Sweet Deal: Kansas Comeback Caps Valentine’s Day Win, 74-64
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas native Perry Ellis never missed a shot in the second half en route to etching his name amongst the 1,000-point scorers at Kansas. His 18-point effort was as crucial as it was historical in powering No. 8/9 Kansas to a 74-64 comeback victory against No. 16/16 Baylor Saturday afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Baylor (18-7, 6-6) led for nearly 30 minutes inside of a building in which the Bears have never won, but Kansas (21-4, 10-2) played the role of heartbreaker on Valentine’s Day. The Jayhawks fell into a 23-10 deficit in the opening minutes and trailed the entire first half before piling on 47 second-half points in a convincing comeback.
The pressure associated with being atop the conference standings and defending 10-straight titles is exceedingly heavy. Add the fact that Baylor has never won in Allen Fieldhouse and the weight doubles. Baylor got it going early, shooting over 60 percent and nailing three of its first four from behind the arc to firing out to a double-digit lead, 33-27, heading into halftime.
Freshman guard Kelly Oubre, Jr., tied for the
game-high with 18 points, including four threes.Even after an 11-3 run to start the second half, Kansas found itself still fighting to claim the lead. A 10-0 KU run in less than 90 seconds turned the tables for good. The Jayhawks went on to sink five of their last six shots in the game, capping a 54.5 percent (12-for-22) shooting performance compared to a 30.8 percent mark (8-for-26) from Baylor. The Big 12’s best rebounding team outdid Kansas on the glass for the game (33-32), but the Jayhawks’ 17-12 rebounding advantage in the final 20 minutes was vital.
Ellis’ 18 points – 10 of which came in the second half – puts him at 1,015 points for his three-year career. He is the 56th player in Kansas men’s basketball history to join the 1,000-point club and the first to reach it in a Jayhawk-only career since Thomas Robinson (2011-12). Tarik Black (2013-14) and Kevin Young (2102-13) also hit 1,000 career points, but did so at Kansas and their former schools (Black: Memphis, Young: Loyola-Marymount). Ellis and Oubre tied for the team-lead with six rebounds apiece, while Oubre tied his career-high with four three-pointers.
Sophomore guard Wayne Selden, Jr., led all scorers with 12 second-half points thanks to his career-high 8-for-9 free throw shooting. Fellow sophomore guard Frank Mason III snapped his 21-game double-digit scoring streak, scoring all five of his points in the second half, but dished out eight assists to two turnovers. The biggest spark of the game arguably belonged to sophomore forward Landen Lucas, who tied his career-high with nine points.
Senior guard Kenny Chery was just as backbreaking to the Jayhawk defense as he was in KU’s Big 12 opener in Waco on Jan. 7. Though he didn’t repeat his 25-point performance, he still tallied 17 on 5-of-10 three-point shooting. Junior forward Rico Gathers led the Bears with 18 points and tied junior Taurean Prince with eight rebounds.
It was all Baylor early. Even when freshman forward Cliff Alexander swatted a shot from BU’s Royce O’Neale, the Bears scooped up the offensive board and kicked it back out to Chery, who immediately drilled a three-pointer. By the second media timeout, Kansas was facing a 12-2 deficit on the glass and a 23-10 lag on the scoreboard.
Not halfway through the first half, Kansas was already forced to mount a comeback. Point-by-point, the Jayhawks accepted the challenge. Aggressive moves to the buckets turned into four-straight free throws to lay the ground work. KU’s 2014-15 trademark three-point attack took over from there. A lethal Oubre-Selden-Oubre flurry from downtown fueled a 13-3 run. In a three-minute span, KU’s deficit was slashed to three, 26-23.
The Bears were shoved off the scoreboard for almost six minutes while Kansas pulled within a possession, but Chery highlighted their return with his third three-pointer of the half. Baylor went to the lockerroom with the 33-27 lead, but freshman guard Devonte’ Graham gave a glimpse of what awaited the crowd in the second half.
With 15 seconds to play, Chery dribbled on the Jayhawk with intent to give his team the half’s final look at the basket. Graham held his ground, pestering the Baylor senior until he was whistled for the five-second call. KU didn’t capitalize on the final possession, opting instead to stockpile its firepower for the second half.
