Basketball is Back: Kansas Rolls Washburn in Exhibition
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Thirty minutes in, the big play that Kansas fans await each gameday came through via a Kelly Oubre, Jr. breakaway dunk delivered by a grinning Wayne Selden, Jr. Kansas downed Washburn, 85-53, in the unofficial start to the 2014-15 men’s basketball season Monday night inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Squaring off in exhibition play for the first time since 2012 and the 40th time overall, No. 5 Kansas and Washburn were heartily welcomed by the Allen Fieldhouse crowd, eager to watch the latest edition of the Jayhawks in action. High-octane recruit Cliff Alexander played to his hype, leading the Jayhawks with a game-high-tying 14 points on 6-for-8 accuracy and coming in just one rebound short of a double-double. His three blocks, all in the first half, led his team’s solid defensive effort as the Jayhawks chalked up nine rejections and held the Ichabods under 30 percent shooting.
Kelly Oubre delighted the crowd in KU’s
exhibition win Monday night. KU’s other freshman All-American, Oubre was also solid in his debut with nine points, including his thunder dunk inside the 12-minute mark. By night’s end, all 15 Jayhawks checked in and 12 scored en route to a 30-for-53 field-goal performance (56.6 percent). Nine of those came from behind the arc, only one shy of KU’s best three-point total a year ago (10 vs. Iowa State, 1/29/14).
Sophomore guard Frank Mason started the game at point, flanked on either side by Selden and freshman Devonte’ Graham, the only newcomer to crack the starting lineup. All-Big 12 returnee Perry Ellis reclaimed his starting spot, while junior forward Jamari Traylor would have registered his second career start had the game counted.
Mason looked the part at floor general, dishing out a game-high seven assists to just one turnover while turning in 13 points with only one missed shot on the night. Sophomore forward Landen Lucas posted a perfect 4-for-4 show to tally nine points and six rebounds. He, Traylor, Alexander and junior forward Hunter Mickelson all swatted multiple shots in the win.
On the opposing bench, senior guard Korey Fisher tied Alexander for the game’s lead with 14 points. He hit two of Washburn’s three three-pointers on Monday as the Ichabods were held to 3-for-20 from long range.
Senior guard Kyle Wiggins connected on a long jumper to put his team ahead 2-1, but the early lead would be the Ichabods’ last. Selden answered with a three on the other end to fuel an 8-0 run, capped by Graham’s first fastbreak layup as a Jayhawk. Not 15 seconds after he checked in, Alexander turned KU’s run to 12-straight points with back-to-back buckets. Halfway through the opening 20 minutes, Ellis already had a three-pointer to his credit and four of KU’s five freshmen had checked into the game. Like Alexander, Oubre also wasted no time collecting his first basket as he drained a three from the corner in hurry.
The rookies shared their night of firsts with Mickelson, who at long last heard his named called after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. He scored a put-back layup, a turnaround hook shot and blocked a shot to power KU’s lead past the 20-point plateau. Moments later, a three from Mason pushed it over 25 points.
Three minutes remained in the first half when a runner through the lane by Fisher finally put the Ichabods in double-digits. By halftime, KU’s defense had taken its toll, pestering Washburn with seven blocks and five steals. While Kansas shot 52 percent in first frame, the Jayhawks forced the Ichabods to miss 25 of their 30 first-half shots to take a commanding 42-13 lead to the lockerroom.
Scoring was slower to start the second half as nearly five minutes ticked away before free throws from Ellis and Mason saw KU eclipse 50 points. The ‘Svi for Three’ call from the PA announcer rang out for the first of, what the Jayhawk fan base hopes many, times this season after freshman guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk connected from three-point territory, and the Jayhawks found themselves ahead by 30 points, 59-29.
Firmly in command, Kansas utilized various lineups for the rest of the night – all of which are likely to appear in the regular season. Graham spent some time in the point guard spot and fired off five late points, before Evan Manning, Tyler Self and Josh Pollard replaced the backcourt for the final minutes of the 85-53 win.
