Entries from blogs tagged with “Tale of the Tait”

With Bledsoe OU-bound, the focus on KU’s D-Line shifts to Isaiah Bean

While Thursday's news that four-star defensive end and Lawrence High prospect Amani Bledsoe had picked Oklahoma over Kansas certainly qualified as disappointing for the KU football program, all is not lost.

The Jayhawks, who threw all they had at the local standout and did everything humanly possible to land him, will move on and still have five spots to fill in the 2016 recruiting class.

Granted, none of them look as appealing today as Bledsoe and it's doubtful that any of them — or even all of them combined — could bring the same kind of lift and momentum to the program that Bledsoe picking Kansas would have. But what's done is done and crying about what could have been certainly will not do anything to help this rebuilding program improve.

Give Kansas credit for cracking Bledsoe's final two. Even if the Jayhawks did not get him, encouraging a player of that caliber to give the program a long, hard look eventually will be seen as a good thing.

Today, however, the news is pretty disappointing.

That said, KU coach David Beaty and company don't have time to sulk. They've got a handful of visitors lined up for this weekend and they'll start trickling in tomorrow. The last thing those kids need to see is a coaching staff that's bummed out over losing Bledsoe. And they won't. Beaty and his staff, no matter how hard they took this one, know that this is the way recruiting in the college football world goes. You win some, you lose some and you can't get too high or too low no matter what the outcome.

Here's a list of some of the most likely candidates to fill KU's five remaining scholarships in the 2016 recruiting class that we posted the other day.

But, for now, with the news of Bledsoe picking Oklahoma still so fresh, let's take a closer look at one in particular.

His name is Isaiah Bean and he's a two-star defensive end prospect from Houston.

Bean currently stands 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs just 210 pounds. But it's easy to see that with a year to red-shirt and the proper strength and conditioning, he could quickly add 20-30 pounds to his frame and be more prepared to operate as a speed rusher.

The Summer Creek High prospect listed by Rivals.com as an “Athlete” has shown his versatility throughout his career, playing both offense and defense, and working at various summer camps as both a defensive end and a wide receiver.

You can see his frame and athleticism in the videos below.

Is Bean a ready-made, Day 1 contributor like Bledsoe? Not a chance. Could he be an intriguing project that pans out in a couple of years and impacts the program in a positive way? You bet.

And, right now, with KU in need of a defensive end in this class to fill the void left by Bledsoe's decision to pick OU, Bean is definitely better than nobody.

Rivals.com lists KU D-Line coach Calvin Thibodeaux as the lead recruiter for Bean, who also visited Tulsa and UNLV and plans to visit Fresno State.

Bean is expected to visit Kansas during the next two weekends and also holds offers from Fresno State, Iowa State, Tulsa, UNLV, Illinois, UMass, Louisiana-Lafayette, Prairie View A&M, Texas State and UT-San Antonio.

In the mood for more? Here's a link to Bean's HUDL page, which features game videos from his 2015 season.

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2581502/isaiah-bean

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The Day After: A Cowboy crumble

Oklahoma State guard Jeff Newberry (22) pulls back for a two-handed jam before several Kansas players during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

Oklahoma State guard Jeff Newberry (22) pulls back for a two-handed jam before several Kansas players during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla. by Nick Krug

If you would have told me before Tuesday's KU basketball game in Stillwater, Oklahoma, that the third-ranked Jayhawks would leave OSU with a loss for the third year in a row, I definitely would have believed that could be possible.

If you would have told me that the Jayhawks would leave town after being blown out by a 9-8 Cowboys squad, I would have called you crazy.

But that's exactly what happened Tuesday night, where KU, for the second road game in a row, lacked energy, urgency and passion, and watched the home team have its way, this time en route to a surprising 86-67 Oklahoma State victory.

Outside of a few possessions and a few minutes, KU looked completely overmatched in just about every area of this one, a fact that nobody could have seen coming as recently as two weeks ago, when KU was playing at a very high level and the Cowboys were struggling.

Losing on the road in the Big 12 is no reason to shut down a program and, clearly, it's going to happen a bunch of times for a bunch of teams this season. But based purely on talent, depth and match-ups on paper, this one seemed like a game that KU should not have lost but did because the Cowboys simply wanted it more and played better.

Quick takeaway

Here's the deal. Because Kansas basketball and its fans have enjoyed such an enormous and unmatched amount of success all these years, it's easy for the fan base to freak out after something does not go right for their beloved Jayhawks. But in this case, after the second sluggish road loss in a week, I think at least some of the freaking out is warranted. This team looks nothing like the team that was so special in that thrilling triple-OT win over Oklahoma a few weeks ago and everything like a team that, if it doesn't find itself soon, could be in real trouble. Now, trouble as it relates to Kansas, certainly is a relative term, but exactly what that means and how much it impacts this team will be determined by how these guys respond to this loss.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Following the loss, KU coach Bill Self owned it and took plenty of the blame, saying, “I've got to be able to motivate the kids better,” and “It's embarrassing, the manner in which we let them control the game, and that falls on me. I gotta get them better prepared to play.” I wouldn't have expected anything less. Self is not the kind of guy who's going to throw his players under the bus. But it still was good to see the ultra-successful KU coach staring in the mirror after this one. Had it just been one game, it could've been attributed to an off night. But this is now two road games in a row like that and it's up to everyone associated with the program to look for ways they can fix it.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) loses a rebound to Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans (1) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) loses a rebound to Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans (1) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla. by Nick Krug

2 – It might not have mattered much on the stat sheet, but it was good to see freshman forward Cheick Diallo rewarded for his solid game last Saturday against TCU with a spot in the starting lineup. Diallo, though still far from perfect in terms of execution and feel, had good energy early (one of the few guys who could say that) and clearly looked fired up about the opportunity to join the starting lineup. The question now is this: Will he stay there?

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) has words for forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) after Bragg threw a pass to an Oklahoma State defender during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) has words for forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) after Bragg threw a pass to an Oklahoma State defender during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla. by Nick Krug

3 – Quietly, freshman Carlton Bragg was solid for the second game in a row. Bragg finished 4-of-4 from the field for 8 points and added 4 rebounds while playing just 11 minutes because of four fouls. He's not yet to the point where his performance can pull the rest of his teammates out of the hole on nights when they struggle, but with a little more discipline and fewer freshman-style fouls, one can only wonder what Bragg could bring in twice as many minutes.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Everyone who watched or has read about this one knows, by now, that the Cowboys had much more energy and played with much more desire than the Jayhawks. Nowhere was that more evident than on the offensive glass in the first half, where OSU repeatedly got second and third opportunities simply by going after their misses and wanting them more than Kansas. Oklahoma State out-rebounded KU 38-31, including a 12-9 mark on the offensive glass, but it seems as if the only reason the margin wasn't greater was because OSU made 50 percent of its shots.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor wrestles for position with Oklahoma State guard Jeffrey Carroll, left, and forward Chris Olivier (31) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor wrestles for position with Oklahoma State guard Jeffrey Carroll, left, and forward Chris Olivier (31) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla. by Nick Krug

2 – The Jayhawks' passive, lethargic approach allowed the Cowboys to dictate the way this one went pretty much everywhere on the floor. But one of the areas this was most damning was in transition, where Oklahoma State suffocated KU's fastbreak opportunities and never allowed Kansas to get going with its up-tempo offense that so often leads to easy baskets. That made this a game played more in the half-court, where KU struggled to score on offense and, once again, was punked on defense, unable to stay in front of OSU's guards and drives to the rim.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) looks for an outlet after moving past Oklahoma State guard Jeffrey Carroll (30) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) looks for an outlet after moving past Oklahoma State guard Jeffrey Carroll (30) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla. by Nick Krug

3 – It looked to me like KU's offense was terribly undisciplined in this one from time to time. Rather than relaxing after an Oklahoma State bucket and heading down to the other end looking to get a good shot in response, KU way too often seemed to panic and went one-on-five or jacked up a quick shot, no doubt hoping to quickly get back into the game but instead digging a deeper hole and making its chances at winning or even competing much smaller. This was surprising coming from a group that includes so many veterans and I think it showed just how significant KU's current funk really is.

One for the road

KU's lopsided loss at Oklahoma State...

• Gave KU a 6-3 record in games away from Allen Fieldhouse, including a 2-2 mark in true road contests.

• Made Bill Self 367-81 while at Kansas, 574-186 for his career and 14-11 all-time against OSU (13-8 against OSU while at Kansas).

• Gave KU an all-time record of 2,168-834.

Next up

The Jayhawks will be back in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday for a 1 p.m. tip-off against Texas. The game will mark the first time since he took over the UT program that Longhorns' coach Shaka Smart has walked into Allen Fieldhouse.

— See what people were saying about KU at Oklahoma State during KUsports.com’s live coverage


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By the Numbers: Oklahoma State 86, Kansas 67

By the Numbers: Oklahoma State 86, Kansas 67

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Sooners’ early stretch just one indication of Big 12’s teeth

Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) grimaces after picking up a foul during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) grimaces after picking up a foul during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Only in the Big 12.

Only in the Big 12 — in 2016 — can a team that just defended its home court against one of the hottest teams in the country on Saturday, head north on Monday night as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation and lose to a team it had already beaten this season.

That's exactly what happened to Oklahoma on Monday night in Ames, Iowa, where the Cyclones picked up their most signature victory under their new head coach in an 82-77, Big Monday victory over the top-ranked Sooners on the same day OU moved into the No. 1 spot in the polls. This, two days after OU outlasted soon-to-be-No.6 West Virginia, four days after the Mountaineers handed then-top-ranked Kansas (now No. 3, for now) its most humbling loss of the season.

Sooooo, yeah. We've all known for a while now that it was going to be one heck of a year in the Big 12 Conference, by far the nation's best league, top to bottom, but did any of us know it was going to be this wild?

Five or six games into the league schedule, we've already seen No. 1 fall twice, two different players top 40 points in a single game and nearly 10 contests that featured incredible competition and thrilling finishes.

And, wait, there has to be another 10 or so just like them still to go before a champion is crowned and the postseason tournament rolls around.

Following the OU-ISU game on Monday night, — already the second meeting between these two conference giants — I couldn't help but think how what the Sooners already have been through in Big 12 play represent a great look at just how deep, talented and dangerous the conference is this year.

Here's a look:

Jan. 2 – vs. No. 11 Iowa State – Sooners trail at a couple of different points in the second half but dig deep to win to set up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle with Kansas two nights later.

