Bill Self.

• Added to KU’s all-time series advantage as Kansas now leads 24-8, including a 7-6 mark in Austin (all games in the Erwin Center).

• Kept KU a perfect 2-0 on CBS this season (vs. UNLV; at Texas) and 42-16 all-time when playing on CBS.

• Marked KU’s 250th victory in Big 12 play (250-50), the most among all league foes. Texas is second at 197-103.

• Improved Self to 341-72 while at Kansas, 14-8 against Texas (13-6 at Kansas) and 548-177 overall.

• Made KU 2,142-825 all-time.

Next up

KU (16-3 overall, 5-1 in Big 12 play) will head back out on the road Wednesday night for an 8 p.m. tip-off at TCU. The game will be shown on ESPNU.

By the Numbers: Kansas wins 75-62 at Texas

By the Numbers: Kansas wins 75-62 at Texas

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NFL Pro Bowl to include 3 Jayhawks for first time since 1963

Former Jayhawks (L to R) Darrell Stuckey, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris at this year's Pro Bowl in Arizona. (Photo courtesy of Harris)

Former Jayhawks (L to R) Darrell Stuckey, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris at this year's Pro Bowl in Arizona. (Photo courtesy of Harris) by Matt Tait

When the best of the best in the NFL hit the field for Sunday's Pro Bowl in Arizona, the rosters will include three former Jayhawks for the first time in more than 50 years.

Chris Harris (2007-10), Darrell Stuckey (2006-09) and Aqib Talib (2005-07), who shared the same KU secondary during the 12-1, 2007 season and 2008 Orange Bowl victory, will be the first trio of Jayhawks to play in the Pro Bowl since Galen Fiss (1950-52), Mike McCormack (1948-50) and Curtis McClinton (1959-61) represented their pro teams in the 1963 Pro Bowl.

It will mark the first appearance in the postseason all-star showcase for all three players. Talib was selected to the AFC Pro Bowl squad last season but did not play because of injury and Harris and Stuckey were named to the team for the first time in their careers.

Former Jayhawk Chris Harris, center, poses for a photo with current Denver Broncos teammates C.J. Anderson, left, and T.J. Ward, right, before a community outreach event at the Pro Bowl in Arizona. (photo courtesy @chrisharrisjr)

Former Jayhawk Chris Harris, center, poses for a photo with current Denver Broncos teammates C.J. Anderson, left, and T.J. Ward, right, before a community outreach event at the Pro Bowl in Arizona. (photo courtesy @chrisharrisjr) by Matt Tait

Harris and Talib, both starting cornerbacks for the Denver Broncos, were two of the top defensive backs in the league during the 2014 season. Talib led the Broncos with four interceptions and finished fourth on the team with 64 tackles. He also added a sack. Harris, who was ranked as the NFL's top cornerback by Pro Football Focus — which took into account overall performance including percentage of receptions and yards given up — was right behind him with three interceptions, 53 tackles and a sack.

Stuckey, a back-up safety in his fifth season with the San Diego Chargers, again was a star on special teams, which earned him the trip to the Pro Bowl. He led the Chargers with 15 special teams tackles and made 27 more tackles in 155 defensive snaps.

Stuckey's addition to the Pro Bowl roster was made official earlier this week, as he finished as an alternate in the voting but took the place of New England's Matthew Slater, who is preparing for the Super Bowl.

This trio is largely responsible for the more favorable light that KU football has enjoyed in pro football. Not only have all three performed well enough to be respected for their stats and play on the field, but each has been part of some of the top teams in football during the past few seasons.

This weekend will mark just the second time in history that three former Jayhawks will play in the Pro Bowl together. KU has enjoyed seven different seasons with two former Jayhawks playing in the Pro Bowl at the same time and the program has had a representative in the game 29 different times, with the first coming in 1939, when Pete Mehringer, a former KU offensive lineman and 1932 Olympic wrestling gold medalist, represented the Los Angeles Bulldogs and the most recent until this season being former San Francisco 49ers stud Dana Stubblefield in 1998.

