Ten There, Done That: Kansas Basketball Year in Review

25-10 Overall | 14-4 Big 12 | Final Notes
Kansas ranked as high as No. 5 in the country en route to its 10th-straight Big 12 Conference regular-season championship.
2013-14 Accolades | Wiggins
•      Wooden All-American Team
•      NABC All-America Second Team
•      USBWA All-America Freshman Team
•      Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team
•      NABC All-District 8 First Team
•      USBWA All-America Second Team
•      SI.com All-America Second Team
•      USBWA All-District VI
•      Sporting News All-America Second Team
•      Big 12 Newcomer of the Week (3.9.14)
•      Big 12 Freshman of the Year (Big 12, AP)
•      All-Big 12 First Team (Big 12, AP)
•      Big 12 All-Newcomer Team
•      Wooden Award Final Ballot (1 of 15)
•      Wayman Tisdale Award Finalist by USBWA 
•      Oscar Robertson  Finalist List by USBWA 
•      Naismith Men’s College POY Candidate 
•      Wayman Tisdale National FOTW (1.28.14)
•      Big 12 Newcomer of the Week (1.27.14)
•      Big 12 Newcomer of the Week (11.18.13)
2013-14 Accolades | Embiid
•      Associated Press All-America HM
•      USBWA Freshman All-America
•      NABC All-District 8 First Team
•      USBWA All-District VI
•      Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year
•      All-Big 12 Second Team (Big 12, AP)
•      Big 12 All-Defensive Team
•      Big 12 All-Newcomer Team
•      Wayman Tisdale Award Finalist by USBWA
•      Naismith Men’s College POY Candidate
•      Oscar Robertson Midseason Watch List 
•      Wayman Tisdale National FOTW (1.21.14)
•      CBSSports.com National POTW (1.20.14)
•      Big 12 Newcomer of the Week (1.20.14)
•      Big 12 Newcomer of the Week (12.2.13)
 2013-14 Accolades | Ellis
•     NABC All-District 8 Second Team •     All-Big 12 Third Team (AP; Big 12) •     Academic All-Big 12 Second Team  •     co-Big 12 POTW (2.17.14; 11.18.13) •     NABC Good Works Team Nominee •     Battle 4 Atlantis All-Tournament Team •     Naismith Trophy Early Watch List •     Preseason All-Big 12 Honorable Mention
2013-14 Accolades | Selden, Jr.
•     All-Big 12 Honorable Mention •     Wayman Tisdale National FOTW (1.14.14) •     Athlon Sports National FOTW (1.13.14) •     Big 12 Newcomer of the Week (1.13.14) •     Dick Vitale’s Diaper Dandy (1.13.14) •     Naismith Trophy Early Watch List •     John R. Wooden Preseason List (1 of 50) •     Wayman Tisdale  Preseason Watch List 
2013-14 Accolades | Tharpe
•     All-Big 12 Honorable Mention •     Oscar Robertson National POTW (1.21.14) •     Big 12 Player of the Week (1.20.14)
2013-14 Accolades | Black
•     Athletic Director’s Honor Roll (Fall 2013)
•     Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll (Fall 2013) •     Big 12 Newcomer of the Week (12.23.13) •     Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year
2013-14 Accolades | Roberts
•     Academic All-Big 12 Second Team •     Athletic Director’s Honor Roll (Fall 2013)
•     Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll (Fall 2013)
2013-14 Accolades | Garrett
•     Athletic Director’s Honor Roll (Fall 2013)
•     Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll (Fall 2013)

LAWRENCE, Kan. – No starters returned, but the expectations certainly did when the Kansas men’s basketball team replaced all five members of its starting lineup to begin the 2013-14 season. Nevertheless, the group of freshmen and untested upperclassmen chalked up the 10th-straight Big 12 Conference title and the 25th-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.
After the departure of the veteran lineup that powered the 2012-13 squad, including two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jeff Withey, three-year starting guards Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford and Freshman All-American Ben McLemore, the Jayhawks took on a completely different look in 2013-14. For the third time in Bill Self’s 11 years in Lawrence, Kansas won the Big 12 title without a single starter returning from the previous season.
The road to the conference crown was preceded by a non-conference slate that featured seven nationally-ranked foes. In Big 12 play, the top-ranked RPI conference, KU went on to play 11 games against league opponents either in the top 25 or receiving votes to comprise the strongest schedule in the country (RPIratings.com).