Jan. 4 – at No. 1 Kansas – Triple-overtime thriller, which went to Kansas, 109-106, figures to go down as the game of the year in college basketball and was one of the best games ever played at Allen Fieldhouse. OU guard Buddy Hield was sensational in scoring 46 points against the Jayhawks.

Jan. 9 — vs. K-State — OU shot 57 percent and Hield went for 31 in a much-needed bounce-back win (86-76) after physically and emotionally draining loss at KU.

Jan. 13 — at Oklahoma State — Bedlam turned out to be exactly that, as the Sooners survived a last-second three-pointer and 42 points from freshman Juwan Evans to win 74-72. After two sensational offensive games, Hield finished with 26 but also turned it over a whopping 10 times, including the near fatal give-away in the final seconds.

Jan. 16 — vs. No. 10 West Virginia — West Virginia and its scrappy, pressing defense limited Hield to 17 points and the Sooners needed a tip-in at the buzzer from Khadeem Latin to come away with a hard-fought, two-point home victory. This win, from the KU perspective, was enormous because had the Mountaineers found a way to eek it out, they would quickly have become a serious contender to end KU's streak of 11 straight Big 12 regular season titles.

Jan. 18 — at No. 19 Iowa State — OU got 27 from Hield and 26 more from Isaiah Cousins, but the Cyclones, eyeing revenge, saw three players top the 20-point mark and used a rocking Hilton Coliseum to knock off the top-ranked Sooners.

Jan. 23 — at Baylor — To be determined.

So there the Sooners sit, after what only can be described as six killer conference games, with a 4-2 Big 12 record and a point differential in those six games of plus-10. That's 2.5 points per win, which

Other than using this OU stretch as an obvious indicator that life in the Big 12 is serious business, it also tells me something else — if the Jayhawks hope to make it 12 in a row they better bring their best every night, because (a) every team in the conference is going to be gunning for them and every team in the conference is now talented enough to beat them on any given night, and (b) the Sooners already have made it through some of the toughest games on their conference schedule.

Including a Feb. 9 home game against KU, OU has a largely favorable second-half Big 12 schedule that could make hoping for others to help KU at the top of the standings by knocking off the Sooners a

As always, the best way for the Jayhawks to capture yet another Big 12 crown is to hold serve at home, where they already are 3-0, and avoid any pitfalls on the road, where they already have suffered one stinging setback.

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The Day After: Toppling TCU

Kansas head coach Bill Self huddles up the Jayhawks during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse

Kansas head coach Bill Self huddles up the Jayhawks during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse by Nick Krug

Saturday's 70-63 victory over TCU at Allen Fieldhouse was just what this Kansas basketball team needed in so many different ways.

The first and, in some ways most important, was that it served as a solid bounce-back from Tuesday's sluggish and sloppy loss at West Virginia.

More than that, though, it provided the Jayhawks a chance to feel good about themselves in the cozy confines of Allen Fieldhouse and their adoring home fans, gave KU a temporary break from life on the road and gave Bill Self a perfect opportunity to give Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg some meaningful minutes. More on that in a minute.

As Bill Self predicted, this was by no means an easy win at home, as TCU, much like KU football against TCU during the past few years, gave KU a strong challenge from start to finish and, even when falling behind by double digits, never quit battling.

That forced KU to finish and that, too, was another good thing that the Jayhawks gained from this one.

Quick takeaway

One of the most impressive aspects of Saturday's victory was the fact that you could see Kansas improve in several of the areas that plagued them in the loss to West Virginia. The energy was up, the effort was better, KU took care of the ball and battled on the boards and, instead of letting TCU dictate the way the game was played, the Jayhawks did their best to assert themselves in all areas of the game.

Three reasons to smile

1 – It's been written a lot on this site in the past 18 hours or so, but I don't think you can say it enough. The way Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg played on Saturday — in a conference game, against a solid team that happened to play pretty darn well — was about as good of an outcome as Bill Self and company could've hoped for. Both guys were aggressive yet relaxed and intense yet intelligent and they put their stamps all over this game. If that kind of performance is the confidence springboard that those two guys needed to really come on during the second half of the season, a darn good KU team is about to get a whole lot better.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets up to reject a shot from TCU forward Devonta Abron (23) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets up to reject a shot from TCU forward Devonta Abron (23) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse by Nick Krug

2 – Diallo and Bragg obviously were a big part of it, but the entire KU bench actually played pretty well. Svi (7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal) was solid and also looked more comfortable than he has in recent weeks and Jamari Traylor, though still shaky at times, grabbed four boards, including two on the offensive end. KU's bench outscored the Frogs 29-16 and in a game decided by seven points, that's a pretty big advantage.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) floats in for a bucket over TCU forward Karviar Shepherd (32) and guard Michael Williams (2) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) floats in for a bucket over TCU forward Karviar Shepherd (32) and guard Michael Williams (2) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – KU's transition defense was pretty good for the third game in a row. After getting torched for 17 fastbreak points by Oklahoma a few games ago, KU gave up just four to TCU on Saturday and has surrendered just eight fastbreak points combined in the last three games.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Saturday was far from KU's best day shooting the ball from the outside, but it wasn't just the fact that KU's percentage (5-of-20 for 25 percent) came back down to Earth, it was also the way the Jayhawks looked while shooting from the outside. Very few of KU's three-point looks actually looked to be smooth shots in rhythm, and it was clear throughout the afternoon that KU was going to have to win this game another way, which they did.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) pulls up for a three in front of TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky (10) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) pulls up for a three in front of TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky (10) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse by Nick Krug

2 – It's not like he's been terrible, but Frank Mason definitely has not been quite right the past few games. I can't help but wonder if Mason is dealing with some kind of nagging injury that we don't know about, which would make sense given how hard he plays and how many falls he takes. Mason still looks great in transition and can blow by anybody on his way to the rim there. But in the half-court, he struggles a little more to finish on drives to the paint these days and often puts the ball too hard off the backboard. Beyond that, his three-point shot doesn't look quite as smooth and seems a little bit rushed at times.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) elevates to throw a pass around TCU forward Chris Washburn (33) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is TCU guard Chauncey Collins (1).

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) elevates to throw a pass around TCU forward Chris Washburn (33) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is TCU guard Chauncey Collins (1). by Nick Krug

3 – It was a rough game for three parts of KU's big man rotation. Landen Lucas, Hunter Mickelson and Jamari Traylor all had games they'd rather forget and even though each of them figures to continue to hold some kind of role on this roster, their collective struggles provided further evidence for opponents that KU is vulnerable at that spot. It might work out that on the same day that this trio struggled, KU's two freshmen stepped up. And if Bragg and Diallo continue to show what they showed Saturday, KU might wind up better off. If not, these guys need to get back to at least fulfilling their roles or things are going to get even scarier for KU's big man rotation.

One for the road

KU's hard-fought victory over TCU on Saturday...

• Made 55-9 following a loss in the Self era, including a 31-6 record following a conference loss.

• Gave KU its seventh-straight win against TCU and made the series 11-1 in favor of the Jayhawks.

• Made KU 9-0 in Allen Fieldhouse this season and extend its home court winning streak to 33 games, which tied for the fourth longest in school history.

• Made KU 737-109 all-time in Allen Fieldhouse, including 199-9 under Self.

• Made Self 367-80 while at Kansas, 574-185 for his career and 15-4 all-time versus TCU.

• Made KU 2,168-833 all-time.

Next up

After a quick stop at home, the Jayhawks head back out on the road on Tuesday, when they'll play at Oklahoma State at 6 p.m. in Stillwater.

— See what people were saying about KU vs. TCU during KUsports.com’s live coverage


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By the Numbers: Kansas 70, TCU 63

By the Numbers: Kansas 70, TCU 63

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Court-storming not exactly discouraged following WVU’s win over No. 1 Kansas

A West Virginia cheerleader rides on top of a crowd of fans as the rush the court after defeating the Jayhawks 74-63 at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday.

A West Virginia cheerleader rides on top of a crowd of fans as the rush the court after defeating the Jayhawks 74-63 at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday. by Mike Yoder

With the outcome long since decided and only the final margin yet to be determined, you could see the swell of West Virginia students preparing for the inevitable.

With a little more than 2 minutes remaining in Tuesday's 74-63 beat-down of top-ranked Kansas, overjoyed Mountaineers fans readied for a court-storm.

It didn't take a genius to see it was coming, and, if you think about it, it almost should be expected at this point. After all, West Virginia fans have stormed the floor after beating Kansas at home in each of the past three years and KU also has seen courts stormed by fans at Oklahoma State, Kansas State and TCU.

However, even with all of the talk this offseason about new rules to emphasize safety in these types of situations, not a thing was said about it. There was no announcement by the public address announcer encouraging fans to stay off the floor. Ushers did not position themselves in a way that might discourage the fans from storming the floor. In fact, the only evidence I saw of any preparation for the inevitable was a quartet of event staff members preparing to protect ESPN broadcasters Fran Fraschilla and Brent Musberger and KU coach Bill Self himself waving his players off the floor before time had even expired.

Note: KU's bench was in the bottom left-hand corner of this video.

Now, don't get me wrong. As far as court-stormings go, this one was pretty tame. That, as much as anything, might be the most damning aspect of KU's ugly loss on Tuesday night.

Usually when teams knock off Kansas, the home fans are so beside themselves with joy that they don't know how to handle it and often allow the emotion of the big, sometimes improbable, victory to turn them into lunatics. That wasn't the case on Tuesday. Not only was there nothing improbable about WVU's victory, but the fans almost seemed to storm the floor out of obligation rather than jubilation.

In fact, at one point, midway through the second half, Gary Bedore and I talked about how if ever there were a game that would prevent opposing fans from storming the court after an upset of Kansas, the thorough domination by the Mountaineers was it.

In the past 12 hours or so, I've had a lot of people inquire about why nothing was done about WVU's court-storming following Tuesday's victory.

And the answer is simple.

Although the Big 12 did address the practice with rule changes and new legislation this offseason — in large part thanks to the crazy scene at K-State during which Jamari Traylor was shoulder-checked by a KSU student — most of the enforcement of these new rules remains subjective.

In short, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby possesses the right to punish any program for unruly behavior by its fans but he is not obligated to do so. The punishment includes everything from a fine to loss of a future home game.

Now, nothing about West Virginia's storming on Tuesday led me to believe anything serious is coming. Heck, they might even go unpunished. And I'd be completely fine with that.