Kansas will conclude exhibition play when it plays host to Emporia State on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. (Central) and the game can be seen on Jayhawk IMG Television, ESPN Full Court and ESPN3 outside the state of Kansas. KU will then open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 14 against UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m. That contest is also on the Jayhawk IMG Television, ESPN Full Court and ESPN3 outside the state of Kansas.
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KU STARTERS: So. Frank Mason, III, So. Wayne Selden, Jr., Fr. Devonte’ Graham, Jr. Jamari Traylor, Jr. Perry Ellis
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 37-3 (6-0 in exhibition play)
- Made Kansas 64-9 in exhibition games.
- Extended KU’s home exhibition winning streak to 41 games, dating back to the 1994 season.
- Upped Kansas’ all-time record against Washburn to 37-3 in favor of the Jayhawks, including 6-0 in exhibition games.
- Improved head coach Bill Self to a 32-2 record in exhibition games at Kansas, including 23-0 in home exhibition contests.
- Made KU 55-4 in exhibition games inside Allen Fieldhouse.
- For the fourth time in the last five exhibition contests, Kansas scored at least 85 points. The 32 point margin of victory marked the third 30+ point winning margin in the last five contests.
- KU led by 29 points at the break (42-13). When leading at the half last season, Kansas was a sparkling 22-3. The 13 points at the break would’ve qualified as the lowest scored against KU in a half last season.
- Six different Jayhawks drained threes in the first half and Kansas finished the game with nine made treys. During the 2013-14 season, Kansas delivered a season-best 10 triples vs. Iowa State (1/29/14).
- Kansas held Washburn to 16.7 percent (5-of-30) shooting from the field in the first half, thanks in part to seven blocked shots. Washburn made just two field goals over the final 11:45 of the first half. Kansas finished the game with nine blocked shots.
- All 11 Jayhawks who saw action in the first half scored first-half points, led by freshman F Cliff Alexander who scored 10 points off the bench. Junior G Evan Manning joined the scoring with a free throw in the second half to give Kansas points from 12 different players.
- Kansas used a 9-0 run to erase Washburn’s only lead of the game (2-1), a stretch early in the first half that saw the Jayhawks hit four consecutive field goals by four different players. The streak of four made buckets followed an 0-for-3 start.
- Sophomore G Brannen Greene and freshman F Cliff Alexander were the first players off the bench for Kansas, checking in at the 15:17 media timeout. It took Alexander less than 10 seconds to score his first bucket, a lay-up at 15:09.
- Frank Mason scored the first points for Kansas and the game, hitting the front end of a double-bonus opportunity at 19:04. Wayne Selden accounted for KU’s first field goal, a three-pointer at 17:31.
- Freshman F Cliff Alexander won the race to double digits, scoring his 10th point on an offensive put back with 5:37 left in the first half. Alexander drained five of his first six shot attempts. Washburn reached double digits 2:33 later with a little more than three minutes left in the half. The Chicago native finished with a game-high-tying 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
- Alexander swatted three Washburn shot attempts in the first half, to tie the fourth-best effort in exhibition play over the last 10 seasons.
- Alexander pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
- Sophomore G Frank Mason III became the game’s second scorer in double figures with a fast break lay-up with 8:49 left in the game. Mason chipped in 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting, including two three pointers.
- Mason III also led all players with seven assists and tied Landon Lucas as KU’s second-leading rebounder with six boards.
- Junior F Perry Ellis drained his first career exhibition three-pointer in the first half and has scored in all nine exhibition games he’s played in while at KU. Ellis was kept out of double figures for the first time in an exhibition game played in a country whose native language is English. Ellis had reached double figures in five straight exhibitions dating back to AMW France in Paris (8/11/12), but was held to nine Monday night.
