Kansas Keeps USA Undefeated Against Canada

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jamari Traylor was straight airborne, putting the exclamation point on another come-from-behind win for the United States against Canada. He caught Frank Mason III’s pass in-flight and slammed it through the hoop in the final minute, showcasing the teamwork and execution needed for the Kansas men’s basketball team to represent the USA in the 2015 World University Games.

Making its last appearance in America before heading to Gwangju, Korea, Kansas eradicated a 10-point deficit for the second-straight game to defeat the Canadian National Team inside Sprint Center Friday night, 87-76.
Wayne Selden, Jr., was a stud. He led the floor with 22 points and 10 rebounds, recording what would have been his first career double-double if the game had been official. He finished 6-for-11 from the floor, and when he wasn’t hitting threes (3-for-5), he dished out three assists and made seven of his eight free throws.
 Frank Mason III put up a double-double night 
with 15 points and 11 assists.
Senior-to-be Perry Ellis played a major role with 18 points and narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Tuesday’s hero, Mason, was happy to play the supporting role on Friday as his 11 assists would have tied a career high. Between he and Ellis, the two combined for an impressive seven steals. His 15 points were an added – and necessary – bonus. Aside from Traylor’s celebration dunk, he came away with six points, seven boards and two steals.
Echoing what they did against Canada on Tuesday, the Americans again found themselves down by 10 points in the second quarter, by the exact same 35-25 margin. However, Kansas retooled and regrouped over halftime and came out firing at a 47 percent clip (18-for-38) in the second half, while silencing Canada to 9-of-28 shooting (32 percent) in the same span.
While KU’s shooting numbers drastically improved, it was the stats that didn’t show on the scoreboard that made the biggest impact. USA outdid Canada on the glass (47-37), in the assists column (22-15) and collected 13 steals compared to the visitors’ four.
Canada was led by guard Adika Peter-McNeilly’s 15 points along with Aaron Best and Tommy Nixon, who each hung up 10 points apiece. The trio recorded seven of Canada’s 10 three-pointers on the evening.
The Jayhawk defense was on point in the opening quarter, evidenced by a well-executed halfcourt trap by Selden and Traylor. After a Selden three-pointer and a crafty Ellis steal/Mason layup, KU rolled out an 11-4 lead.
Canada had some defensive prowess up its sleeve, using its size to clamp down on the Jayhawks in the middle and allowing its offense to close the gap. A 9-0 run suddenly shot the visitors in front, 16-13. When shot blockers clogged the lane, the U.S. responded from the perimeter. Mason launched his first three and Carlton Bragg, Jr., connected on a long two-pointer. Selden snuck to the hoop for a last-second layup, ending the first quarter with a 21-20 Canada advantage.
The same lights-out three-point shooting that built Canada’s big lead on Tuesday crept up again in the second quarter. Back-to-back treys from Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson and Best got the Canadians out to a 29-21 lead, prompting a Bill Self timeout. Out of the pause, the visiting squad upped its lead to 35-25, while KU made just one of its 10 shots in the same stretch.
Facing its second double-digit deficit in as many games, the Americans again rose to the occasion. Guards Nic Moore, Mason and Selden attacked the basket and made every free throw they earned. A forced shot-clock violation later, Selden drained a corner three to cap an 11-0 Kansas run and take the lead. Despite a dismal 14.3 percent shooting (2-for-14) in the second quarter, Kansas had the 36-35 edge. Canada, with much better 7-for-14 second quarter, hit its sixth three-pointer to take a 40-36 lead into halftime.
The wake-up call worked. The Jayhawks made their first four baskets to start the third quarter, including a three-pointer from Moore and a one-handed statement dunk from Traylor. Canada’s stars never seemed to cool, putting up three more threes in the third, but Kansas had answers – most of which came from Selden. He continued to lead all scorers, even with Canada turning its focus directly on him. Even his defensive rebounds resulted in points as his last one of the quarter transitioned into a layup for Hunter Mickelson at the buzzer, setting up a 60-58 score to start the fourth.
The late bucket sparked Mickelson, who started the final frame with another layup, took a hard foul on a dunk attempt and swatted a Canadian shot attempt. Selden stepped back onto the scene, scoring his 20th point of the game. With seven minutes to play, Kansas took the 65-63 lead.
Kansas outran the visitors to keep them off the board for more than two minutes. A big rebound for Selden turned into an outlet pass-then-layup for Mason. Bragg hit a three-pointer and, for good measure, Selden chimed in with a put-back dunk – and zipped a pass to Bragg for a dunk. With two minutes on the clock, Kansas sailed to a 10-point margin, 81-71. With a roaring crowd, U-S-A chants and one more monster dunk from Traylor, Kansas wrapped up the 87-76 win.