Perhaps the WVU athletic department did more behind the scenes than I'm aware of to make this a cool, calm and collected moment rather than mass chaos. If so, bravo. I, in no way, am calling them out here.

I just thought it was interesting to note that upon the first opportunity for us to see court storming in the new era of Big 12 basketball, very little was done to prevent it.

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The Day After: No. 1 falls in the mountains of West Virginia

Kansas coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks bench watch the closing minutes of the Jayhawks 74-63 loss to the Mountaineers at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday.

Kansas coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks bench watch the closing minutes of the Jayhawks 74-63 loss to the Mountaineers at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday. by Mike Yoder

Tuesday's loss at West Virginia was as bad as just about any of the good moments that KU has enjoyed this season.

Remember how good Kansas looked in holding off Oklahoma in one of the most epic games in years a couple of weeks ago? Well, yeah. The Jayhawks looked at least that bad in getting blasted by West Virginia on Tuesday night in Morgantown.

It's too bad the Mountaineers shot just 33 percent from the field because that helped keep the score down and, at least on paper, a 74-63 loss does not look all that bad. The way Kansas played in this one — or, perhaps more appropriately put, didn't play — the Jayhawks certainly deserved to suffer a 20-point beatdown.

Who knows what exactly the reason behind that was, but there was just something off about this team from the beginning. And when you combine that vibe for the road team with the intensity of a Top-15 team looking to make a statement, you're looking at a recipe for a one-sided contest.

That's exactly what Tuesday was, but the good news about college basketball — as opposed to college football or even the NFL — is that the Jayhawks do not have to wait an entire week to get back on the floor. They'll play again in just a few days and you can bet they'll be learning a ton about themselves and their shortcomings in the days leading up to that.

After Tuesday, it's obvious that this team still has plenty it can learn and plenty of areas to improve upon.

Quick takeaway

Teams are going to have off nights. And, as both Bill Self and Landen Lucas explained in the postgame, nobody expected the Jayhawks to go undefeated in Big 12 play this season. So it's not the loss that's alarming. What is a concern, however, is how it happened. KU was straight punked by a West Virginia team that looked like it didn't just think but knew it was better than the Jayhawks and the Kansas players did nothing to change their minds. The team lacked energy, effort, intensity and even heart and common sense at times. It's a long season. And Kansas no doubt will bounce back. But it's possible that the performance at Texas Tech last weekend, which definitely was a strong and impressive response to the emotion of that OU game, got this team feeling itself a little too much.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Even though he was not immune to the crappy play that crippled his teammates, Perry Ellis actually was pretty solid. That's when they could get him the ball. Ellis, who led the team with 21 points and 7 rebounds, showed, yet again, just how talented he is and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that if the Jayhawks need a bucket, he's the guy they should — and likely would — go to first. Every time.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis drives to the basket for two points in a game between the Jayhawks and the Mountaineers at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis drives to the basket for two points in a game between the Jayhawks and the Mountaineers at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday. by Mike Yoder

2 – Very few of them mattered — Wayne Selden hit a couple early and Devonte' Graham drained a big one just before halftime — but you can't blame this loss on KU's struggle to shoot the ball. Despite finishing at just 41.7 percent for the game, the Jayhawks were 50 percent (10 of 20) from three-point range in this one. The problem with that was, excluding Ellis' ability to score in close, the three-point shot was about the only thing Kansas did well offensively in an ugly, ugly game all the way around. Still, KU's hottest three-point shooting team in years is showing no signs of cooling down.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr., shots in a three-point basket in the first half of a game between the Jayhawks and the Mountaineers at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr., shots in a three-point basket in the first half of a game between the Jayhawks and the Mountaineers at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday. by Mike Yoder

3 – I mentioned this in the Keegan Ratings so bear with me if it seems repetitive, but I think Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor both deserve a tip of the cap for at least looking as if they wanted to be there on Tuesday night. Forget their stats. Neither guy really did much in that department. But they played with passion and appeared to genuinely be bothered by the fact (and way) that their team was laying an egg. I've been critical of the basketball talents of both players during the past couple of seasons, but both guys deserve credit for showing up on a night when the rest of their team didn't. If KU would've gotten that kind of heart from the rest of the lineup, the Jayhawks easily could've left Morgantown with a victory.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – For the life of me, I just can't figure out how or even why KU showed up in West Virginia and looked completely unprepared to play. I'm not talking about coaching and game plan here. I'm talking about effort and energy and body language. It truly looked as if this was a team that wanted no part of being there. That baffles me. If I'm playing on the No. 1 team in the country and I'm a veteran who has been around college basketball three or four years, you can bet darn sure that I'm going to be fired up every night I get to play to prove that I'm worthy of that No. 1 ranking. The Jayhawks on Tuesday were neither fired up nor worthy of the ranking and they got what they deserved because of it.

West Virginia guard Jaysean Paige (5) celebrates a West Virginia play next to Kansas guard Frank Mason III in the Jayhawks 74-63 loss to the Mountaineers in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday.

West Virginia guard Jaysean Paige (5) celebrates a West Virginia play next to Kansas guard Frank Mason III in the Jayhawks 74-63 loss to the Mountaineers in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday. by Mike Yoder

2 – West Virginia's press is good. Really good. But 22 turnovers good? I'm not so sure. At least not against Kansas, a team that possesses so many guys who can handle the basketball (something we have made sure to point out all season). The most confusing part about the breakdown against the WVU press was not that it happened. It's going to happen. That style and intensity would force even the most solid teams into a couple of mistakes. But the most confusing part was there were enough moments where it was clear that Kansas knew how to break that press — and occasionally did it with ease — that I'm not sure why it didn't happen more often. Credit West Virginia for making life miserable for the Jayhawks. But the road team did itself no favors in that department either.

Kansas coach Bill Self tries to catch a loose ball as Kansas forward Jamari Traylor chased it out of bounds in a game between the Jayhawks and the Mountaineers in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday.

Kansas coach Bill Self tries to catch a loose ball as Kansas forward Jamari Traylor chased it out of bounds in a game between the Jayhawks and the Mountaineers in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday. by Mike Yoder

3 – I like Svi's game and I think he could wind up being a good player in time, but right now he seems pretty one-dimensional — he's a spot-up shooter. And when he's not knocking, as was the case on Tuesday night, I'm not sure how or why he plays 17 minutes. Svi was 0-of-4 from the floor, 0-of-3 from three-point range and picked up one assist, one steal, one block and one turnover. As underwhelming as those stats are, I think the biggest factor that triggered the hey-what's-this-guy-doing-out-there-so-much meter was the fact that you could see him out there with your own eyes but really could not come up with a single thing he had done, good or bad. It's too bad, too, because earlier this season, it really looked as if the Ukrainian sensation was headed toward turning the corner.

One for the road

KU's loss at No. 11 West Virginia...

• Ended a 13-game winning streak, the longest since an 18-game winning streak during the 2012-13 season

• Made KU 2-1 in true road games and 7-2 in games not played in Allen Fieldhouse this season.

• Moved Self to 366-80 while at KU and 573-185 all-time.

• Dropped the Jayhawks to 2,167-833 all-time.

Next up

After one of the Big 12's worst road double-headers, the Jayhawks will be back in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday for a 1 p.m. tip-off against TCU. Those poor Horned Frogs.

More news and notes from No. 1 Kansas at No. 11 West Virginia


By the Numbers: West Virginia 74, Kansas 63

By the Numbers: West Virginia 74, Kansas 63

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The Day After: Surviving a scare in west Texas

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) and Texas Tech forward Matthew Temple (34) hustle for a loose ball under the bucket during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) and Texas Tech forward Matthew Temple (34) hustle for a loose ball under the bucket during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

In some ways, Saturday's 69-59 victory at Texas Tech by the Kansas basketball team might have been more impressive than the Jayhawks' triple-overtime win over Oklahoma last Monday.

Why?

Simple. It's easy to see how a team could get fired up for a home game on Big Monday against the No. 2 team in the nation that also happens to be the most likely challenger to end KU's streak of 11 straight Big 12 titles. Getting up for the very next game on a Saturday night in an unfamiliar environment against a team that hasn't been relevant for years? Not as easy.

But the Jayhawks did it. After resting and recovering following that epic win over Oklahoma on Monday night, KU got tough to survive Texas Tech on Saturday.

The Red Raiders clearly are a much better team than we've seen in the recent past and Tubby Smith has them playing hard. That Tech lineup is full of legit athletes and their attack is pretty balanced, which also makes them tough to play and defeat.

But Kansas did that on Saturday night thanks to the play of their toughest player, junior point guard Frank Mason, who finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists and was clutch down the stretch in every way you could imagine.

The victory moved No. 1 Kansas to 14-1 overall and 3-0 in Big 12 play and gave the Red Raiders (11-3, 1-2) their first home loss of the season.

Quick takeaway

Give KU credit for taking the Red Raiders seriously. I'm sure having five days to rest and prep for Tech did not hurt, but, still, it would've been very easy for Kansas to overlook this game in anticipation of what has become a pretty big game on Tuesday night in Morgantown, West Virginia, where the Big 12's only two unbeatens will square off at 7 p.m. The concept of a trap game has become pretty cliché. But they do exist. This definitely was one. And the Jayhawks refused to be victimized. This one didn't lead SportsCenter and it won't be talked about for decades, but in the grand scheme of what this team wants to accomplish this season, this, too, was a very big win.

Three reasons to smile

1 – I already talked about KU being up for this game, but that was particularly important in the first five minutes and KU was up for the challenge. That first five minutes set the tone for the game. You know Tech and its fan base were fired up after waiting all day for the chance to take on No. 1 and had KU been flat at all the Jayhawks easily could've found themselves playing from behind and digging out of a hole instead early instead of forcing the Red Raiders to chase them. KU kept the upperhand pretty much the entire way and never gave Tech a real belief that they could pull off the upset. Credit the coaching staff for emphasizing the importance of a strong start and the maturity of this veteran roster for paying attention and taking the coaches' words seriously.