John Hadl and Mike McCormack are the Jayhawks who made the most Pro Bowl appearances, with six apiece, and KU packed its biggest punch in 1966 and 1970, when both Hadl and Gale Sayers played in the Pro Bowl.

Aqib Talib at this year's Pro Bowl (photo courtesy @NFLNow)

Aqib Talib at this year's Pro Bowl (photo courtesy @NFLNow) by Matt Tait

Here's a quick look at KU's all-time Pro Bowl representatives:

• Frank Bausch — Chicago — 1940
• Larry Brown — Pittsburgh — 1983
• Nolan Cromwell — Los Angeles — 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984
• Galen Fiss — Cleveland — 1963, 1964
• John Hadl — San Diego & Los Angeles — 1965, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1974
• Chris Harris — Denver — 2014
• LeRoy Irvin — Los Angeles — 1986, 1987
• Ron Jessie — Los Angeles — 1977
• Curtis McClinton — Dallas Texans & Kansas City — 1963, 1967, 1968
• Mike McCormack — New York & Cleveland — 1952, 1957, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963
• Peter Mehringer — Los Angeles Bulldogs — 1939
• John Riggins — New York Jets — 1976
• Gale Sayers — Chicago — 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970
• Dana Stubblefield — San Francisco — 1995, 1996, 1998
• Darrell Stuckey — San Diego — 2014
• Aqib Talib — New England & Denver — 2013, 2014
• Delvin Williams — San Francisco & Miami — 1977, 1979
• John Zook — Atlanta — 1974

Former KU safety and Kansas City, Kansas native Darrell Stuckey — joined by New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram — takes time out for a photo at a Pro Bowl event earlier this week. (photo courtesy Indianapolis Colts mascot @blue)

Former KU safety and Kansas City, Kansas native Darrell Stuckey — joined by New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram — takes time out for a photo at a Pro Bowl event earlier this week. (photo courtesy Indianapolis Colts mascot @blue) by Matt Tait

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As expected, President Obama talks basketball during visit to KU

President Barack Obama speaks at Kansas University, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.

President Barack Obama speaks at Kansas University, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. by Nick Krug

President Barack Obama visited Kansas University this morning to visit with KU students and several Lawrence residents on the heels of this week's State of the Union address.

Obama, a huge and well-known college basketball fan, opened his speech at Anschutz Sports Pavilion by talking a little KU basketball.

He said he met with KU coach Bill Self and the men's basketball team just before taking the stage and added that he figured he might as well talk to some basketball players since he was in Lawrence already and everything.

Several Jayhawks instantly took to Twitter to share their thoughts about meeting the president and Obama, himself, kicked off his speech with talk about KU being back on top of the Big 12 Conference race and praised Self's streak of 10 straight Big 12 titles.

None by Wayne Selden Jr.

Known by many as a gifted and charismatic speaker, Obama then made a correlation between one of his streaks and KU's streak of Big 12 titles.

“Coach Self has won 10 straight, I lost two straight (in Kansas),” he said, referring to losing the state of Kansas in the general election during both of his presidential campaigns. “I might have won some sections of Lawrence. That might have happened.”

Obama's love for KU hoops came as no surprise and it made sense for him to kick off the day's festivities talking about the one thing that unites this town better than anything else.

Our own Gary Bedore talked with Self briefly after the speech and the KU coach told him that the team met with Obama in Hadl Auditorium and presented him with a personalized jersey and KU basketball.

None by Brannen Greene

None by Cliff Alexander

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The Day After: Overcoming OU

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) holds up three fingers to celebrate his shot beyond the arc that shot high off the rim and down through the net during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) holds up three fingers to celebrate his shot beyond the arc that shot high off the rim and down through the net during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

It was one of the wildest games in Allen Fieldhouse in quite some time and featured two teams fighting from start to finish that played at an incredibly high level.

In short, it was everything we love about college basketball.