Nine newcomers – six true freshmen – joined the Jayhawks in the offseason, giving remarkable depth to Self’s squad, but a very inexperienced one. When Kansas took to the floor for the season opener against Louisiana at Monroe on Nov. 8, four of the starting five had never played a game at Kansas. Self utilized five different lineups before settling on the one used for the majority of the year – junior guard Naadir Tharpe, sophomore forward Perry Ellis, freshman center Joel Embiid and freshmen guards Wayne Selden, Jr. and Andrew Wiggins. By season’s end, all five landed on the All-Big 12 Team.
Wiggins led the way, setting the Kansas freshman single-season scoring record with 597 points and a 17.1 scoring average in 2013-14. Along with his natural scoring ability, Wiggins led Kansas in steals with 41 and came in second on the team with 34 blocked shots. On March 31, Wiggins declared for the 2014 NBA Draft, but not before collecting a long list of postseason accolades. Those included All-America Second Team honors from six different entities, USBWA Freshman All-America status and being named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
Embiid joined Wiggins as one of the Jayhawks’ freshmen phenoms, setting KU rookie records in blocked shots (72), field goal percentage (62.6) and rebounds per game (8.1). His 2.6 blocks per game led all Big 12 freshmen and ranked second overall in the conference, garnering Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year accolades. The seven-foot center rejected at least one shot in 22-straight games before missing the last six games due to a stress fracture in his lower back. His absence from the Big 12 Championship and the NCAA Tournament was distinctly felt as KU’s best rim protector was forced to sit and watch the Jayhawks’ early exit from both tournaments.
To clearly define the Jayhawks’ lack of experience, Ellis returned for his sophomore season as the most veteran player in the starting lineup – with three previous starts. Although his experience was slim, Ellis still used it to his advantage, chalking up double-digits 23 different times and pulling down a team-high 234 rebounds. The Wichita native was one of KU’s most consistent performers, leading the team with a 54.5 field goal percentage and rattled off the Jayhawks’ best shooting efforts of the year with a 13-for-15 total against TCU and an 11-for-12 shooting performance in the semifinals of the Big 12 Championship – a tournament record (91.7 percent).
Selden and Wiggins were the only two Jayhawks to start all 35 games this season. Selden scored in each contest, including 14 double-digits efforts, but also served as the team’s lockdown defender. He was known for ‘giving himself up’ to guard the opposing team’s best scorer, rather than lead his own team on the scoreboard.
Tharpe rounded out the All-Big 12 starting lineup as the floor general. Although he began his third year with the team in 2013-14, he made his first career start in KU’s win against Duke on Nov. 12. Tharpe embraced the role throughout the ups and downs associated with learning to become a true leader on the court. He finished the year tied for the team lead in three-pointers (43) and led the team in assists (170) and free throw percentage (82.1).
Other key contributors came by way of the ‘Bruise Brothers’ in senior forward Tarik Black and sophomore forward Jamari Traylor. Traylor was the first off the bench in half of KU’s contests, providing immediate spark by diving after loose balls and attacking the glass. Both very accurate shooters, Traylor and Black hovered around the 70 percent shooting mark all season and ended at 67.4 and 69.2 percent, respectively.
Ranked No. 5/6 in the preseason polls, Kansas quickly set the tone of the 2013-14 season being a high-scoring one, cranking out 80 or more points in its first five games. In the second game of the year, the Jayhawks were immediately immersed in the NCAA’s most difficult schedule as they traveled to Chicago to play in the Champions Classic against No. 4 Duke. Kansas opened eyes when its brand new set of starters defeated the Blue Devils by double-digits, 94-83. Led by Ellis’ 24 points, the Jayhawks also received a combined 52 points from the freshmen guard trio Wiggins, Selden and Frank Mason.
A brief two-game homestand broke up the Chicago trip and the next major tournament – the Battle 4 Atlantis. The team traveled to Paradise Island in the Bahamas to take on Wake Forest, Villanova and UTEP. KU came away with two wins and a loss, falling to eventual top-five ranked Villanova. Upon returning from the islands, KU was slapped with another set of brutal road contests, this time at nationally-ranked Colorado and Florida. The pair of losses against the Buffaloes and Gators sent Kansas back to Lawrence with a 6-3 record – and a sense of urgency to right the ship.
Four-straight games in front of their home crowd appeared to be the needed fix as the Jayhawks handily defeated New Mexico, Georgetown and Toledo to set the stage for the final non-conference tune-up of the year – an Allen Fieldhouse meeting against No. 19 San Diego State. The Aztecs proceeded to beat the Jayhawks at their own game, using stout defense to hold KU to a season-low 57 points and handing the home team just its ninth loss in Allen Fieldhouse in Self’s 11 years with the program.