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. left, forward Jamari Traylor and guard Lagerald Vick celebrate a lob dunk to forward Perry Ellis to widen the Jayhawk's lead late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. left, forward Jamari Traylor and guard Lagerald Vick celebrate a lob dunk to forward Perry Ellis to widen the Jayhawk's lead late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

2 – If you watched it, or even if you've only read about it, you already know how good Frank Mason was. Flirted with a triple-double, played tough on D, kept things flowing on offense and knocked down 3 of 6 three-point tries to help KU hold off the Red Raiders. But, in my opinion, Mason's ability to get to the free throw line was by far his biggest contribution in this one. The junior got to the line eight times and hit all eight charity shots in the 10-point win. A big part of getting to the line depends upon how the refs are calling the game, but Mason forced the action several times and made them blow the whistle, therein giving KU what amounted to free points. Mason has been to the free throw line eight or more times just two other times this season, but he knows its importance and he also knows how to turn a 3-of-8 shooting performance into a night when he delivers a game-high point total.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is fouled on his way up to the bucket by Texas Tech center Norense Odiase (32) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is fouled on his way up to the bucket by Texas Tech center Norense Odiase (32) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

3 – The Jayhawks were great on the glass in this one, finishing with a 42-26 rebounding edge, including an advantage of 32-19 on the defensive glass. Had Tech been able to get just a few more second-chance points (the Red Raiders won that battle, 11-7) this one might have been even more interesting/dangerous than it already was. Mason and Perry Ellis did most of the heavy lifting here, finishing with 10 boards apiece.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – KU's team defense was pretty decent in this one, but the on-the-ball, man-to-man D struggled at times, particularly in the first half, when the Red Raiders got several buckets off of straight-line drives to the rim that featured the home team's guards simply blowing by a KU defender. Devonte' Graham had notable trouble staying with his man and any times these breakdowns occurred, they put strain on KU's bigs, who did their best to rotate and cover but were caught out of position a few times and surrendered easy buckets at the rim.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III tries to cut between Texas Tech forward Zach Smith (11) and guard Keenan Evans (12) for an attempted steal during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III tries to cut between Texas Tech forward Zach Smith (11) and guard Keenan Evans (12) for an attempted steal during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

2 – Calling a team out for a lack of killer instinct is often times unfair, but I think it applies here because Kansas allowed Texas Tech to get back into it twice in the second half after opening up sizable leads. The first came after KU's impressive start to the second half helped build a 42-32 lead. Instead of burying Tech from there, KU fell victim to a 12-2 Red Raider run and found the game tied just a few minutes later. After that, Kansas went back up eight points and again appeared to take control only to see the Red Raiders flirt with making it a one-possession game a few more times down the stretch. KU always pushed back when it got tested, but, as well as KU played in the second half, there was no need for the Jayhawks to let Tech hang around.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) puts up a three over Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans (12) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) puts up a three over Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans (12) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

3 – KU was hot down the stretch and Frank Mason, Wayne Selden and even Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk hit a few huge three-pointers to ice the game, but I thought the KU offense settled for three-point looks way too often during the second half. This was surprising, given the fact that the night began with what was clearly an off night in terms of shooting the outside shot. Even still, KU finished 9-of-22 from downtown — just a tick below the season average — and, if nothing else, this fact provides a crystal clear look at how important the three-point shot is for this team. If KU coach Bill Self is OK with his guys firing away even on a night when they got off to a cold start, you can bet he has accepted the triple as a major part of what makes this team tick.

One for the road

KU's impressive road win over a scrappy Texas Tech team...

• Made Kansas 14-1 and extended the Jayhawks' win streak to 13 games, the longest since the 2012-13 squad won 18 straight.

• Gave KU its 13th straight win over Texas Tech.

• Improved KU to 2-0 in true road games this season and 6-1 in games not played in Allen Fieldhouse.

• Moved Kansas Self to 366-79 while at KU and 573-184 all-time.

• Improved the Jayhawks to 2,167-832 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks will remain on the road for their next game, a 7 p.m. clash at West Virginia on Tuesday night. West Virginia, which entered Saturday night ranked 17th, knocked off Oklahoma State, 77-60, on Saturday night to move to 3-0 in conference play, which means Tuesday's showdown will be for sole possession of first place four games into the Big 12 season.


More news and notes from Kansas at Texas Tech


By the Numbers: Kansas 69, Texas Tech 59

By the Numbers: Kansas 69, Texas Tech 59

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KU-OU thriller was birthday gift, first-game experience for local woman

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) wrestles away a ball from Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) and tosses it to Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) late in the third overtime, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) wrestles away a ball from Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) and tosses it to Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) late in the third overtime, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Every so often, the stars align, one's path becomes clear and a magical moment appears before them.

For lifelong Kansas University basketball fan Jamie Taylor, that moment came Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

The origin for Taylor attending what many people are openly calling the greatest game in Allen Fieldhouse history dates back to Christmas, when her brother, Todd Mathews, surprised her with tickets to a January game against Oklahoma at Allen Fieldhouse. The timing of the gift, which was actually for her birthday — midnight the night of the game — gave Taylor time to clear her schedule so she could make her first ever trip to Allen Fieldhouse.

Both siblings knew then that the Big 12 clash would be a good game because the Sooners and Jayhawks, but there's no way either of them could have predicted it would be anything like it was.

“I've always wanted to go to a game,” said Taylor, a Topeka native who has lived in Overland Park for years. “But mostly with my brother. So when he moved back home after 15 years of living on the east coast, we talked about all of the things we needed to do to catch up on being brother and sister and going to a game was at the top of the list.”

Already overjoyed about her chance to final see the inside of Allen Fieldhouse, or, “walking into that church everybody talks about,” Taylor's excitement only grew in the days before the game when it became clear that KU and OU would square off as the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams in the nation.

Sitting in her seats, with one of the greatest games in recent memory unfolding in front of her, Taylor could not help but marvel at how lucky she was for THIS game to have been her first and on her birthday, no less.

Asked how the experience compared to what she envisioned all these years, the birthday girl who has spent most of her life working weekends, which made it hard to get to a game, explained with three short words: “It exceeded it,” she said. “It was so cool.”

Her favorite part of the 109-106, triple-overtime thriller — other than the KU victory, of course — was getting to watch two great teams play at such a high and intense level for so long. “I just loved how hard both teams fought,” she said. “It was dog eat dog out there.”

Not long ago, as the Kansas City Royals were wrapping up the regular season and beginning to make their push toward the franchise's first world championship since 1985, Taylor thought she had hit the jackpot by taking her brother to one of KC's final home games. This gift, however, far surpassed that and now Taylor is looking for a way to one-up her brother somewhere down the road.

“I'd love to go again,” she said. “But I doubt anything will ever equal that, especially being there with my brother and the noise in there. It was so loud. My brother's not going to be able to top this gift ever and now it's up to me to try to outdo him.”

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KU-OU delivers 1.9 overnight rating; So what does that mean?

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets a foul from Oklahoma guard Dinjiyl Walker (2) during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets a foul from Oklahoma guard Dinjiyl Walker (2) during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

According to ESPN, KU's 109-106, triple-overtime thriller over Oklahoma came back with an overnight rating of 1.9, making it the highest Big 12 Big Monday game on record since the network started keeping track in 2002.

That certainly should come as no surprise given the fact that Monday's showdown was a clash of the top two teams in the polls played on a night that has become synonymous with thrilling college basketball.

What's more, even those people who did not shape their entire night around the game — no one around here, of course — surely felt compelled to tune in when they heard No. 1 vs. No. 2 was headed to overtime or double overtime or perhaps even triple-OT.

I've never really tried to understand what the ratings are all about all these years. I've just trusted that the people who are sending out that information know what they're talking about and when they say a number like 1.9 is high, I believe 'em.

But this game. This epic game that still will be talked about decades from now, piqued my interest so I made a quick call to inquire what the rating means.

Here's what I got:

According to Nielsen, which keeps track of the ratings, there are 123.2 million viewing households in the United States. When they say that the game received an overnight rating of 1.9, that simply means that 1.9 percent of 123.2 million — or roughly 2.34 million — households watched last night's game.

A KU administrator I talked to about the ratings explained that while the ratings are not an exact science they are detailed enough for Nielsen to confidently say that 2.34 million households actually watched the game. So this isn't just a situation where someone who was channel surfing got credit for watching the KU-OU game even when they were only on ESPN for about 3.2 seconds.

The administrator told me to view the ratings kind of in the same way we view political polls. They're far from exact but they give you a pretty good indication of the overall landscape and viewing statistics.

In addition, I was told that the game likely peaked with a rating of 2.6 but did not stay there long enough to pull the overall number above 1.9. I'm guessing that's because a ton of people tuned in for all or part of the overtimes.

Here's a little more: Last night's game delivered a 16.79 rating in the Kansas City demographic, the highest for a KU game since the Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats squared off on Feb. 11, 2013.

Again, in all, 16.79 percent of the KC households (923,290) watched last night's game, putting that number at a national high of 150,945.

Curious who else was watching the game last night?

Here's a quick look at the Top 5 markets that tuned in.

  1. Kansas City — 150,945
  2. New York City — 89,000
  3. Oklahoma City — 74,804
  4. Dallas/Fort Worth — 74,098
  5. Chicago — 57,689

What's more, it was the highest-rated regular season game in Oklahoma City demographic since Texas-OU in 2009.

Clearly, those who tuned in got their money's worth and although the 1.9 ESPN rating might not put KU-OU in the same context as popular sitcoms MASH or Cheers in their heydays, putting the game in the context of Big Monday and college basketball shows you precisely just what a big time event this was.

Not that you needed a television rating to tell you that.

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The Day After: Simply put, one of the best games in Allen Fieldhouse history

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pumps his fist after coming away with a steal and a foul by the Sooners during the first half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pumps his fist after coming away with a steal and a foul by the Sooners during the first half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

If you're still buzzing about Monday night's triple-overtime thriller between No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Oklahoma, you're definitely not alone.

The Internet, literally every nook and cranny of it, is full of people talking about the Jayhawks' 109-106 victory over the Sooners for which both teams deserve a ton of credit.

Typically, this blog is designed to provide a specific and detailed look at the previous game played by the Jayhawks, dissecting the ins and outs of what Kansas did well and did wrong before moving on to the next game.

But last night was so good, so memorable, such a well played basketball game by two incredibly talented teams, that I've decided to give the game its proper respect. After all, it's not every day that you hear the words “best game in the history of Allen Fieldhouse” get tossed around and think that people may be using them in the right context.

It was an unbelievable game, one that those who were there and the millions more who watched on television, won't soon forget. And the best part about it was it wasn't one those “great games” that gets that tag just because it included a great finish or a remarkable comeback. This one was great from start to finish on both sides and, outside of the players who might not have survived it, I'm guessing there are more than a few people out there who wish it was still being played, heading into its 27th overtime.