Journal-World Sports Editor Tom Keegan remarked after KU's 85-78 victory over Oklahoma on Monday night that it was really like watching three games in one, with KU dominating the first game, OU dominating the second and the Jayhawks out-slugging the Sooners down the stretch in the third act.

Given the way Kansas played in its loss in Ames, Iowa, just two nights earlier, it was not entirely unexpected to see the Jayhawks come out with great energy and a something-to-prove attitude. And, for a while, it looked as if that energy, which led to eight straight made three-pointers during the first 20 minutes, was enough to knock out the Sooners before they ever got started.

But OU regrouped at halftime and kept coming, which led to a fantastic finish and a big moment of growth for KU's young guys and the team as a whole.

Quick takeaway

Although we're all still trying to figure out so many things about this version of Kansas basketball, I think it might be time to put one thing down in pen instead of pencil — the Jayhawks are a much different team at home than they are on the road. I know that sounds obvious and is probably true with most teams, but it's as true with this team as any I can remember. KU was great in a lot of ways against Oklahoma, but the Jayhawks were at their absolute best when the crowd was fueling them and they were fueling the crowd. Had Oklahoma, which confirmed all of the things I already liked about them (mental and physical toughness, great guard play, well coached) had been able to erase that 19-point halftime deficit and walk out of there with a victory, it would've been one of the better wins in school history. Instead, KU rose a level above and the home crowd took the Jayhawks the rest of the way to a huge conference victory that may very well have re-established KU as the team to beat in the Big 12.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Kelly Oubre was clutch down the stretch. Forget the numbers or the way the points came or how much he was on the floor. The freshman was sensational down the stretch and showed glimpses of being able to become this team's go-to guy. He might not be the first option to handle the ball on the perimeter and create a jumper for himself. But if you're looking for someone to attack the rim with poise and either finish in close or get to the free throw line, Oubre looks like your guy.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) pulls back for an attempted dunk as he attacks the basket against Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) pulls back for an attempted dunk as he attacks the basket against Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – KU's energy, intensity and urgency as a whole much better from the start. That did not really surprise anyone, given that they were playing at home against a ranked team two days after a loss, but it looked natural and effective. It did not seem like a group of athletes trying to play hard to please their coach. It looked like a group of athletes playing hard because it meant something to them. That could be a good sign for the second half of the season.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) tips away a rebound as he battles with Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) tips away a rebound as he battles with Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – A lot was made about KU's ability to find a way to win close games during the non-conference season, but this took it to a completely different level. I'm not sure people can understand just how tough it is to push past a collapse like the one the Jayhawks experienced on Monday night. From up 20 and rolling to down 4 out of nowhere. Lesser teams would've folded. Teams without any mental toughness would've fallen apart. But, as Perry Ellis told me after the game, “You just have to block all that out. You can't worry about what the score was, you just worry about what the score is and keep playing.” Great attitude that paid off big time.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – During the 9-0 and 27-7 runs that Oklahoma ripped off to start the second half, KU appeared to be in total retreat mode, especially when the Sooners pushed the tempo early in the second half. It wasn't quite as bad as what Iowa State did by beating the Jayhawks down the floor over the top, but it was clear that KU's transition defense needs some work. OU got several easy buckets and a couple of and-ones simply by pushing the ball and attacking the rim. A lot of coaches have talked about employing that strategy against Kansas because they don't want to try to attack KU in the halfcourt.

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) puts up a shot as he is defended by the Jayhawks during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) puts up a shot as he is defended by the Jayhawks during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – It doesn't sound like anything major, but you never want to hear about guys being injured and Self revealed after Monday's victory that Jamari Traylor has been dealing with a hip injury for about a week. Self said the extent of Traylor's injury was not really known at the start of Monday's game but it quickly became clear that it was bothering him. KU's front-court depth is pretty thin and Traylor having even a nagging injury would not be good news for the Jayhawks.