  • USA Starters: G Frank Mason III, G Wayne Selden, Jr., G Nic Moore (SMU), F Perry Ellis, F Jamari Traylor
  • Canada Starters: G Johnny Berhanemeskel, G Aaron Best, G Jahmal Jones, F Josh Wolfram, F Chris McLaughlin
  • Wayne Selden, Jr., led all players in points (22) and rebounds (10), which would have been his first career double-double.
  • Frank Mason III recorded 15 points to go with his 11 assists, which would have been the guard’s second career double-double – but his first one that included assists. His other consisted of points and rebounds (vs. Michigan State, 11/30/14).
  • Mason’s 11 assists would have been the most by a Jayhawk since Naadir Tharpe recorded 12 against Iowa State (1/29/14).
  • KU’s 13 steals would have tied its 2014-15 season-high (vs. West Virginia, 3/3/15).

Head Coach Bill Self
On tonight’s game feeling similar to Tuesday’s game:
It was a lot like last game. I think we got down like eight or nine points in the last game (10) and 10 points tonight. Our starters looked great, if you were to look at our point differential from our starters compared to our subs, I bet our starters were plus 25 or 30 and our reserves didn’t play as well tonight until Hunter (Mickelson) sparked us and Carlton (Bragg, Jr.) did some things there late. I thought it was a pretty good game, Wayne (Selden, Jr.) player great. Perry (Ellis) was good. Frank (Mason III) was really good again. Nic (Moore) was good. We need those four to play and we need everyone else to be solid and we will have a chance to maybe win a few games over there.”
On Kansas’ bench points versus Canada’s bench points at halftime and concerns of depth:
“Without question. Julian (DeBose) can give us some good minutes and with Lagerald (Vick), he’s not ready yet. You take Perry out of our frontcourt and we don’t have a lot of scoring. The reality is we aren’t taking five players off of our team. I want to go over there and certainly win and all of those things, but the reason for doing this is to help prepare our guys for next year too.”
On playing multiple games in a short amount of time at the Gwangju University World Games in South Korea:
“If we had Devonte’ (Graham) we’ve got enough depth on the backcourt, all of those guys can play about 20-25 minutes and it would be a fun team, we could play fast; but without Devonte’ now we have to have a couple ball handlers in the game. It’s going to be hard. If every game is tough like these last two, then it will be real hard. Hopefully we will have some games where we don’t have to play Frank or Wayne or Nic more than 20 minutes, but I don’t know if that will be the case.”
On Wayne Selden, Jr., playing with more confidence:
Wayne was our second handler the year before where now we are playing him as our third handler, so he doesn’t have to be on the ball or do some things he had to do before. If he was in with (Andrew) Wiggins or (Kelly) Oubre (Jr.) he doesn’t go to the offensive glass nine out of 10 times, he’s got to get back for balance. When he is in with Frank or Nic it adds something to his game because he can become the offensive rebounder. Things like that will help him moving forward.”
Forward Perry Ellis
On the exhibition games against Canada preparing Kansas, representing the USA National Team, for the competition in the World University Games:
“They are a good team and I feel like this is going to help us moving forward. It was a good opportunity to play these two games before the trip.”