It worked. Out of the gate, Mason found Selden for a picturesque alley-oop. Selden ran right through the wall, scoring the Jayhawks’ first seven points of the half. When Oubre joined him with a jumper in the paint, the Fieldhouse erupted. For the first time all day, Kansas took the lead.
Now the trick was keeping it. Kansas started the half on an 11-3 run to put Baylor behind, 38-36, but an O’Neale three-pointer put the Bears back in front. Claiming a blowout lead was preferred, but the Jayhawks never strayed from striking distance. Cleaning up the glass after a three-point miss, Lucas twice battled for the offensive rebound and ended the struggle with a three-point play. Graham hopped in for two free throws of his own before Lucas hit two more. Finally, Brannen Greene emerged.
The sophomore sharpshooter leads the Big 12 in three-point accuracy, but was off on Saturday making just one of his six shots. Nevertheless, a confident Greene launched a three-pointer from the corner.
The three-pointer capped a 10-0 run, putting Kansas in front, 55-49. The Jayhawks never trailed again. With eight minutes still on the clock, the Kansas big men took to the stage. Ellis added to his historic day with three-straight baskets. Directly after scoring on his own end, Lucas planted his feet on the defensive end and took a charge from Gathers. His teammates erupted, the crowd joined him. Both knew it was over.
Two more baskets from Ellis and the last of Oubre’s four three-pointers sent Kansas to its first double-digit lead of the game. Mason and Selden’s final free throws iced the cake on the 74-64 win.
Kansas will next play at West Virginia on Feb. 16 in its third of four ESPN Big Monday appearances of the 2014-15 season. The game will begin at 8 p.m. (Central), 9 p.m. local. The Jayhawks will return home to host TCU on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 3 p.m., on either ESPN or ESPN2.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): So. G Frank Mason, III (25/28), So. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (25/60), Fr. G Kelly Oubre, Jr. (17/17), Jr. F Perry Ellis (25/62), Fr. F Cliff Alexander (3/3)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads, 23-4
ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (224-consecutive sellouts)
- Made Kansas 21-4 overall, the 26th-straight season that the Jayhawks have won 21 games.
- Bettered Kansas to 10-2 in league play, giving KU 10 or more conference victories for the 20th-consecutive season (beginning in 1994-95).
- Added to KU’s all-time series advantage, which Kansas now leads 23-4, including a 13-0 mark in games played in Lawrence (12-0 in Allen Fieldhouse).
- Marked the fourth-straight win against Baylor.
- Extended KU’s win streak inside Allen Fieldhouse to 21 games, the 11th-longest home win streak in Kansas history.
- Moved the Jayhawks to 12-0 in the Fieldhouse this season, 725-109 all-time in the venue and 187-9 under head coach Bill Self.
- Improved Self to 346-73 while at Kansas, 15-4 against Baylor (15-3 at Kansas) and 553-178 overall.
- Made KU 2,147-825 all-time.
- Baylor’s 33-27 lead at halftime marked the first time Kansas has trailed after the first 20 minutes of a home Big 12 Conference game since trailing 40-34 to Oklahoma State on Feb. 2, 2013.
- Kansas has trailed at the half this season eight times and now has a 5-3 record in those contests.
- After trailing by as many as 13 in the first half (23-10), Kansas took its first lead of the game with 17:15 to play in the second half (36-35).
- Saturday marked the 30th time that Kansas has played on Valentine’s Day and is 22-8 all-time on love’s favorite holiday.
- Kansas fell behind out of the gate, 23-10, thanks to Baylor making six of its first eight shots. The Jayhawks suffocated the Bears from that point forward, keeping them off the scoreboard for nearly six minutes during an 0-for-6 span. Baylor’s 75 percent shooting start turned into a 40 percent mark (13-for-30) by halftime.
- The Jayhawks did not score a point off of just four Baylor turnovers in the first half. On the contrary, in the second half, the Jayhawks converted eight Baylor turnovers into 14 points.