3 – Kansas made more free throws (13) in the second half than field goals (10) and missed seven foul shots in the second half. Combine that with KU's 37 percent shooting from the floor and it's no wonder that OU stormed all the way back. Of course, when it mattered most, KU delivered, which is all that anyone will remember. As Self said, it wasn't so much a case of KU playing poorly in the second half as it was OU playing great.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. reaches through for a steal against Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins (11) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. reaches through for a steal against Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins (11) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

One for the road

The Jayhawks' 85-78 victory over Oklahoma on Monday:

• Made Kansas 15-3 overall and 4-1 in Big 12 play.

• Improved the Jayhawks to 53-17 all-time on ESPN’s Big Monday, including 30-1 inside Allen Fieldhouse. The win was also KU’s 23rd-straight Big Monday win in Lawrence.

• Extended KU’s win streak to 14 games against Oklahoma in Allen Fieldhouse (dating back to the Big Eight Era, 1/10/94) and made the all-time series 142-65 in favor of the Jayhawks, including 72-16 in Lawrence and 45-7 in Allen Fieldhouse.

• Pushed Kansas’ win streak in Allen Fieldhouse to 18-straight games, which includes a 10-0 home record this season (9-0 in the Fieldhouse).

• Made KU 722-109 all-time in Allen Fieldhouse and 184-9 at the Jayhawks' home gym in the Bill Self era.

• Marked the first time the Jayhawks have won a game this season when trailing with less than five minutes to play in regulation.

• Improved Self to 340-72 while at Kansas, 14-4 against Oklahoma (14-2 at Kansas), 18-0 in ESPN Big Monday matchups in Lawrence and 547-177 overall.

• Made KU 2,141-825 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks will head back out on the road for a tough test at Texas at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be shown on CBS.

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Oklahoma, 85-78

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Oklahoma, 85-78

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The Day After: Slapped by the Cyclones

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) loses the ball as it is stripped by Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue (22) and guard Monte Morris (11) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) loses the ball as it is stripped by Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue (22) and guard Monte Morris (11) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum. by Nick Krug

With College Gameday in the building and hype around the game growing throughout the week, Iowa State answered the challenge of welcoming the Kansas men's basketball team to town in a big way and in convincing fashion.

The game, although no doubt a thrill for the home fans, did not quite live up to its billing as a clash of Top 15 teams — two of the best in the Big 12 — particularly because neither team played all that well. Iowa State was solid in the second half and had plenty of moments where it looked like a force to be reckoned with. But the Cyclones also had plenty of moments where they looked less than stellar like the Jayhawks, most notably with a few late turnovers and several missed free throws.

Iowa State and its fans waited all day and night for a chance to show the nation that it was capable of beating mighty Kansas. And then the Cyclones went out and did it.

After a back-and-forth first half that ended with ISU leading by three, the Cyclones (13-3 overall, 3-1 Big 12) jumped out to a nine-point lead early in the second half and never looked back.

Iowa State built second-half leads of 12, 14 and 12 again and watched Kansas (14-3, 3-1) scratch and claw its way back into striking distance each time. But the home team, backed by its rockin' and rowdy arena, answered every KU run right down to the wire and sent KU home with plenty of questions to answer.

Kansas head coach Bill Self, center, and his coaching staff show frustration with a Jayhawk turnover during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum.

Kansas head coach Bill Self, center, and his coaching staff show frustration with a Jayhawk turnover during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum. by Nick Krug

Quick takeaway

Saturday's loss by Kansas makes the Big 12 Conference race interesting again and it should have come as no surprise. Iowa State was angry and is always hungry to knock off the Jayhawks no matter where they play. It wasn't so much the loss that should be a concern for KU as it was the way it came. Kansas got very little production and passion from anyone not named Perry Ellis and Frank Mason and again struggled defensively and with a lack of quality depth. It's just one loss and it came on the road in an environment that hardly any team has success in, so the key for Kansas now is to move forward and respond to Saturday's setback with an inspired effort against a tough Oklahoma team tomorrow night. If they don't, the Jayhawks could be entering a stretch — at Iowa State, OU Monday, at Texas on Saturday — that could put their quest for Big 12 title No. 11 in a row in danger.