On Coach Self comparing this team’s experience to the 2012 team:
“He (Self) has not mentioned the team, but has mentioned the experience that we have.  That’s huge. This whole team is going to be huge for us and we are excited about it.”
On himself, Wayne Selden, Jr., and Frank Mason III merging as a “Big Three”:
“We play as a team and just play hard.”

Forward Hunter Mickelson
On big plays being made in the third quarter:
“Coach (Self) stressed that we needed to put more energy into the game at halftime.  When I was out there, I kind of got some breaks and other guys on the team got some opportunities.”

On Wayne Selden, Jr., having a breakout season:
“We are all working really hard in practice. All signs kind of point that way (to Selden having a breakout season). With this trip coming up, giving everyone the extra time – in practice and games – it’s great. We will all definitely benefit from that.”

On playing five games in six days and how the team’s depth will help Team USA:
“It’s different playing games back-to-back like that. We need to adjust to things, like how people are going to be rotating in and out and the number of games that are going to be played. I think everyone is going to be getting more minutes and will be rotating in and out.”

On if there was a moment he felt like he was “locked in” to the game:
“Like I said, it just came to me. Coach (Self) really expressed at halftime that we needed more energy. I was just kind of putting my head down and looking to be ‘that guy’ to help. I got a great pass from Frank and then, after that, everyone picked it up on the defensive end. It is fun and easy to play when you have guys this talented who can move the ball quickly and get good looks.”

Guard Wayne Selden, Jr.
On feeling confident in his game:
“I feel good, my body feels good, the team is really coming together and we have a lot of energy.”

On the team’s mindset being down 10 points for the second-straight game:
“We stayed down and tried to chip away at the lead.”

On himself, Perry Ellis and Frank Mason III merging as a “Big Three”:
“We all have a job to do. There is never just a ‘big three,’ especially in a college basketball situation, we need everybody.”

Head Coach Barnaby Craddock
On the play of Kansas guard Wayne Selden, Jr.:
“(Jokingly) Why is the first question you guys always ask about the guy who torched us? I thought he played well the in other game too. He hit some big shots and had that huge offensive rebound late in the game (Tuesday) and then obviously did those things tonight too. We knew coming in he was going to be a load and he was tough on the glass as well. He’s a big, physical guy and he’s going to have a great year next year. He’s a tough check. He shoots the ball well and can play inside and outside.”
On surrendering 10-point leads to Kansas in consecutive games:
“It’s going to get away from a lot of people in this environment. I couldn’t be prouder of our guys. (I’m proud of) The fact that we came in here and managed to get up for a little bit and then deal with the crowd and the environment when Kansas made that inevitable run that a talented team is going to make. Then we managed to come back again and stay in the game, but eventually we just couldn’t pull it out on the two nights. I thought that we took a few punches and tried to bounce back both nights, but they’re a talented team and they got the crowd behind them here in Kansas City and it’s a tough place to get that win.”
On the two games helping each team next week in the World University Games Tournament:
“What a fantastic experience for both teams. Hopefully the fans were leaving happy both nights too. They should be enjoying this basketball this time of year, seeing two talented teams duke it out. Now going over to Korea and (having) played in this environment can only help the two teams a little bit. We’ll be more game-ready with these two games.”
Guard Tommy Nixon
On the fighting to stay in the game in the second half:
“There were just a couple of key momentum plays. The ones that really get the crowd behind them. That’s really what set them apart in that last couple of minutes. Confidence-wise, we have the confidence. We feel like we can play and there was no question of that. They just had those key plays down the stretch that really spread the game open in those last couple of minutes.”
Guard Adik Peter-McNeilly
On hoping to play Kansas again in South Korea with a less Jayhawk-friendly fan base:
“Absolutely. For sure. Hopefully. I don’t know how the crowd is going to be in South Korea. I know playing in this type of environment helped out both teams.”

The USA National Team will play China in one more exhibition contest on July 2 in Gwangju, Korea before officially opening the World University Games against Turkey on Saturday, July 4, at Dongkang Gymnasium, which is 10 p.m. (Central) on Friday, July 3, in Lawrence.
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