Kansas Outlasts UC Santa Barbara in Opener, 69-59
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Four different Jayhawks in double-figures proved too tough to guard as fifth-ranked Kansas held off the 2014 Big West Player of the Year and UC Santa Barbara on opening night inside Allen Fieldhouse, 69-59.
Led by a double-double effort from returning veteran Perry Ellis, Kansas (1-0) needed a balanced effort to offset the Gauchos (0-1). The junior forward finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, good for his seventh career double-double. It was rookie point guard Devonte’ Graham, however, that led the Jayhawks on the scoreboard. He tallied 14 points coming off the bench and was the only player in double-figures by halftime.
UCSB’s Alan Williams, the nation’s best rebounder in 2013-14, proved his 2014 Big West Player of the Year status on Friday. He came to Lawrence with 31 double-doubles in the last two years and added another one in the first game of his senior season. With a sold-out crowd against him, he led the floor with 22 points and 13 rebounds, the only Gaucho to put up double-figures in either category.
Slated to finish second in the Big West Conference, a veteran UCSB team held Kansas to its lowest scoring output in a season opener since the 2004 season and kept the home team to a 41.5 percent shooting night. Although both Jayhawk point guards totaled 26 points between them, KU tallied more turnovers (16) than assists (11).
Starting point guard Frank Mason III completed his night with 12 points and fellow sophomore guard Wayne Selden, Jr. rounded out the leaderboard with 10 points. Graham provided the spark from the bench with 10 points in the first half, and freshman forward Cliff Alexander contributed the same benefit with eight of his nine points in the second frame.
Junior forward Jamari Traylor and sophomore guard Brannen Greene each earned their way onto the opening day starting lineup, with Traylor making his second career start and Greene, his first. Traylor came away with only two points, but made a solid impact with 10 rebounds.
Two early blocks by Traylor saved a pair of sure-to-be Gaucho layups to start the game, a much-needed boost as the low score stayed locked at 7-7 until a single Gaucho free throw gave them the one-point lead. Seven minutes into the game, the teams had combined for a meager 15 points as they struggled to get over the 30 percent shooting mark.
Meanwhile, Alexander joined Traylor’s block party. He swatted a Michael Bryson layup into the stands, getting a roar of approval from the packed house. Midway through the half, Kansas had just one more field goal (4) than blocked shots (3). Head coach Bill Self looked for combinations to create points and to offset the constant foul count as Mason, Graham and Alexander twice found themselves on the wrong side of the whistle not yet 10 minutes in. Out of the eight-minute timeout, the bleak start had the Jayhawks trailing, 15-14.
Finally, a scorer emerged. Graham accounted for three of the four-straight buckets Kansas used to break loose on a 9-0 run. Graham continued to put points on the board after converting a pair of free throws to help KU build its largest cushion of the half, 25-17. His last second layup made Graham the only double-digit scorer in the first period and sent KU to the locker room with a 31-23 lead.
Halftime acted as a reset button, albeit a temporary one at first. In the first possession of the second half, Selden was fouled shooting a three from the corner and the free throws that resulted pushed KU to its first double-digit lead of the night. From there, the Jayhawks’ patented transition game kicked in. Ellis and Traylor swiped passes and sent them up the court for breakaway layups to Graham and Mason.
UCSB ignored KU’s frantic tempo and deafening crowd. In fact, the Gauchos came out of their early timeout to rattle off 10-straight points thanks to consecutive three’s by freshman Gabe Vincent and senior Zalmico Harmon to trim their deficit to two, 39-37.
Kansas reset again. The different lineups that checked in and out of the game provided depth the Gauchos could not match. This time it was the trio of freshman guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Mason and Alexander that ultimately broke the game open, joining forces for 19 points in less than five minutes. When they finished their streak, Kansas was sitting more comfortably at 58-43.
While the Gauchos made sure the Jayhawks never got completely cozy, hitting late threes and getting clutch baskets from Williams, Kansas held up. Selden tacked on the last four points to seal the 69-59 win.
Kansas will face top-ranked Kentucky in the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The game will be televised on ESPN and will be the second of a doubleheader (Duke-Michigan State) with an approximate start time of 8 p.m. (Central). KU will return home on Monday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. to host Rider in the opening round of the Orlando Classic. The Rider game will be televised on Jayhawk IMG TV/ESPN3/ESPN Full Court. KU will then head to Orlando, Florida, for bracket play in the Orlando Classic. KU will face Rhode Island at 1:30 p.m. (Central) on Thanksgiving Day and either Tennessee or Santa Clara the following day, Nov. 28, at 11 a.m. The event concludes on Sunday, Nov. 30.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): So. G Frank Mason, III (1/4), So. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (1/36), So. G Brannen Greene (1/1), Jr. F Perry Ellis (1/38), Jr. F Jamari Traylor, (1/2)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 2-0
ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (213-consecutive sellout)
- Gave the Jayhawks their 42nd-consecutive Allen Fieldhouse season-opening victory dating back to the 1973-74 season.