Three reasons to smile

1 – You have to give KU credit for fighting to the end. The Jayhawks hit a couple of late three-pointers, forced a couple of turnovers inside the final minute and actually got what once was a late, 14-point ISU lead down to three in the final seconds. At no point did it seem like Iowa State had lost control of the game, but it was good to see KU not mail it in, especially given the fact that you know the Jayhawks were disappointed with how they played and the outcome.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) pulls a rebound away from Iowa State guard Monte Morris during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum. Also pictured are Kansas forward Landen Lucas and Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) pulls a rebound away from Iowa State guard Monte Morris during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum. Also pictured are Kansas forward Landen Lucas and Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue. by Nick Krug

2 – Forget what you might have read or seen on Twitter, Perry Ellis played a very solid game. He put up numbers — 19 points, 11 rebounds on 7-of-14 shooting, including 2-of-3 from three-point range — and he played hard. About the only down part of Ellis' game was the fact that he had to sit for most of the first half after picking up two fouls seven minutes into the game. Self said the fouls weren't really Ellis' fault and Ellis said having to sit really took him out of the flow. By the time he was back on the floor, it took him a couple of minutes to get going again, but once he did, he scored and competed on just about every trip, even if the outcomes of each possession didn't always show it. In Ellis' last three games against Iowa State, dating back to last season, the KU junior is 26-of-38 from the field (68 percent), and is averaging 23 points and 8 rebounds per game. For his career, Ellis owns a 15.7-point average in seven games against Iowa State.

Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson and Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue await a rebound during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum.

Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson and Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue await a rebound during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum. by Nick Krug

3 – Kansas did well on the glass — particularly the offensive boards where they grabbed 15 to 5 for the Cyclones — and kept the Cyclones from getting too many second chances, particularly on the 11 free throws ISU missed. But a big reason Iowa State did not get more offensive boards was that the home team shot 59 percent in the second half and rarely needed to crash the glass with passion because of their hot shooting and big leads. Still, give KU credit for owning a 44-33 advantage on the boards. Had the Jayhawks not, this one easily could have been another double-digit loss.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – The first and most obvious shortcoming in this one for KU was transition defense. The Cyclones often looked like a high school track team competing against track athletes from the local middle school and took full advantage of the edge that gave them. The stat sheet said ISU poured in 21 transition points but Self said the KU bench had it at 27. Most of those were easy layups or dunks right at the rim and came when KU either failed to get back on defense or simply did not have a presence at the rim when it did. The Cyclones became just the second team this season — and just the 12th team in the past 273 games — to shoot better than 50 percent (50.8) against a KU defense.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) casts a stunned expression as Iowa State players and fans celebrate a three by the Cyclones during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) casts a stunned expression as Iowa State players and fans celebrate a three by the Cyclones during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum. by Nick Krug

2 – KU did not shoot its first free throw until the 10:35 mark of the second half. Part of that was because of the way Iowa State played and the fact that the refs really let things flow, but given the fact that KU made 8 of 10 free throws by game's end, you can't help but wonder what would've happened if KU forced the action inside a little more and got to the line earlier. The Jayhawks went to the post on the first two possessions of the game but came up empty both times. The Jayhawks, at times, are really missing that guy like Andrew Wiggins (obviously) who could drive to the rim on just about any possession and wind up standing at the free throw line.

3 – You can't help but be concerned about what's going on with Cliff Alexander right now. All that talent, all that energy, all that potential and yet he played 14 minutes in this game while Landen Lucas labored for 19. Self said he was not pleased with Alexander's motor, particularly defensively, and, to Self's credit, he does not appear to be willing to give in to sub-par effort just to get his best players on the floor. That could wind up hurting this team, but it won't be Self's fault if it does. Nothing has changed during his time at Kansas and he's never made the recipe to playing time a secret: If you want to get on the court, play hard and play D. This is where the Jayhawks are lacking leadership from someone on the floor. Self can only send so many messages and call Alexander out so many times. At some point, it's up to the players on the roster to get the big guy to understand and buy in.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) fights for a rebound with Iowa State forward Jameel McKay (1) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) fights for a rebound with Iowa State forward Jameel McKay (1) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum. by Nick Krug

One for the road

No. 9 KU's loss to No. 11 Iowa State...