Quick takeaway

You can talk about all of the great individual plays, the good moments and the bad, the questionable calls and the wild finish, but the easiest way to sum all of that up into one simple phrase is to put it like this: Both teams played their asses off. I already thought Buddy Hield was the best player in the country and came away even more in awe of his all-around game. And, in case you didn't pick this up, OU is absolutely, 100 percent a real live national title contender. As for the Jayhawks, they showed something that they've had a hard time delivering these past couple of years from time to time — heart, grit, toughness and an unwavering desire to win at whatever cost. Both teams laid it all on the line and both teams deserve a ton of credit for their effort and the dazzling display of basketball they gave us. But make no mistake about it, keeping that Big 12 title streak alive means the world to the Jayhawks and their pride, passion and team-first mentality delivered a huge victory that could wind up going a long way toward making that happen.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) strips a ball from Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) strips a ball from Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Three reasons to smile

1 – Because it happened and games like this are so rare that, regardless of who won or lost, you just have to appreciate the opportunity to see such quality basketball in such an incredible environment. One of the most remarkable things to me was that in 55 minutes of hard-nosed basketball that featured all kinds of scrums, just one player fouled out and the teams combined to commit just 30 turnovers. In a game played at this level, with so much on the line, both feats are absolutely incredible.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) defends against a three from Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) in triple overtime, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) defends against a three from Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) in triple overtime, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – I'll be the first to tip my cap to Buddy Hield for his incredible 46-point effort, which came on 13-of-23 shooting, 8-of-15 from three-point range, but even though the Jayhawks did not have ONE player who got into one of those epic, anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better wars with the potential national player of the year, they got by because they had THREE guys who did. In his younger days, Wayne Selden would've tried to match Hield shot for shot, big play for big play and possibly hurt his team in the process. On Monday, Selden continued to play his game, attacked when he could and deferred to teammates when it wasn't there. Selden finished with 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting. When he couldn't find a shot, Perry Ellis did what senior leading scorers are supposed to do and found a way to score. There were stretches where Ellis, who finished with a team-high 27 points and 13 rebounds (side note: Ellis scored 27 on 28 shots and Hield scored 46 on 23 shots. Incredible.) absolutely took over the game and kept Kansas in it. And then, when neither of those guys could find a way to get something going, ever-improving sophomore Devonte' Graham did. Graham finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds and made 6 of 7 free throws. In short, it took all three Jayhawks to help Kansas survive a magical night from Hield. And all three delivered.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) is fouled by Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) on a three during third overtime, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) is fouled by Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) on a three during third overtime, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – Both teams shot better than 48 percent from three-point range, with Kansas knocking down 11 of 22 three-point tries (50 percent) and OU making 16 of 33 (48.5 percent). Hield himself made 8 of 15 and the Jayahwks had four players make at least two triples, but the lost hero in this one had to be Oklahoma's Jordan Woodard, who matched Ellis with 27 points and made 6 of 9 from downtown. With so much attention paid to Hield — rightly so — the Jayhawks allowed Woodard to get loose a few too many times and the guard almost made them pay. The deep balls were not the only shots that impressed. Guys finished at the rim, hit mid-range jumpers and little floaters and this was about as well played of an offensive basketball game as I can remember. Guess that's why both teams cracked the 100-point mark.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Because it's over. If not for deadline and the rules likely fouling everyone out, I would've sat and watched that game for another two hours. Easily. And I don't think I'm alone. Every once in a while you watch those games that you just don't want to end and this was certainly one of them. It's funny because every game ever played in Allen Fieldhouse is guaranteed two 20-minute halves. There've been a handful of overtimes, but, for the most part, the games are 40 minutes. Some nights, when the game's a dud and neither team is playing that well or the opponent is just that overmatched, the clock just crawls by and it seems like we'll never get out of there. And then there are nights like last night, when a game that you wish would last forever just flies by. Think about that: 55 minutes of basketball seemed like it went by in a flash.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31), forward Cheick Diallo (13) and forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) react to an and-one bucket by guard Devonte' Graham (4) to tie the game during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31), forward Cheick Diallo (13) and forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) react to an and-one bucket by guard Devonte' Graham (4) to tie the game during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – I don't do this very often, if at all, but I thought the officiating was pretty awful, both ways in this one. It obviously didn't negatively impact the game and, in spite of the bad calls and look-at-me-moments from the officials, this one still will go down as an all-time classic in a building where that tag doesn't get tossed around every year, but the officials were far too inconsistent for my taste and made and missed bad calls both ways. In a way, I guess that means everything evened out. But I'd give the players and coaches the credit for that and tell the refs, better luck next time.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) hits the second of two free throws with 8.6 seconds remaining in the third overtime, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) hits the second of two free throws with 8.6 seconds remaining in the third overtime, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – For this last reason to sigh (of relief), I'd like to give a special shout out to OU's Khadeem Lattin for missing the front end of a one-and-one at the end of regulation with 2 seconds left that, in all likelihood, would have ended the game. It still would've been a fantastic game. And we'd still be buzzing about it a little bit. But had Lattin made just one of those free throws given to him after Landen Lucas went over his back on a rebound attempt on the other end, there would've been no overtimes. There would've been no 46-point night from Buddy Hield or heroics from Selden, Ellis, Graham or Frank Mason. That was not Lattin's only contribution of the night. The long forward finished with a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds and gave KU problems at the rim. But his biggest contribution was easily that missed free throw that gave us the joy of watching three OTs and one of the best games Allen Fieldhouse has ever seen.

One for the road

KU's epic, three-overtime thriller over No. 2 Oklahoma...

• Made Kansas 13-1 and extended the Jayhawks' win streak to 12 games, the longest since the 2012-13 squad won 18 straight. 


• Bumped KU's winning streak inside Allen Fieldhouse to 32 games, including an 8-0 mark this season. Kansas is 198-9 in The Phog under Bill Self and 736-109 all-time in the venue. 


• Made Kansas 16-9, 6-2 under Bill Self, as the No. 1-ranked team in the Associated Press Poll. 


• Moved Self to 365-79 while at KU and 572-184 all-time.

• 
Improved the Jayhawks to 2,166-832 all-time.

Kansas head coach Bill Self comes in to slap hands and hug Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) following the Jayhawks' 109-106 triple overtime win over the Sooners.

Kansas head coach Bill Self comes in to slap hands and hug Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) following the Jayhawks' 109-106 triple overtime win over the Sooners. by Nick Krug

Next up

The Jayhawks (13-1 overall, 2-0 Big 12) will get a much needed week to recover before hitting the floor again. They'll play Saturday night at 8 p.m. at Texas Tech on ESPNU.


More news and notes from No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Oklahoma




By the Numbers: Kansas 109, Oklahoma 106 (3OT)

By the Numbers: Kansas 109, Oklahoma 106 (3OT)

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Looking back at some recent KU-OU classics

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

So, yeah. Tonight's game between top-ranked Kansas and No. 2 Oklahoma is a pretty big game.

Like, one of the biggest Allen Fieldhouse games in a number of years. Yeah, the Missouri win was huge and, sure, there have been a few others along the way. But very few have been this big on the national stage.

No. 1 vs. No. 2. One-loss Kansas vs. unbeaten Oklahoma. KU's balance vs. OU's Buddy Hield.

Regardless of the outcome or how it all goes down, this one figures to soon be included in the chapter of classic showdowns between the two former Big Eight foes who have waged war against one another for nearly 100 years. KU won the opening game between the two schools, 33-28, back in 1920.

The Jayhawks lead the all-time series with the Sooners 142-66, including an a mark of 72-16 in games played in Lawrence and 45-7 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Here's a quick look back at seven of the most recent memorable KU-OU meetings:

1988 — National Title game — Kansas 83, OU 79: I won't insult you all by rehashing the details of a game I'm sure you're very familiar with. Tied at 50 at halftime, KU, led by Danny Manning, knocks off Billy Tubbs and the Sooners, who easily beat KU twice during the regular season. It still stands as one of the most surprising upsets in NCAA Tournament history and is one of the most cherished games in KU basketball history.

1998 — Senior Night at Allen Fieldhouse — In late February of the 1997-98 season, junior Paul Pierce single-handedly took over the spotlight in what wound up being his final home game as a Jayhawk, as well. Pierce caught fire in the second half and turned a close battle into a KU run-away. Pierce's performance included 31 points and a second-half stretch of 15 straight points that put the game away.

2006 — February 5, 2006 — Despite getting dominated — Bill Self's words, not mine — for the game's first 32 minutes, the Jayhawks dug deep and pulled out a one-point victory over No. 18 OU. Led by 14 points and 8 rebounds from Julian Wright, 12 points from Brandon Rush and 10 points from Mario Chalmers, the Jayhawks fought their way to a 59-58 way despite not taking their first lead of the second half until a bucket by Wright with 53 seconds remaining.

2009 — February 24, 2009 — In one of the most anticipated battles of the season, the Jayhawks and Sooners were robbed of a potentially epic showdown when OU star Blake Griffin missed the game because of injury. Even without the future NBA All-Star out of the lineup because of a concussion, OU built an early 22-8 lead. But Kansas responded with a monster run and eventually turned the 14-point deficit into a 20-point lead before winning 87-78 on Big Monday in Norman. Griffin also missed his match-up with Kansas a year earlier, going down with a spained MCL in the opening minutes of KU's 85-55 blowout during the Jayhawks' national title year.

2014 — February 24, 2014 — There were not many individual moments in this one that stood out, but the final result, an 83-75 KU victory, gave the Jayhawks a guaranteed share of Big 12 title number 10 in a row. Naadir Tharpe led KU's effort with 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting and, according to KU coach Bill Self, “closed the game the way point guards are supposed to close.”

2015 — January 19, 2015 — Despite building a 19-point halftime lead behind the strength of a school-record nine three-pointers, the Jayhawks saw that lead completely disappear in the second half and had to come from behind to top OU, 85-78, on Big Monday. KU got surprisingly big games from freshmen Cliff Alexander (13 points, 13 boards) and Kelly Oubre (19 points, 9 boards) to help hold off the upset bid.

2015 — March 7, 2015 — With a share of Big 12 title No. 11 in a row already wrapped up, KU went down to Norman, Oklahoma, with nothing to lose and everything to gain. The Jayhawks, missing three regulars from their rotation, played very well at times and appeared to send the game to overtime on three made free throws by Frank Mason in the final five seconds. But a tip-in by OU's Buddy Hield with two-tenths of a second remaining gave OU the victory.