- Baylor entered the afternoon as the best rebounding team in the Big 12 and fifth-best in the NCAA. The Bears overwhelmed Kansas with a 12-2 rebounding start, but Kansas came within one of tying BU in the rebounding column, 33-32. That’s more than eight rebounds fewer than Baylor’s rebounding average (41.2).
- Kansas kept the Big 12’s leading rebounder Baylor’s Rico Gathers to just eight boards. Gathers came into the contest averaging 12.6 rebounds per contest. Saturday’s single-digit effort became just the fifth time this season that Gathers was held under double-digits on the rebound column.
- Baylor’s bench outscored the Jayhawks’ reinforcements (16-to-14) marking just the seventh time this season Kansas’ bench has been outscored. Even in games when the opposition gets more production from its bench than KU, the Jayhawks are still 5-2 in these contests.
- KU’s 29 free throw attempts are the most by the Jayhawks since going to the line 46 times against Oklahoma State on Jan. 13, 2015. However, KU’s 24 made free throws against Baylor marked the first time the Jayhawks have made 20 or more free throws in over a month – after making 32 against Oklahoma State.
- KU’s seven offensive rebounds and two blocked shots tied for season lows.
- Baylor’s Kenny Chery made five three-point tries marking the most by an individual this season.
- Junior F Perry Ellis collected his 1,000th career point at the 12:06 mark in the first half. He is the 56th player in Kansas men’s basketball history to join the 1,000-point club and the first to reach it in a Jayhawk-only career since Thomas Robinson (2011-12). Tarik Black (2013-14) and Kevin Young (2102-13) also hit 1,000 career points, but did so with combined points from Kansas and their former schools (Black: Memphis, Young: Loyola-Marymount).
- Ellis finished with the game making seven of his 11 shot attempts and completed the contest tying a team-high 18 points and grabbing six rebounds.
- Sophomore G Frank Mason III’s 21-straight games with 10 or more points ended on Saturday after he scored a season-low five points.
- Despite his streak ending on Saturday, Mason is still one of only four Jayhawks to record 21-straight games of 10+ points in the Bill Self era. He joined Wayne Simien (26, 2004-05), Thomas Robinson (27, 2011-12) and Marcus Morris (27, 2010-11).
- Mason has also dished eight assists in three of his last four contests.
- Mason’s eight assists against Baylor now gives him an assist-to-turnover ratio of 8-to-3 in Big 12 Conference play.
- Sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., scored KU’s first seven points to start the second half – powering the Jayhawks to their 11-3 run to start the frame and give Kansas its first lead of the game.
- Selden’s 15 points notched the fifth-straight game he has been in double-figures. In fact, Selden has only scored less than 15 points in one of the last five contests.
- Over the last five games, Selden is averaging 16 points per outing.
- Selden also made a career-best eight free throws against Baylor, while his nine free throw attempts tied a personal-best.
- Freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr., tied Ellis as the Jayhawks’ scoring leader with 18 points. It marks the fourth time this year Oubre has either tied for or led the team in points. Thanks to his 4-for-6 effort from three-point range, KU is now 8-0 when Oubre connects on multiple treys.
- Sophomore F Landen Lucas tied his career-high with nine points. After point number nine, Lucas took a charge from Baylor’s Rico Gathers on the very next possession.
POSTGAME QUOTES KANSAS
Kansas head coach Bill Self
On Perry Ellis’ career:
“I’ve had high expectations for him from day one. Exceeded is too strong, but I’ll say he’s gotten close to where we thought he could be. He’s done great and he’s been consistent. I thought his rookie season it took him about two-thirds of the season to be comfortable and be aggressive, but for the most part I think that he’s had a great run here. If he were to stay all four years, he would put himself in a situation where he could be one of the 15 leading scorers ever in the history of the school, which would be pretty cool. I’m happy for him.”
On Rico Gathers, Sr.’s performance for Baylor:
“He made some hard shots. Of the six baskets he made, I bet you three of them were shots we would hope he would take, and then he delivered. Then he made his free throws, and he hasn’t shot a great percentage from the line. If we did one good thing on him, it was he only got two offensive rebounds. But we didn’t do a great job on him, I thought he played very well. I thought the whole team played well.”