• Made the Jayhawks 14-3 overall and 3-1 in Big 12 play.

• Dropped KU's record to 2-2 in true road games this season and 6-3 in games played away from Allen Fieldhouse.

• Made Kansas’ record in the all-time series against Iowa State 175-61, including 68-38 in games played in Ames and 29-20 inside Hilton Coliseum.

• Gave Iowa State consecutive wins against the Jayhawks for the first time since ISU won five-straight from Feb. 28, 1999 to Feb. 17, 2001.

• Knocked head coach Bill Self's record to 339-72 while at Kansas, 21-5 against Iowa State (20-5 at Kansas) and 546-177 overall.

• Made KU 2,140-825 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks return home for yet another huge Big 12 Conference match-up when the Oklahoma Sooners come to Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night for an 8 p.m. Big Monday match-up.

By the Numbers, Iowa State beats Kansas 86-81

By the Numbers, Iowa State beats Kansas 86-81

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Toughness, teamwork common themes on David Beaty’s coaching staff

Today marked the third time since 2010 that I've found myself in the position of having to walk into a room full of football coaches whom I did not know and explain to them that I planned to spend the next however many years covering and caring about just about everything they think, say and do when it comes to Kansas football.

Because I've done this so often, I kind of have it down. First impressions are important, so you want to be professional and respectful. But you also want to be confident. Above everything else, though, you want to make sure you don't assume familiarity. Few things outrage me as much as that and I try very hard to make sure I'm never the one doing the assuming.

So there I was, with my hand extended, my business card ready to pass out, and my questions ready for the new members of David Beaty's KU football staff ready to go.

There were eight of them who met with the local media for the first time on Wednesday and although I didn't quite make my way around the room to say to all of them, I saw enough of them to know that what I thought was an impressive staff on paper is even more impressive in person.

It's not their resumes or track records or accomplishments that make Beaty's boys impressive. It's the type of people they are. Like their head coach, they're energetic, engaging, friendly dudes who are here to coach football and have a little fun doing it. When I say fun, I'm not talking about the kind of get-togethers you see at the country club. These guys are serious about the business and even more serious about the challenge they've agreed to take on by joining the football program at KU. But they're not so stuffy that they're going to be relentless jerks in their pursuit of that, nor are they so naïve to think that it's going to be easy.

Each one of these guys — Rob Likens (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Zach Yenser (offensive line), Calvin Thibodeaux (defensive line), Klint Kubiak (wide receivers), Gary Hyman (special teams/tight ends), Kevin Kane (linebackers), Je'Ney Jackson (director of strength and conditioning) and Gene Wier (director of high school relations) — seems well aware of the monumental rebuilding task that's ahead, and rather than being intimidated or turned off by that, these guys seem to be gearing up for a fight.

The two common themes that bounced around throughout the room were toughness and teamwork. Nearly every coach I spoke with mentioned something about playing tough and coaching tough kids. The most notable such soundbite came from Kubiak, the 27-year-old wide receivers coach who told me that he wanted KU's wide receivers to be the toughest unit on the team and added, “And if they're not, they won't play.”

Then there was offensive line coach Zach Yenser, whose position group is tougher than most by nature, who said he was not at all intimidated about jumping into the wild and wide-open Big 12 Conference after dealing with all kinds of styles of offenses in the Pac-12. Again, though, Yenser was not cocky when talking about why he thought what he, Beaty, offensive coordinator Rob Likens and the rest of the offensive staff would bring to the KU offense, more confident in his belief that, with hard work and, of course, toughness, it would work.

Speaking of Likens, he listed the three things that he wants to see from the offensive players he puts on the field and toughness was included in the trio of traits: We want them to be fast, we want them to be tough and we want them to have great character, he said. And he added that the staff was not really willing to compromise or sacrifice in any of those areas.