POSTGAME QUOTES KANSAS
Q. Do you think you could be a real good defensive team?
BILL SELF: Looking at the first half, we were pretty active. You know, I don’t know if we can defend the block because they didn’t throw it inside very often, and you’ve got to be able to finish your possessions and be a good rebounding team, which that remains to be seen. But I think there are some things that are good about our guys that could eventually be a very good defensive team.
Q. There seem to be a lot of guys getting steals and creating havoc on defense?
BILL SELF: Yeah, not as many as we should, but I didn’t think we did anything the second half to do that, but the first half we created some havoc. They’re hard to pressure because they run five-man motion and they always have a pressure release. One of their big guys is always a pressure release. That’s a hard team to try to steal against. But I did think we did a good job in the first half of creating some havoc.
Q. Washburn head coach Bob Chipman thought he saw more effort, a little tougher pressure. Do you see that they can show you a little more even if it’s not completely what you want them to do, that they have a lot of want-to?
BILL SELF: Yeah, the first half especially. (The) Second half was such a fragmented game. I think we were in the double bonus with 16 (minutes) left and they were in the double bonus with probably 10 left. I know with 12 minutes left and when they had the under-12 timeout, both teams had already committed 18 fouls the second half, so it was fragmented the second half.
I thought that we played pretty tough the first half. But our big guys didn’t rebound. Perry (Ellis) gets one rebound in 20 minutes, and Frank (Mason III) was our leading defensive rebounder the first half. Those aren’t good things. Those are things we’ve got to get better at.
Q. At one time you had five guys over 6’5″ on the floor. How did that change the total offense?
BILL SELF: Well, it wasn’t very good when we did it. We played Wayne (Selden, Jr.) at the point on a couple of different times, and of course when we play him at the point we’re going to be 6’5″ will be the smallest guy we have. But Wayne is not really used to doing that a lot, and up until this past week we didn’t really anticipate a lot of situations where we’d do it a ton. I probably anticipated more situations where we’d play him at the 4 than we would at the 1, but now I see a lot of situations we’ll have to play him at the 1, at least for spot duty, so we need to get better at that.
Q. What factors played into your decision on who to play tonight?
BILL SELF: There were no factors. I was going to start all returning guys and then Brannen (Greene) was going to start. He didn’t do anything bad, so this is not a big deal, but I wanted him to play a little bit better defense yesterday, and we really probably didn’t get that done, so I started Devonte’ (Graham). I don’t know how it will go moving forward. Brannen has had a good last week, really good, and I think Svi (Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk) obviously is going to be a really good player when he figures it out. Kelly (Oubre, Jr.) has got to figure some things out, but he’s got a lot of talent. But right now I would probably feel most comfortable with Devonte’ and Frank and Wayne and maybe even Brannen from a standpoint of knowing what we’re trying to do. Those newcomers got to pick some stuff up and kind of understand what we’re trying to do. But they did fine tonight.
Q. What did you think of Cliff Alexander’s line for his first game?
BILL SELF: Cliff had a good line. But the whole thing is we’ve got a huge size advantage. We shoot 15 out of 33 shots the first half, I think, for threes, so that was not very smart at all. We just clipped off shots. We’ve got to learn to play through our bigs more.
Q. Is Brannen Greene okay?
BILL SELF: He got a concussion. I don’t want to say he’s okay or not okay, because I think we’ll definitely take the very cautious approach of when he can come back, and I don’t know when that will be yet. I certainly don’t anticipate him being back in the next couple of days, but I don’t know what that means moving forward.
Q. Washburn head coach Bob Chipman talked about you talking to their team yesterday. What was the message? And when somebody does that, how much does that help prepare a D-II team?
BILL SELF: Well, I think that obviously their schedule is hard, and — I didn’t know, did (Kyle) Wiggins get hurt? He tweaked his ankle? He didn’t play him, I don’t think, after he tweaked it the second half.
They play the best exhibition schedule in the country, you know. Their RPI strength of schedule would definitely be No. 1 of all Division II teams in the country.