On the difference between the two halves of play:
“We were down 13, if I’m not mistaken. They hung 23 on us in the first nine minutes of the game. After that, they missed some open looks that they made early, and we defended them and rebounded better. I think we were down 12-2 rebounding the ball, so we didn’t come ready to play and they came really ready to play. The biggest thing in the second half was they shot a low percentage, we did a much better job on the glass and we attacked their zone a lot better. They played their zone totally different this time than what they did the first time. They took away the middle almost like a 1-3-1 and kept the guard in there, which they didn’t do the first time. We labored and struggled, and in the second half we did a much better job of attacking.”
On Cliff Alexander’s performance in the starting lineup:
“I think he did fine. He made two jumpers, which was good, and I thought he battled in there pretty good. I think sometimes young kids that are figuring out how to play struggle more against the zone than the man. Guys that know how to play you could tell know how to play against a zone far better than a man. Landen Lucas knows how to play against the zone. I thought those two guys combined to play well.”
On not knowing who Kansas’ best player will be every night:
“I don’t think too many people will feel sorry for you if you have several good players. We don’t know who our leading scorer will be for the most part. Frank Mason III got five tonight and wasn’t really a factor offensively because of the zone. Perry got 18. Kelly Oubre, Jr., kept us in it in the first half and then Wayne Selden, Jr., got us over the hump in the second half. Those two guys were probably the best offensive players that we had for the most part and then, of course, Perry. If you get three good players playing well on the same night, then your chances of winning are pretty good and that’s what happened tonight.”
On Perry Ellis’ being more vocal:
“He has become more vocal. This doesn’t mean he’s vocal, but he’s become more vocal. He’s more comfortable in his own skin and is much more confident. I’ve coached him for three years and he leaves me wanting more. I think he’s playing closer to his ceiling than he has been.”
On Kelly Oubre, Jr.’s consistency:
“Today he made shots early. But, to me, with guys that are stat sheet stuffers, the concern is to give your team the best chance to have good possessions, defensive energy, scouting report and things like that. When you’re worried about doing the right thing then you make your shots. I talked to Coach Jerry Sloan yesterday about it and he used the phrase ‘ass backward.’ Kids want to shoot good and then play good, but kids should want to play good and then shoot good. Then it’s easier to make shots because you are not focused on making shots. That’s the one thing with Kelly that I want to see consistency with, because he is a good shooter, but that is not who he is. He is a junkyard dog. He can do a lot of things and when he’s worried about those things, it just seems more natural for him to jump up and make shots.”
On preparing for West Virginia Monday night in Morgantown:
“We practiced for West Virginia for one day about 11 days ago. We spent the entire practice going against eight guys. But that was 11 days ago. Tomorrow we’ll prepare in a 30-minute practice. If you’re going to play West Virginia and only practice for 30 minutes, you’d be better doing it the second game. Certainly Frank, Wayne (Selden, Jr.), Kelly, Devonte’ (Graham) and Brannen (Greene) need to show up. Hopefully our guys go in with the mindset to score instead of survive.”
On playing three different defenses three games in a row:
“We’ll try to simplify it for them, showing them possessions that are good and that people didn’t have success with. One of the reasons our league is good is for postseason preparation; there are not many styles that people with throw at us that we haven’t seen. There has been a lot of things that happened within our league that will help our team moving forward.”
On Landen Lucas’ play today:
“He was great. He got 14 minutes, but he made the most of them. He’s worked hard. To me, Cliff Alexander is ahead of him. But there are certain things that Landen does better than any big guy we have because he understands the game better than any big guy we have. For him to have the confidence to shoot it, it’s always nice to see it go in because that is a big moment for a youngster and I was happy to see it go in.”
Kansas junior forward Perry Ellis
On scoring his 1,000th point in today’s victory versus Baylor:
“It was a great accomplish and I’m just blessed to be in this position. It’s really an honor and feels great. I’m just trying to keep getting better and better and keep winning.”
On the recent play of sophomore guard Brannen Greene:
“He played tremendously. He came out with great effort and that really helped us get over the hump. He did a great job.”
On playing West Virginia Monday night in Morgantown:
“We have to get ready and leave tomorrow; practice, prepare, get better and work on the press offense.”