All the words and talk in the world won't mean a thing for the results on the field. And, by now, it's quite clear that KU fans are not interested in hearing about how things will be better or different or new. They just want to see better football.

I get the sense that this staff, like Beaty and like Clint Bowen before him, gets that and is made up of a bunch of regular guys who are much more interested in working and finding ways to fix problems and create advantages than talking about how they'll do it or what needs to happen.

Time will tell if my read on these guys is right or wrong or if it'll make a difference. But given what I learned today about the personalities and make-up of the coaches in charge of bringing change to KU football, it seems like the program is starting over in a pretty good spot — for the long haul — and is backed a bunch of coaches who understand the challenges, are willing to embrace them and should be pretty easy to like.

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The Day After: Cutting down the Cowboys

Teammates Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) and guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) come in to celebrate with Frank Mason III after Mason drew a foul on a bucket during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Teammates Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) and guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) come in to celebrate with Frank Mason III after Mason drew a foul on a bucket during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Kansas University men's basketball team jumped out to 3-0 in Big 12 play with a 67-57 victory over Oklahoma State on Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Despite the double-digit victory, this one was not easy. KU had to earn everything it got and did that more often than not by taking contact and heading to the free throw line.

The KU-OSU rivalry has become one of the best in the Big 12 during the past few seasons and, despite the absence of former OSU star Marcus Smart, Tuesday's clash did not disappoint as tempers flared, intensity was at a season-high and both teams needed every ounce of toughness they could muster to hang in there.

That's great news for this still-young Kansas team, which already has a gritty and gutsy road-win at Baylor and now this tough triumph over Oklahoma State under its belt in three conference games. Those kinds of early tests should better prepare the Jayhawks (14-2) for the grind of the next 15 Big 12 games and whatever lies beyond that.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) raises up his hands after  a lob pass to orward Cliff Alexander (2) for a dunk during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) raises up his hands after a lob pass to orward Cliff Alexander (2) for a dunk during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick takeaway