- Marked KU’s 13th-straight season-opening victory dating back to 2001-02.
- Gave the Jayhawks an all-time record of 714-109 in Allen Fieldhouse.
- Increased KU’s record against UC Santa Barbara to 2-0 all-time.
- Improved head coach Bill Self to a 12-0 record in season opening games at Kansas. While also increasing his coaching record at Kansas to 326-99 and 533-174 overall.
- Improved KU’s all-time record to 2,127-822.
- KU’s 69 points were the lowest scored in a season-opener since the Jayhawks scored 68 points against Vermont in the opening game of the 2004-05 season.
- The Jayhawks’ 10-point victory over the Gauchos on Friday was the lowest season-opening victory since a seven-point margin of victory over Vermont on Nov. 19, 2004 (68-61).
- Twelve seconds into the 2014-15 season, junior F Perry Ellis scored the first points for the Jayhawks by way of a jump-hook in the lane giving Kansas a 2-0 advantage.
- Thanks to two technical free throws with 13:28 to play in the first half, UCSB took its first lead of the game 8-7, but the one-point lead proved to be the Gauchos’ largest lead of the game.
- Through 13 minutes of play at the under eight-minute timeout with 7:47 remaining, the two teams had combined for 14 fouls. Those 14 fouls tied Kansas’ score at that point in the game and were one more point than the Gauchos had on the board (14-13).
- Both teams opened their respective seasons with dismal shooting performances. Through the first 10 minutes of play neither squad was shooting above 37 percent, Kansas was 3-for-10 and UCSB was 4-for-11.
- Made shots were hard to come by in the first portion of the game, however turnovers were plentiful. Both the Jayhawks and Gauchos had committed an equal five turnovers through nine minutes of play.
- At one point, midway through the first half, Kansas had forced UC Santa Barbara into three turnovers in just 26 seconds of play, but the Jayhawks were unable to convert the mishaps into points scoring six total points on seven UCSB turnovers.
- With KU trailing by one point, 16-15, with 7:35 remaining in the half, freshman G Devonte’ Graham caught a hot hand shooting the ball, converting jump shots on three of the next four possessions and assisting in a sophomore G Brannen Greene three-point make giving KU its largest lead of eight points (23-15).
- Led by Graham, KU caught fire from the field down the stretch in the first half. Prior to Graham’s output, the Jayhawks were shooting 30 percent from the field, but with 3:36 to play in the first, KU was shooting 50 percent from the floor (9-18).
- During the hot shooting stretch, the Jayhawks’ defense also tightened up holding the Gauchos to convert 6-of-21 shots from the field at the three-minute mark of the first half, including a late stretch of finding success on one of their last six field goal attempts.
- After seeing their lead trimmed to six points within two minutes of the beginning of the second half, the Jayhawks doubled their advantage streaking-out on a 6-0 run over 52 seconds to take a 12-point lead, 39-27, with 17:12 to play. Four of the six points during that span were fast break buckets converted from two UCSB turnovers.
- Kansas couldn’t manage to pull far enough away from the Gauchos who climbed back into the game after trailing by 12 points. UCSB knocked home five-of-six attempts from the field to trail by two points, 39-37, after consecutive three-point shots.
- Despite the run by the Gauchos, the Jayhawks forged on opening up a 15-point lead at the nine-minute mark of the second half after converting four-of-five field goals and holding Santa Barbara to make one of its last six attempts from the field. KU’s run was highlighted by an emphatic Alexander dunk that was followed up by a mid-range jumper from the freshman.
- Freshman G Devonte’ Graham’s first points in a KU uniform came by way of a jump shot to the right of the elbow with 7:35 to play in the first half.
- After 20 minutes of play, Graham was the only player on the floor to score in double digits with 10 points at the half.
- Only six Jayhawks have scored more points than Graham in their debut since the 1989-90 season. Graham finished the game with 14 points. The six former players who scored more than Graham in their first official game were: Xavier Henry 27, Josh Selby 21, Andrew Wiggins 16 and Perry Ellis, Mario Chalmers, Greg Ostertag each scored 15.