All I did was just talk about playing together and liking each other and the little things it takes to win. If you really want to win, there are some sacrifices that have to be made. But I think the message was certainly one that Chip has already told them many times.
Q. With guys like Svi and Kelly, are there things they’re still figuring out?
BILL SELF: Like how to play? How to play, how to make easy plays. One thing about it, guys, a lot of times, want to have the ball in their hands, and we would rather them not to have the ball in their hands. Guys hang on to it too long. They’re looking to make a scoring play pass rather than just get the ball moving; (the) ball is sticking a little bit. Kelly could be a great defender and a great rebounder and Svi could be a great ball mover and obviously a really, really, really good shooter. I just don’t think we played to our strengths near as much as we should.
Q. It was a tough night from the free-throw line. Was that just first-game nerves?
BILL SELF: Yeah, I’m going to attribute it to lack of practice and first-game nerves for sure. We were awful from the line. We could have scored quite a few points if we’d have made our free throws. That’s on me. We’ve got to spend more time and work on it and drill it. You know, when you’ve got so much to get in, a lot of times that’s one of the things that you probably sacrifice a little bit. But guys have got to get in the gym on their own and work on some things, because we may not have a great free-throw shooting team, but certainly, we have the potential to have some really, really, really good free-throw shooters. Obviously, we’re not going to be a team that shoots 50 percent that often.
Q. I know this was smaller competition, but with Cliff’s rebounding ability, is that something that is already there?
BILL SELF: Yeah, but he goes after the ball pretty good and he’s becoming a better outlet passer and doing some good things that way. I’m getting the confidence in him to have him in there because he tries so hard. But if I was going to say who our two best rebounders are for certain, our two best rebounders are Landen and Cliff, and that doesn’t bode well for Mari (Jamari Traylor) and Perry. They’ve got to get where they’re as good of rebounders as those guys. When the ball is on the glass as a defensive rebounder, I think I probably have as much confidence in those two guys going after it as any of them.
Now, on the other end, Jamari is by far our best offensive rebounder, but I really want those two guys to attack the ball a lot better. I thought we played kind of soft tonight in that area.
Q. Were you pleased with the effort of the freshmen tonight?
BILL SELF: Effort? Yeah, I was pleased with everybody’s effort. (We) Didn’t play great, but I was certainly pleased with everybody’s effort. They (Washburn) scored 13 points the first half and that’s pretty good. They’re a hard team to pressure because of their motion. I thought that we looked pretty good defensively at times the first half, too. Second half I didn’t (think so), but first half I did.
Q. Were you surprised Cliff only had one foul? You said you were concerned about him staying out of foul trouble.
BILL SELF: One thing (was that), Chip didn’t throw it inside very much tonight, so yeah, I am surprised at that. I was shocked in the first half; did they get to the bonus in the first half? I don’t know that they got to the bonus the first half, and so that was a pleasant surprise to me that they didn’t do that.
Q. You were really aggressive tonight, got going early. Did it feel good?
CLIFF ALEXANDER: Yeah. I felt good going into the game. Coach told me to come out and play my hardest, and that’s what I did.
Q. Frank, can you tell the difference in the way this team plays defense compared to last year?
FRANK MASON III: Right now I’d say it’s kind of too early, but I can say this year’s defensive team, we try a little harder than last year. That’s what I think.
Q. Frank, what did you think about Cliff tonight?
FRANK MASON III: Cliff was great the first half. He got in, got offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds and he even scored inside. He was a big plus tonight.
Q. Cliff, did you have any nerves at all?
CLIFF ALEXANDER: Yeah, I had the butterflies going into the game. I loosened up when the game started.
Q. How bad were the nerves out there?
CLIFF ALEXANDER: They weren’t that bad. I dealt with it pretty good and just tried to keep my mind off it.
Q. Coach joked about you fouling a lot in practice. How did you stay away from that?
CLIFF ALEXANDER: Just by walling up, playing great defense in the post and moving my feet.
