Big Men Lead No. 4/5 Kansas to 89-66 Exhibition Win Over Pitt State
LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 4/5 Kansas men’s basketball opened the 2015-16 season with a 89-66 exhibition win over Pittsburg State on Wednesday night inside historic Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks relied on 46 points from their big men to notch the 43rd-straight exhibition win in Lawrence.
Senior forward Perry Ellis led the way with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 15 second-half points, in 24 minutes of action. Senior forward Hunter Mickelson tallied 10 points on 5-of-6 from the field with six rebounds in just 13 minutes. Freshman forward Carlton Bragg Jr., made his debut as a Jayhawk with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 21 minutes.
Bragg made a balanced impact for the Jayhawks from start to finish. From the first play in the game, the Cleveland, Ohio, product showed the sheer versatility of his game on a high-low pass from the top of the key to assist Mickelson with an easy layup on the blocks at 14:30 mark of the first half. Bragg followed-up with a fast-break alley-oop dunk from a half-court pass from Frank Mason III which gave KU a 12-11 lead.
Kansas drained consecutive 3-pointers to jump-start an 18-5 run in the last five minutes of the first half and makeup for a sluggish start, which featured nine combined fouls in the first five minutes of the game.
|Carlton Bragg Jr.|
Wayne Selden Jr. started the run by draining KU’s first 3-pointer of the night at the 4:36 mark of the first half, followed by a trey from Brannen Greene on the next possession to give KU a 31-23 lead. Kansas went into the locker room with a 46-28 halftime lead after Lagerald Vick snuck in a last-second fast break layup to give KU its 18-point lead, which also marked the freshman’s first basket inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Pitt State’s Josiah Gustafson was the first player to double figures with a lay-up at 19:08 in the second half. Gustafson finished with 20 points, while Jaxon Holden registered 12 points on four of the Gorillas’ seven 3-pointers on the night.
Offense came quicker and more efficient to the Jayhawks in the second half. After taking nearly two minutes for Kansas to score its opening bucket of the game, the Jayhawks opened the second half at a much quicker pace as Mason notched a layup in the first 20 seconds. KU shot 55.9 percent in the second half, 13.8 percentage points higher than the opening period.
Kansas led by as many as 25 points with 2:43 left in the game, enabling Coach Bill Self to clear the bench and use all 14 game-eligible Jayhawks on the roster, including the career debut for sophomore walk-on Clay Young.
A pair of dunks from Bragg in the last five minutes of the game closed out the Jayhawks’43rd straight exhibition victory at Allen Fieldhouse by a score of 89-66.
Kansas will continue exhibition play when it hosts Fort Hays State on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. Central. The game will be on the Jayhawk IMG Television Network and ESPN3 outside the state of Kansas. KU will host Northern Colorado on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. The contest is part of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.
- Made Kansas 76-9 in exhibition games.
- Extended KU’s home exhibition winning streak to 43 games, dating back to the 1994 season.
- Upped Kansas’ all-time record against Pittsburg State to 11-0 in favor of the Jayhawks, including a 7-0 mark in exhibition games.
- Improved head coach Bill Self to a 44-2 record in exhibition games at Kansas, including 25-0 in home exhibition contests.
- Made KU 57-4 in exhibition games inside Allen Fieldhouse.
TEAM NOTES (GAME)
- Kansas held Pitt State to 28.2 percent (20-of-71) shooting from the field while shooting a 48.6 percent mark of their own – nearly four points higher than last year’s season-average.
- A total of 14 different players saw minutes in Wednesday night’s win with 10 of those players contributing points.
- The Jayhawks held advantages in points in the paint (56-22), bench points (41-22), total rebounds (55-45), defensive rebounds (36-26) and tied the Gorillas in offensive rebounds (19).
TEAM NOTES (SECOND HALF)
- It took nearly two minutes for Kansas to score its opening bucket of the game, but the Jayhawks opened the second half at a much quicker pace as Mason notched a lay-up in the first 20 seconds.
- Pitt State’s Josiah Gustafson was the first player to double figures with a lay-up at 19:08 in the second half, but he was quickly joined by KU’s Bragg, who followed with a jumper at 18:46.