Following the loss, Self and his players noted that losses are only bad when nothing is learned from them. So, Kansas did exactly that. Three days later, KU opened its Big 12 slate at Oklahoma and walked away with a 90-83 victory, the most points KU has scored in a road-Big 12 opener in the Self era.
The turnaround was immediate. The win at OU sparked a 7-0 start to conference play, including wins against Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor and a crucial series sweep versus Iowa State. KU’s string of victories against No. 25 Kansas State, No. 8 Iowa State, No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 24 Baylor made the Jayhawks the first team to defeat four-straight ranked opponents in regular-season play since North Carolina did so during the 1996-97 season.
No. 25 Texas broke up KU’s winning streak with a win on its home court in Austin, to which the Jayhawks responded with back-to-back victories at Baylor and home against West Virginia. Not only did staying an extra day due to weather make the Baylor trip noteworthy, Wiggins also hit a half-court shot before the halftime buzzer for KU’s only long ball of the year.  
An almost-epic comeback at Kansas State saw the Jayhawks erase a 59-68 deficit with 1:53 remaining, rallying for a 10-1 scoring run to force the first overtime game of the season. Four points from Wiggins, four from freshman guard Brannen Greene and a pull-up jumper from Tharpe kept the game alive. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, KSU shook off the remarkable retaliation and hung on for the win, making KU 22-4 all-time in KSU’s Bramlage Coliseum.
The Jayhawks would lose only twice more for the rest of the regular season (at Oklahoma State and at West Virginia). KU’s lead in the conference race was large enough that despite the loss in Stillwater, Kansas still managed to clinch its 10th-consecutive regular season title with a three-game advantage in the standings and only two games remaining on the schedule. The 14-4 league record was two games better than Oklahoma’s second-place mark of 12-6.
The Oklahoma State game, also the site of ESPN College GameDay, saw the Jayhawks lose more than the game. Embiid took another hit to the back, aggravating what was later diagnosed as a stress fracture in his lower back. He was shelved while undergoing rehab and trying to get healthy, biding his time to make it back on the court. Embiid did not play another game during the 2013-14 season.
Winning the league sent KU to the 2014 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 1 seed for the 11th time, sixth-straight, in the 18-year history of the league. In the quarterfinals, Wiggins followed up his KU-freshman record 41 points at West Virginia (3/8) with a 30-point performance in the Big 12 quarterfinals against Oklahoma State. His scoring outburst led Kansas to an overtime win against the Cowboys, while the 71 points in two-consecutive games marked the most points by a Jayhawk in two-straight games since the record began being kept in the 1988-89 season. The win advanced Kansas to the semifinals against Iowa State, where the Cyclones shot lights out to move past KU and eventually claim the tourney title.
Two days later, the NCAA Selection Committee handed Kansas a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament – KU’s 25th-consecutive trip, the longest active streak in Division I. Without the use of their Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in Embiid, KU relied heavily on its leading scorers and big-man depth to give the Jayhawks the chance of Embiid’s possible return by the Sweet 16.
In the NCAA Second Round matchup against Eastern Kentucky at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Wiggins led the team with 19 points, but the main story revolved around the ‘Bruise Brothers’ and freshman guard Conner Frankamp instead.
Traylor broke loose for 16 points in the second half en route to his first career double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Black added 12 points and Ellis also chalked up a double-double. Frankamp came in to shut down a hot three-point shooting EKU squad and ended up cranking out 10 points himself. So far, so good on advancing without the star center.
Against 10th-seeded Stanford in the NCAA Third Round, Black did all he could. He led the floor with 18 points on 75 percent shooting before fouling out with 5:25 to play. Desperate for a spark, Frankamp broke up a crippling Kansas scoring drought that saw the Jayhawks sink to a 58-51 deficit with 32 seconds to play. His third three of the game cut the Stanford lead to four. His fourth sparked all hope of a comeback, pulling KU within two, 59-57, with 16 seconds to play.
Kansas’ luck ran out there. Stanford ended the Jayhawks’ season, 60-57. The Jayhawks’ 57 points tied their fewest in an NCAA Tournament game since scoring 55 in a 67-55 loss to UCLA in the Elite Eight on March 24, 2007 – and the lowest in a first or second round game since a 54-49 win over New Orleans in the first round of the 1991 NCAA Tournament.      
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