Q. Devonte’, any nerves for you?
DEVONTE’ GRAHAM: Any nerves? Of course, I was a little nervous before the game, but going out, warming up, it all went away quick.
Q. Coach talked about how there’s a lot of room to grow. Do you feel like you’re kind of scratching the surface?
CLIFF ALEXANDER: It hasn’t even started yet. I think by the end of the season, I could potentially reach my peak.
Q. What do you think that peak could be?
CLIFF ALEXANDER: Better post moves, getting stronger and a consistent jump shot.
Q. Frank, do you think it’s a little more want-to in the defense that we’re seeing with this group?
FRANK MASON III: Yeah, I would say so because that’s something coach emphasizes every day at practice because we’re young. Obviously, the game is faster at the college level. He just emphasized that a lot with the young guys and with the returning players. That’s something we try to take pride in and do a better job of.
Q. Did you sense from last year that the defense needed to take a step up team-wise?
FRANK MASON III: I would say so because I didn’t think we were great last year on the defensive end. We had Joel (Embiid) inside that protected the rim and kind of made us look a little better on the defensive end, but we don’t have that size this year, so guys have to keep their man in front of them and play great team defense.
Q. Devonte’, where do you feel like you guys are right now as a freshman class?
DEVONTE’ GRAHAM: I don’t think we’re where we are capable of being, but we’re young, so we’ve got to grow and go through the freshmen pains and just keep our heads up. Coach (Self) is going to get on us. He expects us to make mistakes and just keep playing and go to the next play.
Q. Coach talked about playing multiple ball handlers. When you’re out there with Frank, is it just whoever gets the ball can push or how have you guys developed together as a combination?
DEVONTE’ GRAHAM: We try to play fast, so it’s get the rebound and whoever they outlet it to we’re pushing and trying to get transition buckets.
Q. Frank, how do you think the team ran the fast break tonight?
FRANK MASON III: I think we’re pretty solid. We could have been better. We pitched the ball ahead a little bit, but we could have done a better job.
Q. The block where they called the foul on you, do you think you were pretty aggressive on that play?
CLIFF ALEXANDER: Yeah, I think it was a clean block.
POSTGAME QUOTES WASHBURN
Q: Opening Statement
BOB CHIPMAN: I told Coach Self, I said, I hope we gave you just enough to break a sweat there. I mean, they were so dominant. Wow, were they good. The offense, they moved the ball so well and the spacing is unbelievable. Of course the big kids, you saw it in there, looked unstoppable. We looked helpless there at times. We tried to guard them man, wanted to stay with the man as much as we could, but I don’t know if zone would have mattered. They shot it well, they moved it ball.
They’ve got a great group, and they’re so big and strong, and they play so well together. Coach does such a great job. We just appreciate the opportunity. The second half, we got into the mix a little bit. I thought we played a little bit better, but boy, early when we did get a shot up and missed it, I don’t know, they had seven or eight blocks and that really, really got us going. I think we had five field goals, one assist the first half, and we’re not that bad. I mean, their defense was incredible, working really hard there. Coach Self deserves a lot of credit. They just took us out of everything we wanted to do. I mean, they were amazing. Looks like another fun year for Kansas basketball to me. Wow. They looked good to me.
Q. What did you see from Korey Fisher?
BOB CHIPMAN: My Korey? Korey is not afraid. I mean, Korey can score. He did it against Oklahoma last year when we played them. He’s an offensive machine. He’s not afraid to shoot it. You know, we’re pretty new at the guard spot and some of our first-game guards there, Turon (Parker), Algie (Kelly), looked like they had first game jitters and, of course, KU’s defense had a lot to do with it, but Korey had to be our leading scorer. I haven’t looked at the stats yet. Kind of afraid to look at the stats.
Q. When you see all that depth, what’s that like to see that kind of depth that they have?
BOB CHIPMAN: Oh, it’s incredible. It looked machine-like already, the way they moved the ball and their spacing. Coach has done an incredible job with them, as it seems like he always does.