- Ellis scored nine points on 3-of-4 shooting in the first four minutes of the second half, including a three-pointer from the wing. He led all players with 15 points in the game’s second period.
- Kansas shot 55.9 percent in the second half, 13.8 percentage points higher than the opening period.
- Kansas led by as many as 25 points with 2:43 left in the game.
TEAM NOTES (FIRST HALF)
- Traylor scored KU’s first four points, including the team’s first basket on a leaner in the paint at the 18:19 mark of the first half. Traylor was also KU’s first player off the bench Wednesday night.
- Eight of KU’s first nine points came from front court reserves, as Traylor and Hunter Mickelsonpoured in four each. Furthermore, 15 of the first 18 points scored for Kansas came from the bigs before the back court found its stroke.
- The smallest man on the floor for Kansas, Mason, registered the team’s first block of the game, redirecting a fast break lay-up attempt at the 16:52 mark of the first half. Kansas swatted five total PSU shots in the first 20 minutes.
- After the first 10 minutes of Wednesday night’s contest there were six ties and eight lead changes and Kansas held a slim 17-16 edge. KU got it’s 17th point on an Ellis free throw at 10:21 and didn’t give up the lead for the rest of the game.
- Back-to-back threes from Selden and Greene gave Kansas what was then its largest lead of the first half at 31-23 (8 points) with 4:16 left in the first half. The treys were the Jayhawks’ first of the game, having missed on the first eight attempts.
- The triples were in the middle of a 5-for-6 shooting run for the Jayhawks that helped raise the team’s shooting percentage for the first half to 42.1 percent. Prior to the surge, Kansas was shooting just 31.8 percent (7-for-22) from the field.
- Kansas pushed the advantage to as many as 18 on a buzzer-beating lay-up from Vick before the intermission. The Jayhawks closed the first half on a 9-0 run over the last 2:01.
- KU’s Bragg and Mickelson led the team with eight first half points.
- F Perry Ellis poured in a game-high 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 15 in the second half. Entering the 2015-16 regular season Ellis has 13 career games of 20 or more points, including four last season. It’s the second game of Ellis’ exhibition career with 20 or more points, and second-highest total after scoring 23 against Russia in the World University games.
- Ellis also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds in the win, the only player to register a double-double. Entering the 2015-16 regular season, he has 13 career double doubles, including seven last season. The 12 boards tied his exhibition career-high, established during the European trip in 2012.
- G Devonte’ Graham may have missed the mark shooting (1-of-6 from the field), but he filled up the stat sheet with eight rebounds and a game-high eight assists. He also tied F Jamari Traylorfor the KU lead with two steals. Graham’s rebounds were his first in exhibition play after being held off the glass in last year’s preseason exhibition contests.
- G Frank Mason III chipped in 14 points to tie F Carlton Bragg for the second-highest total among Jayhawks. Mason is no stranger to double figures in exhibition contests having now tallied 12 double-digit efforts in 15 career exhibition games.
- Bragg did his damage on 7-of-12 shooting and added six rebounds.
- F Hunter Mickelson recorded his fifth double-digit scoring effort in 13 KU exhibition games by contributing 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Mickelson contributed a game-high four blocks, his career-best in exhibition play.
“We were bad because we missed shots and bad because they beat us to all the loose balls to start the game. I thought Pitt State played great because what they did was they exposed our big wings because they were driving on them. Nobody played great but defensively, which I think you should always look at first, it was very evident that we don’t slide very well. We didn’t keep anybody in front of us. They shot too many layups, rotations and not guarding actions right. We can correct that stuff but we are not athletic enough on the perimeter with our wings to not be energized. Like I told our team, we’re better off playing Jamari (Traylor) or Perry (Ellis) at the three position because they can slide but that’s the thing that bothers me. The other day that we played, we were 27 of 44 in our scrimmage from three. Today we went 4 of 19 and everybody’s hesitant and this and that. So then it’s fool’s gold because you don’t play as hard defensively because everything is going in but this was great for us tonight to learn to be exposed what our weaknesses are because if you make shots tonight, then you’re not exposed. I thought it was good Pitt State played so well. I thought it was disappointing that we didn’t play better but looking at it, I think there are a lot of correctable things but the biggest thing is we got to play with more energy and athleticism.”