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The Day After: Mauling the Bears

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) pumps his fist in celebration with the Jayhawks' bench after a late three by teammate Lagerald Vick during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) pumps his fist in celebration with the Jayhawks' bench after a late three by teammate Lagerald Vick during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

They talk all year — literally, 365 days a year — about what winning the Big 12 title means to this Kansas University men's basketball team.

On Saturday afternoon against 23rd-ranked Baylor, the Jayhawks showed they mean it. In what was by far the most intense, focused and locked in I've seen this team all season, the Jayhawks (12-1) overwhelmed the Bears (10-3) with a monster start that put the game away before it ever really got going.

KU was fantastic on offense, draining outside shots and getting out in transition to score with ease. But the intensity showed up on defense. There were no sly grins, no wandering eyes, nothing but intense focus on the man three inches in front of them.

That, along with the fact that KU's offense remained hot, kept Baylor from having any hope of getting back into it after digging a 24-4 hole during the game's first six minutes.

Quick takeaway

As if there were any doubt about which team was the team to beat for the 2015-16 Big 12 title, the Jayhawks got their quest for a 12th consecutive conference championship off to a fantastic start, spanking a ranked team at home, where it's going to be awfully difficult for anybody to come in and have success. That gives KU a huge advantage on the field every year and that advantage could grow big time if KU is able to knock off likely No. 2 ranked Oklahoma at home on Monday night. KU has won this thing in a number of different ways over the years, but any time the Jayhawks have gotten out to an early and significant lead it has been awfully tough for anyone to catch them. That's what makes Monday night's game so big, if No. 1 vs. No. 2 wasn't already big enough.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Hunter Mickelson will never be confused for Wilt Chamberlain, but he could be KU's most important big man the rest of the way. It's not that he puts up big time numbers or blocks a ton of shots. Heck, he doesn't even play big time minutes. But the more he plays like he did on Saturday, the more his minutes will increase. And the more his minutes increase, the more the Jayhawks will benefit from his ability to alter shots even if he's not blocking them. Perhaps the best part of his performance on Saturday — 7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks in 17 minutes — was that it came against Baylor, which is full of long, athletic bigs who can create match-up problems for a lot of teams. Mickelson held his own when he was out there and he shouldn't see too many tougher match-ups, in terms of athleticism, the rest of the way.

Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) gets a hand on a shot by Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) gets a hand on a shot by Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – Perry Ellis, once again, was among the Jayhawks' leading scorers (17) and rebounders (6) in this one, but it was his aggressive play that stood out the most. Early in the game, Ellis crashed the boards hard, collected a missed shot and laid it back in all in one motion. Later, he showed a desire to hammer home a dunk instead of shooting a floater while getting fouled. He didn't flush it, but that mindset is exactly what the Jayhawks need and want to see from Ellis.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) hangs to dish off a pass to orward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) hangs to dish off a pass to orward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – He made just 2 of 6 shots, 1 of 2 from three-point range, but junior Brannen Greene showed another glimpse of his willingness and ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. No longer is Greene just a spot-up shooter and that fact is putting a lot of pressure on opposing defenses and giving KU another big time advantage on offense.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Foul trouble and silly fouls was a little bit of a concern. Because the game was out of reach, the fouls really never threatened to hurt the Jayhawks. But Frank Mason sat early in the second half after picking up No. 3 and KU's 23 fouls led to 31 trips to the free throw line for the Bears, who made 25 of those attempts. The free throws helped keep Baylor somewhat close and kept KU from slamming the door much earlier.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) defends against a pass from Baylor guard Lester Medford (11) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. In back is Baylor forward Taurean Prince (21).

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) defends against a pass from Baylor guard Lester Medford (11) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. In back is Baylor forward Taurean Prince (21). by Nick Krug

2 – The Jayhawks gave up 32 points in the paint, which included far too many drives to the bucket for layups. This has plagued the KU defense a little bit during the past three or four seasons and certainly is not what you expect from a Bill Self team. KU made a few adjustments and the guards — Mason, Graham and Selden — were pretty good here. But the overall team defense could continue to get tested on drives to the rim, starting Monday night when OU and its dynamic backcourt led by Buddy Hield comes to Lawrence.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) puts up a shot over Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (5) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) puts up a shot over Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (5) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – Cheick Diallo continued to show he's not progressing. The freshman forward's potential is unquestioned. But he's not making the kinds of strides necessary to merit more minutes. What's worse, he's not making many good decisions and positive plays with the minutes he is getting. Sure, he had the big block and a couple of flashy plays against Baylor, but those did not make up for the three herky-jerky and contested jumpers (one of which he made) or the half a dozen times teammates or coaches had to tell him where to be on offense or defense. There's still time for him to make an impact, but if he's going to, it's going to have to start in practice because there just aren't minutes for a guy who makes that many mistakes at this point in the season.

One for the road

KU's 25th consecutive victory in a conference opener...

• Made Kansas 12-1 on the year and a perfect 8-0 inside Allen Fieldhouse this season.

• 
Gave Kansas its 11th-straight win, the longest streak at KU since the 2012-13 season, when the Jayhawks won 18 in a row.

• 
Improved Bill Self's record to 364-79 while at Kansas and 571-184 all-time. Also moved Self to 197-9 in Allen Fieldhouse.


• Made KU 2,165-832 all-time and 735-109 all-time in the venue.

Next up

The Jayhawks, most likely ranked No. 1 in the nation, will return to Allen Fieldhouse for a showdown with likely No. 2 team, Oklahoma, at 8 p.m. on the first of four Big Monday games on ESPN.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Baylor



By the Numbers: Kansas 102, Baylor 74

By the Numbers: Kansas 102, Baylor 74

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KU’s Wayne Selden attempts to conquer Mamadou Ndiaye and lives to tell about it

In this shot from Nick Krug from underneath the basket, you can see the aftermath of Wayne Selden's challenge of 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye during the first half of Tuesday night's 78-53 KU victory over UC-Irvine.

In this shot from Nick Krug from underneath the basket, you can see the aftermath of Wayne Selden's challenge of 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye during the first half of Tuesday night's 78-53 KU victory over UC-Irvine. by Matt Tait

It was a subtle play that, to my knowledge, did not show up on any of the highlights, but it also was one that told you a lot about one of second-ranked Kansas' most important players.

Less than two minutes into Tuesday's 78-53 victory over a good Cal-Irvine team, KU junior Wayne Selden found himself with the ball on the right wing and nothing between him and the hoop but 7-foot-6 mountain of a man, Mamadou Ndiaye, the starting center for UC-Irvine.

Although the Jayhawks, as a whole, lacked aggression and looked out of sorts offensively in the first half, on this particular play, they did not. Check that; Selden did not.

Instead of backing it out, waiting for reinforcements and moving the ball around to get a better and easier shot, Selden, while dribbling, took a quick glance up ahead at Ndiaye, shortened his steps to announce he was actually going to go for it and then exploded with all he had right into the body of Ndiaye, who sat back and waited for Selden to attack while protecting the rim.

I had a great angle of the play and, at the time, I actually thought Selden was going to try to dunk OVER Ndiaye. That would've been a huge mistake and could've ended in injury. It also is exactly the play Selden might have tried to make a year or two ago. But this time around, he made the smart play. There was no machismo involved in the decision. It was not a look-at-me moment. Instead, it was the right play and it was Selden's attempt at setting the tone for his team and drawing a foul on one of Irvine's most important players.

As Selden flew through the air and closed in on contact with Ndiaye, he briefly closed his eyes, perhaps bracing for the contact that was sure to come. It did, at least a little bit, but neither Selden nor Ndiaye created the kind of force that could have led to a violent collision.

Instead, Selden merely bounced off of Ndiaye's chest, maintained his path to the basket and finished the lay-up to give KU a 4-0 lead.

Let's be honest, the photo below could easily have been the result of Selden's decision, so he deserves credit for showing the bravery to attack.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) is sent to the floor after a block by UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye (34) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) is sent to the floor after a block by UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye (34) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks did not really follow Selden's lead in attacking the big man, especially in the first half. But for a guy who has struggled to finish at the rim in the past, it was a heck of a play and one that showed just how far he has come.

We all saw his huge summer in Korea and the steps forward that he has taken in the past month or so, but this, at least to me, was as big of a sign of any that Selden is full of confidence and playing for the right reason — to help his team win.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) and forward Hunter Mickelson (42) knock the ball loose from the grip of UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye (34) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) and forward Hunter Mickelson (42) knock the ball loose from the grip of UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye (34) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

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The Day After: Climbing Anteater Mountain

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) and UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye (34) work for position during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) and UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye (34) work for position during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye and the rest of the UC-Irvine big men came to Lawrence hoping to put a scare into the second-ranked Jayhawks.

And, for a half, they did just that. But KU's superior talent and overall depth won out and the Jayhawks emerged with a 78-53 victory that pushed their record to 11-1 and paved the way for a possible jump to No. 1 in the nation thanks to Michigan State's Tuesday night loss to Iowa.

The Jayhawks may have played 14 guys in this one, but that was mostly a result of the final score and KU having the game well in hand in the final 10 minutes.

Just six guys — Frank Mason, Devonte' Graham, Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis, Brannen Greene and Landen Lucas — played 15 minutes or more and it's clear that Self, though still searching for the move that makes the KU big man rotation click, has found the lineup he likes.

That should come as no surprise as late December typically has been the time when Self has pared down the rotation to give more minutes to the guys playing at the highest level.

A couple of key reserves certainly have carved out nice roles for themselves in that department and now, with the Big 12 opener coming Saturday, you can expect to see a lot of what you saw Tuesday night the rest of the way in terms of how the minutes are divided up.

Quick takeaway

KU's final tune-up before a nasty start to conference play could not have gone much better from the tune-up standpoint. The Jayhawks were not on top of their game in this one yet found a way to make adjustments and grind out a good win against a good team. KU coach Bill Self said after the victory that he'd be surprised if UC-Irvine didn't win its league and the Anteaters' size, experience and nothing-to-lose mentality gave Kansas a perfect final test heading into the meat of its schedule.