But the thing I liked about them is all the new guys and the returners, I mean, they’re so unselfish. Just happy to move the ball and get somebody a better shot. They seem to have the strength, the unselfishness, and the thing that I saw this year from them that maybe I didn’t see a couple years ago is defensively. I mean, they were just playing so hard. I think the depth is what you talked about, that allows you to play at that special level on defense and just keep throwing guys in there and keep guys fresh.
Very impressive. I want to thank Coach Self. He came out last night when we were shooting around and talked to our team, did a great job talking to our guys. It didn’t look like it today, but I guarantee you it’s going to be worth five victories for us, Coach Self coming out and talking to our group. He spent about 15 minutes. What an incredible guy. Just appreciate the Jayhawks, wish we could have given them a little bit better run the first half, but that’s basketball. They did that to us.
Q. How much of this game do you take into Norman, Oklahoma?
BOB CHIPMAN: A couple guards, sprained ankle, an Achilles, and we’re just trying to play at a high level with them. The injury thing is the only thing that really scares you. We’ll take bits and pieces from that. I mean, they really abused us that first half, but I think we’ll concentrate more in the second half when we’re in the fight. You always want to take bits and pieces and build on that, hey, what did we do well that second half, this is what we’ve got to do.
We’ll just kind of watch the second half, get ready for Norman. I think it’s going to be more of the same. I think Oklahoma, I don’t know if they’re this deep, but Oklahoma is going to be really good this year and, of course, K-State on Sunday.
Great opportunity for us to really give guys an opportunity out there and try and come together as a group.
Q. Korey, what’s the game plan when you come into a situation like this?
KOREY FISHER: I just say play harder. I mean, KU is a great team. Bill Self has a great team. He always does. And for guys that are small in stature I guess you could say, we just have to play tougher. First half kind of got out of hand, but I thought we played really hard second half, and we’ve just got to build from that.
Q. Jeremy, can you talk about what it’s like to go up against Alexander inside?
JEREMY LICKTEIG: Mean, those are big guys. I tried to give him a pump fake once and he semi-shot out to the stands. It’s always good to play against those guys. They’ve obviously got a lot of skill along with a lot of talent. But it’s good preparation for us because we’re used to playing against each other, beating on each other and we’re going right into the belly of the beast playing one of the best teams in the nation.
It hurts a little bit now and we definitely know what our weaknesses are, but this will give us a little bit of insight into the best preparation we can get.
Q. You guys play a Big 12 schedule almost; what’s that experience like? What’s that do for you?
KOREY FISHER: Well, it lets us really see where we are as far as us going into our season, just to see where we are.
JEREMY LICKTEIG: I’ll just add on Korey; I mean, we’re going to have three tough games, obviously KU, Oklahoma and K-State, two top 25 teams. K-State arguably could be up there, yeah, and then after that it’s more of a way to gauge ourselves. If we get deep in a hole like that we can’t go away from each other. We’ve got to stick as a team. I think that’s the biggest thing you can say is stay together as a team.
Q. Obviously you have history here. How much does that play into it when you’re out there or how much does it play into it right now?
KOREY FISHER: Well, you want to go out and do good, of course win the game. Those guys are big. It was tough, but we just wanted to get out and just wanted to get out and at least play hard.
JEREMY LICKTEIG: When you’re in the moment, you can’t let it get to you. I played against Terry in high school. You play against good talent in AAU, so when you’re in the moment of the game you can’t get caught up, but now looking back it’s a good experience, but it’s really important to just take it as a normal basketball game and get those struggles out of the way.
Q. What do you think you’ll remember the most about this whole experience?
KOREY FISHER: I’d definitely say it’s just the atmosphere. As a native Kansan, you always watch KU on TV, but you don’t really grasp what it’s like until you get on the court and notice like — it might not be the biggest stadium, but as far as I can tell it’s probably one of the loudest.
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