On Play of individual players:
“Landen (Lucas) was nicked up, that’s why he didn’t play. He turned his ankle pretty severely yesterday but wanted to play tonight. The best way to guard them is to switch on-ball screens. That would be the best way, so with Hunter (Mickelson) and Landen in there, we didn’t do that. We need to practice getting back. We need to practice how to react when getting beat that was good for us. I did think Hunter, Mari, Carlton (Bragg) and Perry, after he got going early, played pretty well. I thought Frank (Mason) was average. I thought Devonte’ Graham was below average until the second half. So you can look at and say things were okay, and your point guard ended up creating a lot of pace, so what was wrong with the offense? We didn’t make shots. We didn’t have good ball movement. The ball stuck a little bit and of course we couldn’t guard anybody. So if you can’t guard anybody, it’s hard to get out and run. It was frustrating but it was good for us to see because I think those little guards exposed us tonight.”
On new rules and officiating:
“I thought there was less contact. Something that is a little nerve racking is that Devonte’ and Frank both got in foul trouble. We got to have one of those guys in the game at least. We are certainly better with both in the game. That’s a little frustrating. Frank’s second foul wasn’t smart but we will learn from that. His charge there late was a bad play but we will learn but certainly trapping the post, doing some things different defensively is something we are going to have to do.”
Kansas senior forward Perry Ellis
On getting leaner as a team:
“(Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Performance Andrea) Hudy does a great job with the team. Over time, working with her just does that, we just become better athletes.”
On improving his ball-handling performance:
“I have been doing a lot of ball-handling drills. I’ve always been able to dribble pretty well. The main thing is just having confidence in myself and getting rebounds and pushing it out of the break. It’s been going well so far. I’m going to continue doing that since Coach (Self) wants that.”
On head coach Bill Self’s message to the team after the game:
“He showed us what we need to work on. We missed shots and when you’re missing shots, you have to get stops. That was the message. We have to get better defensively.”
On expanding his perimeter game throughout the off-season:
“I worked on it. When the time comes, with the position that I’m in, I’m just going to try to knock down shots. My ball handling has gotten a lot better also, so I’m looking to push it (up the floor) more. I feel like my overall game has gotten better.”
Kansas sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham
On the team’s shooting:
“Coach Self was telling us we’re going to have games where we just don’t shoot the ball well. Tonight was one of those nights. It was nothing unusual, we’re not going to make all of the shots we take. We just have to play better defensively.”
On the team’s slow start:
“We weren’t making shots. We were taking too many jump shots. We needed to play inside-out more and feed the bigs more. We started off pretty slow.”
On the play of senior forward Perry Ellis:
“He had a rough start, but he got going when we started giving him the ball. He was finishing, getting and-ones, playing through contact and running the floor really well. He was bringing the ball up and that was helping us play at the fast pace we want.”
On freshman forward Carlton Bragg, Jr.:
“He’s going to be a good player. People don’t really realize it yet, but how hard he plays and the energy he brings to the court, he’s always talking and he’s active. Kind of like how I was, he kind of took that role from me, that I had last year. You don’t expect him to pull up on that open jump shot, he can handle the ball and he rebounds, he goes after every loose ball.”
Kansas freshman forward Carlton Bragg Jr.
On his expectations for the game:
“I just wanted to play hard. I had a lot of excitement going on, but I just wanted to play my role on the team.”
On his excitement to play his first collegiate game:
“That’s just my personality. I was just excited for my first college game in Allen Fieldhouse.”
On any nerves he had before playing:
“I couldn’t sleep (last night). I went to sleep around 1 a.m., got up a little bit earlier than I usually do. It was just a lot of nerves. (The nerves) were like high school, but it’s a lot different. It was my first college game. It was very good though.”
On the energy he brought off of the bench:
“It was just staying positive. My high school coach always told me to keep a smile on my face and never change. I think I bring a lot of energy to the team.”