Most people are going to remember Tuesday's Oklahoma State victory for the missed free throws, another big-time game from Frank Mason, another step forward for the ever-improving Kelly Oubre and the latest physical showdown between the Jayhawks and Cowboys. But, for my money, the story of the game was the Kansas defense. Oklahoma State entered the game with the top two leading scorers in the Big 12 (Phil Forte and Le'Bryan Nash) and those two exceeded their averages, yet OSU scored just 57 points. Cowboys coach Travis Ford shared his frustration after the loss by simply saying that OSU had to find a way for other guys to score. Forte and Nash combined for 39 points (4 points above their combined average) against Kansas but the other 10 guys who played scored just 18 points. KU closed out on shots, forced the action by picking up its defense well above the three-point line, rebounded extremely well (OSU got just 3 offensive boards) and held OSU to 31.4 percent shooting. You've heard it before, but you can't hear it enough: Offense will take a night or two off, but defense can always be there. And it's clear that these young Jayhawks understand that.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Frank Mason made just 3 of 8 field goals and still was the best player in the game – by far. Why or how, you ask? Mason is such a tough competitor that determining whether his contribution was positive or negative on any given night goes far beyond the stat sheet. He led everybody with nine rebounds, most of them coming by helping clean up the defensive glass, and showed the kind of toughness, leadership and determination KU needed to be able to compete in a game as physical and emotional as Tuesday's battle with OSU. When your leader does that night in and night out, others tend to follow without even realizing they're doing it.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) floats in for a bucket over Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte III (13) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) floats in for a bucket over Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte III (13) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – Devonte' Graham is an absolute difference maker and he has barely missed a beat since returning from a six-game stint on the bench because of injury. It's not just the numbers that Graham puts up that make his presence important. It's the way he plays. He's tough, scrappy, confident and, above all, fun. That kind of energy brings a big lift to the floor and is the perfect complement to Frank Mason and his bulldog mentality. Self touched on it after the game, but Graham's defense on OSU sharp-shooter Phil Forte played a big role in keeping one of the Big 12's top leading scorers so quiet.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) takes some contact from Oklahoma State forward/center Anthony Allen Jr. (32) as he elevates for a dunk during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) takes some contact from Oklahoma State forward/center Anthony Allen Jr. (32) as he elevates for a dunk during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – Cliff Alexander played just 5 minutes in the second half after pouring in 7 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in 16 energy-packed minutes in the first half. The reason this is good news is because Bill Self said after the game that Alexander's limited minutes in the second half had nothing to do with his play. And it didn't sound like there was any kind of message being sent or discipline being dished out. It was just one of those nights where Self looked out onto the floor, liked what he saw out there and couldn't find a time or a place to plug Alexander back in. That'll happen. It'll be a problem if it happens too much, but it's big news that the pine time was not tied to Alexander's performance or a punishment.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Forget the free throw shooting, (even though KU missed 14 charity shots, it still made 32 and got to the line nearly 50 times) the bigger concern on Tuesday was KU's three-point shooting. With nearly half of their points coming from the free throw line, the Jayhawks got very little in the way of jump shots in this one. Wayne Selden hit a three-pointer early, Kelly Oubre did, too, and Mason drilled a big one after he and his teammates tracked down two extra shots on one possession. Outside of that, KU misfired on nine other tries from downtown and only took 12 total. Fortunately for the Jayhawks, the Cowboys were just as cold, finishing 3-of-16 from three-point range and shooting 31.4 percent from the floor for the game.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) turns for a shot over Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash (2) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) turns for a shot over Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash (2) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – Who would've thought, before the season, that KU could beat a Top-25 opponent with Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden combining to shoot 3-for-15 from the floor? Not me. By now, we've seen Ellis come in and out of these mini-funks or slumps and it seems, at least at this point, that it's just something the Jayhawks and KU fans may have to live with. There's something not right with Selden, too, and I'm not talking physically. His struggles around the rim are only getting worse, not better, and, despite the fact that his jumpers still look good, the guy just can't buy one at the bucket unless it's in transition. Props to the rest of the team for finding a way without these two guys, but if their offensive funks linger, it could catch up to this team at some point.

Kansas head coach Bill Self and official Darron George during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self and official Darron George during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – Bill Self said it best when he called Cliff Alexander's technical foul against the Cowboys bad and Jamari Traylor's worse. The reason? Traylor's a veteran who has been around the program and Big 12 battles long enough to know better. Emotion is a great part of the game, and, when utilized properly, can really give a team a lift. But when the emotions spill over into taunting or technical fouls due to some kind of physical altercation, that's when the line has been crossed. It's not like either guy has made a habit of these bonehead plays, so it's not complete cause for concern. But there's no doubt that Tuesday's technicals are the last Self wants to see, especially now that these guys have had the opportunity to “learn their lesson.”

One for the road

KU's third Big 12 victory in three tries this season:

• Made the Jayhawks 14-2 or better for the second time in the past three seasons and the seventh time in Bill Self’s 12 seasons at KU.

• Saw Kansas go 3-0 to start Big 12 play for the ninth-straight season and the 11th time under Self.

• Increased KU’s lead in the all-time series against Oklahoma State to 110-55, including 60-11 in games played in Lawrence and 45-9 inside Allen Fieldhouse.

• Extended Kansas’ win streak inside Allen Fieldhouse to 17 games, which includes an 8-0 mark this season.

• Changed KU’s all-time record inside Allen Fieldhouse to 721-109, including 183-9 under Self.

• Improved Self to 339-71 while at Kansas, 14-9 against his alma mater (13-6 at Kansas) and 546-176 overall.

• Made KU 2,140-824 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks will head out onto the road for another tough test at 8 p.m. Saturday, when they'll take on Iowa State in Ames. It's College Gameday at Hilton Coliseum so you can bet the Cyclones fans will be more than a little fired up for this one.

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Oklahoma State, 67-57

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Oklahoma State, 67-57

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