Three reasons to smile

1 – KU's game plan against Irvine's 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye was fantastic. Ndiaye is not the kind of guy who's going to go off like Wayne Selden is capable of, but, with that size and that touch from the free throw line, he's definitely a guy who could dominate the offensive end with relative ease. That's if you let him get comfortable. And KU never did. The bigs leaned and pounded on him all night and the guards helped down from the perimeter just about every time he touched it. Even if they didn't come up with a steal, just that extra presence caused enough havoc and forced Ndiaye to either turn it over or kick it out.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) and forward Hunter Mickelson (42) knock the ball loose from the grip of UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye (34) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) and forward Hunter Mickelson (42) knock the ball loose from the grip of UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye (34) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – After a pretty ho-hum first half, the Jayhawks really turned it up in the second half. There wasn't a soul in the Fieldhouse who did not expect to see that given the way KU slept-walked through the first half, but even knowing that Bill Self would light a fire under his guys at halftime, I was not so sure the Jayhawks could get it together in time to look as good as they did. UC-Irvine really had KU out of sorts on offense in that first half, but a couple of nice adjustments and increased energy and effort on defense helped KU roll to a 50-27 second-half advantage and a 25-point win. It wasn't just one or two guys, either. Every KU player on the floor defended with a sense of urgency and purpose during the final 20 minutes, getting chest to chest with the Irvine players and making them sweat for every pass, dribble and shot.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) gets to the bucket past UC Irvine guard Aaron Wright (32) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) gets to the bucket past UC Irvine guard Aaron Wright (32) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – Believe it or not, Brannen Greene was one of the few Jayhawks who showed great effort in the first half. He only scored once in that first 20 minutes, but you could tell he was engaged and did not fall victim to the lack of focus and intensity that usually plagues him but seemed to get his teammates in the first half. It's just another example of the new Brannen Greene, a guy who maybe has finally “got it.” He plays hard every time on the floor now and does so without losing the flare and cockiness that he's known for. Who knows if or how long it will last, but give the young man credit for responding to a bad situation with a great stretch.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – We know why Cheick Diallo has struggled to both produce and gain playing time, but now Carlton Bragg is in danger of falling into the same trap. Playing basketball in the Big 12 for Bill Self is not easy and I don't care how talented you are as a freshman, you're going to take your lumps and have growing pains. Both guys are dealing with that right now and even though Self urged KU fans to not give up on the two crazy-talented freshmen, it's hard to envision them getting a ton of minutes the rest of the way unless they take drastic steps in all areas of the game.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets an earful from head coach Bill Self after a quick foul during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets an earful from head coach Bill Self after a quick foul during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – Svi is headed in the wrong direction. Maybe it's just because Mason, Graham, Selden and Greene have been so good lately, but after a promising start to the 2015-16 season, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk has taken a step back toward irrelevance. He played just 10 minutes on Tuesday night — finishing 0-for-1 from the floor with 1 rebound and 3 fouls — and has not even logged 40 minutes in the past four games combined. The return of Greene, along with his increased effort and strong shooting, has knocked Svi back a bit in the rotation, but his recent slump can't be blamed entirely on opportunity. Svi checked into Tuesday's game at the same time Greene did. He just didn't do as much with his minutes and is starting to look a lot more like the Svi from 2014-15, who blended in and disappeared at times rather than the Svi we saw in Maui who asserted himself and looked to be gaining confidence.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and forward Jamari Traylor (31) try to trap UC Irvine forward Mike Best (33) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and forward Jamari Traylor (31) try to trap UC Irvine forward Mike Best (33) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – There was a brief moment when Wayne Selden lost his cool. Midway through the first half after getting hip-checked and knocked to the floor, Selden, turned around, scoured at the referee and yelled, “What the (bleep).” Less than five seconds later, Selden was whistled for a foul after he retaliated by shoving the UC-Irvine player while setting a screen. Now, those types of shoves happen every game and nearly on every possession, but it's not a good idea to execute one right after drawing that kind of attention to yourself. The momentary gaffe was about the only lowlight from an otherwise terrific game by Selden.

One for the road

The Jayhawks' 25-point pounding of UC-Irvine....

• Gave KU its 10th consecutive win, which is the longest winning streak since the 2012-13 season, when KU won 18 in a row.


• Gave KU its 10 consecutive wins for the 13th time in the Bill Self era.


• Gave KU its 30th consecutive win in Allen Fieldhouse, including a 6-0 record this season.
 Kansas is 196-9 in Allen Fieldhouse during the Bill Self era, including a 97-5 record against non-conference opponents. 734-109 all-time in the venue.


• Improved Bill Self's record to 363-79 (.821) while at Kansas and 570-184 (.756) all-time.


• Made KU 2,164-832 (.722) all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks will be back in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday to kick off Big 12 Conference play against No. 23 Baylor at 3 p.m. After that, the Jayhawks have a quick turnaround for a Big Monday game against No. 3 Oklahoma.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. UC Irvine


— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage

By the Numbers: Kansas 78, UC Irvine 53

By the Numbers: Kansas 78, UC Irvine 53

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Big 12 about to enter a big couple of weeks

Call it a complex, a curiosity or a downright fear.

Whatever you choose, there's something about the word “realignment” that grabs my attention like few things on this planet, so much so that I get a little frightened when it's time to take my car in to balance and rotate the tires.

A little more than four years ago, the word “realignment” rocked the world of college athletics, as schools jumped from conference to conference like a game of musical chairs, sometimes freely and sometimes amid pages and pages and days and days of legal attention.

After a couple of wild summers, things calmed down considerably during the next few years. And even though talk of a changing landscape down the road has continued to be a part of the regular conversation when it comes to college athletics and the current make up of the conferences we know and (used to) love, things have been pretty stable overall, especially compared to the chaos that brought all of this into play in the first place.

At the center of that has been the status of the Big 12. While the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12 and even the ACC entered into an arms race and tried to stockpile schools the way people preparing for a disaster stockpile food and water, the Big 12 held its ground, determined to prove that after adding TCU and West Virginia to replace Missouri and Texas A&M — the two former Big 12 schools that followed Colorado and Nebraska out the door — it was fine with 10 schools and didn't need to grow larger to be relevant.

But then last year happened, both Baylor and TCU were left out of the first college football playoff and the idea of expansion, stability and change for the future came roaring back to the forefront for the conference that has seemed to be in a constant of self-evaluation and survival for the past handful of years.

A huge question surrounding the idea of expansion — and probably the biggest reason the Big 12 has yet to do it — centers on the concept that there are really no attractive options that make sharing the revenue pie with two more teams worth it.

In a terrific state-of-the-conference type story, Pete Thamel of SI.com recently talked with a dozen Big 12 sources and examined all of the issues facing the conference, from expansion and which teams might be most attractive to the petitioning of the NCAA for a title game with just 10 teams in football — that vote is January 15, by the way — and the overall vibe of the conference's future in the changing world of college athletics.

It's as good of an analysis of the state of the Big 12 as I've seen in a long time and 100 percent worth the read for anyone with even the slightest interest in realignment, Big 12 expansion and the conference's chances for survival.

For those of you who don't have time to read the story or just aren't big on clicking on links, here's a little spoiler: According to Thamel, if the Big 12 were to expand, BYU and Cincinnati seem to have emerged as the top two options.

But the article also lists six other schools Thamel has heard mentioned in expansion talk, including Houston, which, for my money, would be a fantastic addition because of the market and incredible potential the evolving school delivers.

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The Day After: A big win in sunny San Diego

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) floats in for a bucket over San Diego State forward Zylan Cheatham (14) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) floats in for a bucket over San Diego State forward Zylan Cheatham (14) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. by Nick Krug

The Kansas University men's basketball team's 70-57 victory over San Diego State on Tuesday night capped the pre-Christmas portion of the Jayhawks' schedule and put Kansas on the brink of closing out non-conference play.

Kansas will face UC-Irvine at home on Dec. 29 and then jump into Big 12 play from that point on.

Perry Ellis was incredibly efficient offensively for the second game in a row, Jamari Traylor (6 points and 6 boards (4 offensive) in 21 minutes) came back from the dead and the Jayhawks shot it well from the outside and the free throw line once again.

Given the potential trap game talk because of the upcoming holiday break, this was a pretty solid effort against a good team in a true road environment.

Second-ranked Kansas now sits at 10-1 and, in all reality, should be 11-0 and ranked No. 1. Not a bad non-con stretch.

Quick takeaway

If nothing else, this victory was a big confidence boost for these Jayhawks. Don't get me wrong, this was not a team lacking confidence in any way, but there's always something different — not to mention extremely validating — about going on the road into a hostile environment and coming out with a victory. With Big 12 play right around the corner, that kind of confidence and proof that they can get the job done is just what the Jayhawks needed right now. And, remember, KU has built that incredible streak of 11 straight Big 12 titles largely because it has been able to win conference road games and others have not.

Three reasons to smile

1 – You can say what you want about this team's depth and talent and, while those things are huge advantages for Kansas, Bill Self is still only going to play the guys he trusts in big moments. And, based on his 26 minutes despite shooting just 1-of-4 for the night, it's clear that Self trusts Brannen Greene, the basketball player. Greene, who uncharacteristically contributed to the stat sheet in other ways than shooting on Tuesday was one of just six Jayhawks to play double-digit minutes. Jamari Traylor (21) was another. There are players on this team with more upside and more complete games than both of those guys, but Greene and Traylor have been around Self as long as anyone and, clearly, that means something at this stage of the season.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) celebrates after a dunk during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. At right is San Diego State forward Malik Pope (21).

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) celebrates after a dunk during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. At right is San Diego State forward Malik Pope (21). by Nick Krug

2 – The Jayhawks recorded seven blocks in this game and I think that's something that has been a little underrated about this team. It's obvious that this group does not have a Cole Aldrich or Joel Embiid, but it doesn't necessarily need one. The 7 blocks KU picked up on Tuesday night came from five different players, with Perry Ellis and Hunter Mickelson each blocking two and Jamari Traylor, Brannen Greene and Carlton Bragg picking up one apiece. Just about anyone KU puts on the floor has the athleticism, size and ability to alter and/or block shots, even junior point guard Frank Mason, who, though short in stature, has incredible hops. Mason already has a pair of blocks this season. Even though the leaders in this category come from the places you'd most expect — Mickelson leads with 15, Traylor has 8 and Diallo, in just six games and limited minutes, has 7 — just about everyone in the lineup can contribute a blocked shot because of his length or athleticism. That's a big reason this KU defense is limiting opponents to 39 percent shooting and why SDSU shot just 37 percent on Tuesday night.

San Diego State guard Jeremy Hemsley (42) puts a shot over Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego.