On playing well in tandem with senior forward Perry Ellis:
“Coach (Bill Self) put him around the three and I like to run the floor a lot. With both of us running the floor, he (Self) saw something we didn’t see and it just connected.”
Pittsburg State Head Coach Kevin Muff
On being pleased with performance in the first half:
“Yea, I was except for the run at the end of the half. I thought we did some really good things. And within that I thought we played extremely hard, but we didn’t execute very well. And Im sure you’ll here that from coach self on their end as well. It was kind of an ugly game, but I thought both teams competed and played hard and I was very proud of our guys. They continued to battle. Just disappointed how the half ended, but that’s going to happen in this place with coach self and a team as good as KU is, but I was very pleased.”
On playing exhibition games:
“I think there is a feeling out period.”
“Our job is to come in here and give them as good of a game as we can.”
On Perry Ellis:
“I love him. Number one he’s a Kansas guy. Being a Kansas native and seeing a guy do that well…Just highly skilled, great hands, and a great feel for the game and understanding. I want nothing but the best for that man, but mainly because of the type of person that he is. He does it with class. He does it the right way. Handles himself extremely well on the floor through adversity and he really doesn’t change his expression—which I like. He’ll be an asset and a weapon for them. I just love the way he plays. Joe had a tough task guarding him tonight and he knew that going in. But he’s (Perry) a first class kid.”
On Perry being leaner and more explosive:
“I thought he was versus two years ago when I was here. I watch KU every time they’re on tv because I love good basketball. I think he is leaner. He’s definitely lost some weight. I think that will allow him to put it on the deck, especially in a face up situation. If he can square guys up and they put any hands on him its automatic. So he really doesn’t have to be a basket type guy, and I think that plays right into his wheelhouse.
On playing in Allen Fieldhouse:
“I’d do this every year if could. I wish we could have that opportunity. It’s more for my players. Just to be able to experience something that I was blessed enough to experience as a player. Just to be in this arena and in this setting. I want my players to have that opportunity. I think it’s great for them. It’s something that they can pass down to their kids. They can keep the video now and show them that they played in front of this crowd and what a great crowd it is, and what a great environment. It kind of embodies the history of basketball–so what better place to be. We are very blessed and fortunate to be able to play here.”
On rule changes:
“I don’t know. It’s going to take me a while to get used to. I really don’t have an opinion on it. When you look at the box score and you see 100 rebounds. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before at the end of a game. Maybe that’s happened before.”
“It was a battle and you see other rebounds being up there for grabs. It kind of stands out to me. I’ll have to think on that a bit.”
“It’s going to take me a while to get use to and what I can really argue with and what I can’t, and try to battle for my player.”
On Carlton Bragg Jr.:
“I think he’s got a great upside to him. I think he’s got a great future. He’s going to be a guy that continues to develop for them and get better as the season goes on too.”
Pittsburg State guard Josiah Gustafson
On his mindset against Perry Ellis:
“You have to attack him. The game plan was to deny him so if he doesn’t touch the ball, I don’t have to guard him. We carried that out by putting him in a lot of high-low situations so that it wasn’t hard to deny him, when he catches it he’s already in the post. We try to take him out of what he does best. Being a D2 school like this you just go in and try to compete and give it everything you’ve got.”
On how they played today:
“It’s a game and our ultimate goal is to win every game we play and so that was the mindset going in, though obviously that didn’t happen. The fact that we played them even for a lot of the game and we gave up a couple of big runs at the end of the first half but for the most part we played even. We just want to get better moving on into our regular season.
On the size difference and Kansas depth of bench:
“They have an unlimited amount of big bodies and it’s different for us but then again that just comes from conditioning and just battling and having the heart and never backing down from anybody.
On Kansas offense:
“It’s tough. It takes a little bit to adjust to the officiating and what you can get away with especially with how many moving screens are being called this year. Then the speed of the game takes a little bit for us just because we’ve been practicing against ourselves and this is a whole different level. But once we figured it out I think we did a good job and our bigs did a good job of making quick moves when they got the ball and being efficient.
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