Kansas freshman guard Kelly Oubre, Jr.
On shooting 4-of-6 from behind the three-point arc today:
“I’ve been working hard in the gym this week on my shot because I haven’t been hitting them as well lately. Pretty much, over time, I’ve been trying to get my confidence up. Today I was just feeling it from behind the arc, so I just kept shooting it.”
Kansas junior forward Landen Lucas
On his focus and preparation for today’s game:
“Yeah, you have to always stay ready. I was prepared to go in. When I did, I just tried to help the team out.”
On the team’s strategy to stop Baylor junior forward Rico Gathers from rebounding:
“It was just to make sure to know where he was and to keep a body on him. A lot of times guys will just turn and look for the rebound. He’s too strong and goes up to the glass too hard; if you don’t put a body on him, it’ll be too easy. That’s what we tried to do and we held him to two offensive rebounds.”
On significance of his five made free throws in today’s game:
“I’ve been working on them a lot. I started out the season not shooting them very well, so I got into the gym and started a training routine. I take a lot of free throws after practice, so I’m happy it is paying off.”
POSTGAME QUOTES BAYLOR
Baylor head coach Scott Drew
“I have to apologize for my voice, I’ve been sick. The officials love it, they can’t hear me. The players love it, they can’t hear me. But I only got one or two answers in me.”
On Baylor’s last opportunity to have a chance at the conference title:
“This is the Big 12, you don’t lose opportunity is, you have to take them. They made shots down the stretch. We did get stopped. We missed shots. They won.”
On getting the shots they wanted (Taurean Prince’s two open three-pointers):
“Yes sir, we got the shots we wanted, they just didn’t go in. Now we have to rebound and get stops on the other end.”
On Kansas keeping Rico Gathers of the glass:
“They are a physical team, Coach Self always does a great job coaching guys and making sure you don’t get easy shots. You have to beat them and Rico definitely had to work for every offensive rebound tonight.”
On Kansas’ three-point shooting:
“Kelly (Oubre Jr.) was really good tonight, made some big shots. They have three of them that have been doing real well so it’s tough to guard everybody. That’s where you credit other people for making shots. We have to do a better job closing out the shooters quicker.”
Baylor senior guard Kenny Chery
On a summary of the game:
“We executed, we did exactly what coach asked for. We fought, we battled, we never gave up but we came up short.”
On getting the shots that they wanted:
“There is nothing you can do about it. Exactly like you said, we got the shots we wanted, we just didn’t put it in. You can’t do anything about that, you just have to move on and go to the defensive end and get stops.”
On the hot start that he and the team got off to:
“We just wanted to come out and be aggressive. We knew we were playing in front of a hostile crowd and (in a) great environment. We just wanted to stay together; that’s exactly what we did and we ended up starting off well.”
On how big Kelly Oubre, Jr.’s three-point shot was when Baylor was within three points:
“It was a big one, it was a big one. He stopped in transition and just shot that three. It didn’t hurt us; it was just the usual for them. We just had to go on the other end and convert and we didn’t.”
On how Kansas has been able to take over teams/games in the second half:
“The one thing about this (Baylor) team is that we always stay together no matter what. Down 20 or up 20 we always stay together, from the coaching staff to the last player on the bench. We came out the second half knowing that they weren’t just going to give us the game we had to go and get it. That’s one thing we did, we stayed together no matter what happened.”
On if he went in thinking that Baylor would come out victorious:
“Definitely. Every game, it doesn’t matter where we play, we always walk in to the gym thinking we can win this game. We just have to give the glory to God no matter what; lose or win, we just stay together.”
Baylor junior forward Rico Gathers
On how Kansas was able to keep him off the glass:
“I think they did a good job hitting the boards tonight. A lot of the shots that were taken weren’t really bouncing our way. They got some rebounds that they were supposed to get. They made it tough tonight, but that didn’t have anything to do with why we lost.”
On why he believes that Baylor lost:
“Just execution, as always. Being able to execute when you’re down two, you have to be able to make that shot, that three-pointer, you have to be able to hit it. We got the looks; we just weren’t able to pull away.”
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