San Diego State guard Jeremy Hemsley (42) puts a shot over Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. by Nick Krug

3 – The Jayhawks again shot the ball well from three-point land — 8 of 19 for 42.1 percent — and remain above 46 percent from downtown for the season. So much has been made about this team having some of the best shooters a KU squad has had in a while, but it's definitely the flow of the offense, the ball movement and the fact that those shooters are often getting wide open looks that is keeping that percentage so high so far.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – With Landen Lucas, Jamari Traylor, Hunter Mickelson and Cheick Diallo combining to play just 40 minutes, the Jayhawks were out-rebounded by the Aztecs, 35-33. Because of the lineups Self used, that's no reason to sound the alarms. But giving up 15 offensive boards might be.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and San Diego State guard Dakarai Allen (4) battle for a loose ball during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and San Diego State guard Dakarai Allen (4) battle for a loose ball during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. by Nick Krug

2 – The Jayhawks forced 15 turnovers, including nine steals, but scored just 15 points off of those SDSU miscues. It didn't hurt them in this one, but capitalizing on opponents' mistakes is something the Jayhawks are going to have to fine-tune if they want to make it 12 in a row in Big 12 play.

Kansas head coach Bill Self turns in frustration during a run by the Aztecs in the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego.

Kansas head coach Bill Self turns in frustration during a run by the Aztecs in the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. by Nick Krug

3 – After building a 12-point halftime lead, KU had a couple of opportunities to go for the knock-out blow in the second half and missed each time. Kansas eventually pulled away and San Diego State never led — in fact, the game was only even tied for 1:42 — but I'm sure Self and company would've much preferred the kill shot to come much earlier in the second half, particularly in a game played on the road in front of a rocking crowd.

One for the road

KU's road win at San Diego State...

• Gives KU nine consecutive wins, which is the longest winning streak since the 2013-14 season, when KU won 18 in a row.

• Gives KU its first true road win of the season (1-0) and a 5-1 record in games away from Allen Fieldhouse this season.

• Ties the series with San Diego State at 2-2. Kansas is 26-8 all-time against current Mountain West Conference teams.

• Improves Bill Self's record to 362-79 (.821) while at Kansas and 569-184 (.756) all-time.

• Gives KU an 83-38 (.686) road record under Self.

• Makes KU 2,163-832 (.722) all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks return to Allen Fieldhouse next Tuesday at 8 p.m. for a match-up with UC-Irvine that will close out non-conference play. After that, Kansas will play host to both Oklahoma and Baylor in the first week of January, kicking off the Big 12 portion of its schedule in style.

By the Numbers: Kansas 70, San Diego State 57

By the Numbers: Kansas 70, San Diego State 57

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Former Jayhawks Harris, Talib picked for second straight Pro Bowl

A pair of former Kansas University cornerbacks became the first NFL teammates to be selected for back-to-back Pro Bowls in 25 years.

Denver Broncos Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, who helped the Broncos field one of the league's top ranked defenses this season, earned the Pro Bowl nod for the second year in a row, the league announced Tuesday night.

Harris, the un-drafted free agent who has gone on to become one of the most productive and stingy cornerbacks in all of football, has started all 14 games for the Broncos this year and has totaled 52 tackles (43 solo), two interceptions (94 yards), four passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

He becomes one of just five un-drafted cornerbacks in NFL history to make multiple Pro Bowls with his original team.

Like Harris, Talib, now in his second year with Denver, also has started all 14 games for Denver and has totaled a team-best three interceptions (123 yards, 2 TDs) and 13 passes defensed to go along with 38 tackles (33 solo).

Talib was picked to the Pro Bowl for a third consecutive season, as he also earned the honor in 2013 as a member of the New England Patriots. During his three-year run as a perennial Pro Bowler, Talib is tied for fourth at his position with 11 interceptions, including four returned for touchdowns.

After having a league-best nine players selected to last year's team, Denver (10-4) had just four this season — pass rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware also earned the nod — and the once powerful Broncos' offense was shut out of the all-star showcase.

After another hot start, Denver has dropped two games in a row and seen its lead in the AFC West shrink to one game over the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs with two games to play.

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) and Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) celebrate after an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Denver. The Broncos won 29-10 to improve to 7-0. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) and Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) celebrate after an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Denver. The Broncos won 29-10 to improve to 7-0. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

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The Day After: Clawing the Grizzlies

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) and the Jayhawk bench react to a bucket by forward Landen Lucas during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) and the Jayhawk bench react to a bucket by forward Landen Lucas during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Kansas University men's basketball team had no trouble rolling past an overmatched Montana team on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks (9-1) were bigger, stronger, faster, more skilled and more organized and all of that — and more — showed in KU's 88-46 victory over the Grizzlies.

Offensively, Saturday's effort was one of the more balanced outings by this year's squad. KU got production from a number of places and, once again, was able to spread out the minutes and allow some of the younger guys to get extended action.

The more they can do that the more that will pay off when conference play rolls around in just a couple of weeks.

Quick takeaway

There's really not a whole lot you can learn from this game that you didn't already know. KU was simply way too talented for Montana and the Grizzlies, though willing to battle, simply had no answer for a much better Kansas team and did not put up much of a fight. There were individual moments and individual efforts that stood out, but, overall, the Jayhawks used Saturday's win as little more than a scrimmage against someone other than themselves.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Perry Ellis showed everyone that he is listening and he's just fine. As aggressive as he's looked in weeks, Ellis didn't always score, but he did always go hard to the rim and that led to a game-high 18 points and 10 trips to the free throw line. That's the Ellis that this team is going to need in conference play and his night was made all the more impressive by the fact that he led all scorers after taking just seven shots. Ellis is not a volume guy. But he does need to be involved as often as possible when KU gets in the half-court.

Kansas players Perry Ellis, left, Evan Manning and Tyler Self have a laugh late in the game.

Kansas players Perry Ellis, left, Evan Manning and Tyler Self have a laugh late in the game. by Nick Krug

2 – KU has not shot that well at the free throw line for much of the season, but that was not the case on Saturday. The Jayhawks, led by Perry Ellis' 10-of-10 showing, were 15-of-19 from the free throw line for 79 percent, 11 percentage points better than their season average. With conference play right around the corner, free throws are going to become a much bigger part of the game and it's good to see KU trending in the right direction here.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) fights for a loose ball with Montana guard Michael Oguine, left, and center Bryden Boehning (35) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) fights for a loose ball with Montana guard Michael Oguine, left, and center Bryden Boehning (35) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – Give Devonte' Graham credit for not making any excuses about his oversleeping issue. Self made sure to point that out — saying that Graham did not blame it on his alarm clock not going off — and then went out and played hard and did the things we've become accustomed to seeing from him. He finished 4-of-7 from the floor with 9 points, 2 rebounds and an assist. It wasn't his best game by any means, but he did not look like a guy who was sulking over the 7-minute suspension.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – The big man rotation continues. None of KU's five other big guys have emerged as the obvious answer to team with Perry Ellis inside for this team. Self talked about the quandry after the game and said it was nice to have a bunch of good players that he could choose from there, but added that he'd much rather have one Joel Embiid, whom he could play 40 minutes a night and not have to worry about it. KU doesn't have that. And unless someone really takes a significant step forward very soon, this rotation of able bodies is going to be something Self deals with all season. The good news? The bodies are there. The bad news, it will be hard for KU to develop much chemistry and know who it can count on.

Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) grabs a pass inside as he is guarded by Montana forward Jack Lopez (31) during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) grabs a pass inside as he is guarded by Montana forward Jack Lopez (31) during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – Cheick Diallo just can't get going. And he looks 100 percent inside his own head about it. It's not that he's not trying. He is. He's just still behind and it looks as if he's still pressing too hard when he's out there. He fouled out of Saturday's game and scored four points, grabbed three boards, turned it over twice and blocked one shot. You can just tell by the look on his face most of the time that he believes he can and should be doing better and more. It'll come. But only if he relaxes, continues to work hard and lets the game come to him.

Kansas University sophomores Kelley Sharp, left, and her twin sister Amanda Sharp, Olathe, and Taylor Horvat, Olathe junior, put on their game faces for an ugly Christmas sweater group photo by Jordan Bosch, Clay Center, Kan. junior, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University sophomores Kelley Sharp, left, and her twin sister Amanda Sharp, Olathe, and Taylor Horvat, Olathe junior, put on their game faces for an ugly Christmas sweater group photo by Jordan Bosch, Clay Center, Kan. junior, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – Congrats to KU, I guess, for setting the ugly sweater record, but I just don't get it. I don't know who's running things over there at Guinness, but is this really a record that we need to have or one that anyone needs to know about? Oh well. I guess it gave people a reason to have some holiday fun, so no harm no foul. And, I only included it here because KU played pretty darn well and I couldn't find a third reason to sigh.

One for the road

KU's win over overmatched Montana...

• Gave KU eight-straight wins, which tied the longest winning streak from 2014-15

• Made the series with Montana 2-0 in favor of the Jayhawks

• Made Kansas 98-4 against non-conference opponents in Allen Fieldhouse during the Bill Self era

• Gave KU its 29th-straight win in Allen Fieldhouse, which is the seventh-longest streak in school history

• Made KU 733-109 all-time in Allen Fieldhouse, including 195-9 under Self

• Improved Self 361-79 while at Kansas and 568-184 all-time

• Made KU 2,162-832 all-time

Next up

The Jayhawks will head to the west coast for their final game before Christmas, Tuesday night at 10 p.m. at San Diego State. The game will be shown on CBS and will be KU's second-to-last game of 2015. The Jayhawks return to Allen Fieldhouse for a Dec. 29 game against UC-Irvine and then will open Big 12 play on Jan. 2 at home against Baylor.

By the Numbers: Kansas 88, Montana 46

By the Numbers: Kansas 88, Montana 46

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VIDEO: Gameday in Omaha - Let the wait begin

Here's a quick, on the road version of KU Sports Extra from the NCAA Final Four in Omaha, where Kansas will take on No. 4 seed Nebraska tonight at 8:30.

We'll have more blogs and videos throughout the day right here at KUsports.com so be sure to check out all of our coverage while you wait for tonight's match, which will be shown live on ESPN2 and live blogged right here on our site.

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VIDEO: Sights & sounds from the KU Volleyball Experience in Omaha

Here's a quick look at the venue and some practice scenes at the NCAA Final Four in Omaha, where No. 9 overall seed Kansas (30-2) will take on No. 4 seed Nebraska (30-4) tonight at 8:30 in the second national semifinal.

We'll have more blogs and videos throughout the day right here at KUsports.com so be sure to check out all of our coverage while you wait for tonight's match, which will be shown live on ESPN2 and live blogged right here on our site.

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