- With 14:53 to play in the first half, freshman F Cliff Alexander checked into the game for the first time in his career. Less than 45 seconds later the highly-touted recruit snagged his first-career rebound.
- Alexander recorded his first point as a Jayhawk on a free throw with 12:59 remaining in the first half.
- After being held in check from the field in the first half, Alexander’s first points from the floor as a Jayhawk were off of a jump shot with 13:01 to play in the game. Alexander scored a total of nine points in the contest.
- Like Alexander, freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr. also immediately impacted the stat sheet after logging a rebound within 19 seconds checking into the for the first time.
- Freshman G Svi Mykhailiuk knocked in two free throws for the first points of his KU career at the 11:31 mark of the second half. The freshman from the Ukraine registered a tip in just over a minute later for his first field goal with 10:04 to play.
- Junior F Perry Ellis didn’t record a double-double through 12 games in 2013-14, but showed his maturity with double figure points and rebounds in the opener against the Gauchos with 13 points and 10 rebounds. It was also Ellis’ seventh career game with a double- double.
- Ellis also turned in the 31st game of his career with 10 or more points after scoring 13 against UCSB.
- Ellis also notched his eighth game with 10 or more rebounds.
- Junior F Jamari Traylor completed the game with 10 rebounds – the second time in his career he has grabbed 10 or more boards.
POSTGAME QUOTES // Kansas
Q. What did you think of Devonte’ Graham’s play tonight?
COACH SELF: I thought that after he made a couple bad plays the first time he was in there and after he subbed back in, he’s the best player in the game the first half. I thought he was good considering Frank (Mason III) was out. And he did some good things, made some shots. We definitely needed him. I thought that he and Cliff (Alexander) bailed us out as anybody else.
Q. Where was Kelly Oubre, Jr., tonight?
COACH SELF: What do you mean?
Q. Why did he only play four minutes?
COACH SELF: It was a coaches’ decision. We were just trying to do what was best for our team. It’s not a knock to Kelly, he’s just young.
Q. You said that you expected UC Santa Barbara to come in and play with you guys. Did tonight’s game play out like you expected it to?
COACH SELF: I don’t know if it played out that way, I didn’t think we could guard the big fellow (Alan Williams). I thought we actually did a pretty good job of guarding him. We went soft a little bit there his last four post touches, but we didn’t do anything to impede his progress or anything. So he’s a good player, but he still got his — but I thought they would give us some problems. And I didn’t think we would probably play any better than that defensively or rebound the ball, but I thought we would be better offensively.
Q. Did you see your team play with the defensive mindset you like to see in the first half?
COACH SELF: We guarded them, held them to 23 (points) and turned them over some and dominated the glass in the second half. I could be wrong, but I think we were even on the glass and they shoot 50 percent. So, obviously, we didn’t go as good a job in the second half, but it’s a little misleading, because the first half, even though we guarded them well, we put them on the free-throw line. In the second half, we didn’t guard them tight enough to foul, so obviously, they didn’t shoot free throws the second half.
Q. Do you foresee balanced scoring throughout the season?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I think so. I think Perry (Ellis) should be our leading scorer, hands down. I think he will be. But we don’t have a dominant guy who is going to get us 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds) a night, so we need to have balance. But I think Perry can average 16 or 18. I really believe that. We’ve got to get some other guys shooting the ball a little better and making some plays. But the guy that goes unnoticed, I thought Jamari (Traylor) played great, but he scored two points. I thought he was great. He made a couple of bonehead plays down the stretch, but I thought Jamari gave us great energy.
Q. Would you say he (Traylor) was your best rebounder tonight?
COACH SELF: Well, I think he and Perry both got 10. Jamari had a harder job tonight to rebound, because he was guarding the big fellow (Williams). So his job would be to block him off, even if he doesn’t go after the ball and let somebody else get it. But they both rebounded the ball pretty well.
Q. Why was Williams so hard to guard?
COACH SELF: Well, he weighs about 265 pounds and the longer you play the game, the slower the game becomes. If you watch, he would get pressure, he would go post up, opposite the ball, and then wait for the ball to be in the scoring area, and then he would post up and stuff. But he had 14 points with about four minutes left. So we did a pretty good job on him for the most part. But he’s good. He’s got touch and if he gets to his left shoulder, which we let him way too much, he’s great at creating space by just a little bump, back you down and create a little bump. It takes away your jump and we’re not big enough to play dead behind him. So he’s good, he’s a good player. I can understand why there’s a lot of NBA teams that came to watch him tonight.
Q. What did you think about Devonte’s flagrant 1? And then drawing that charge?
COACH SELF: Yeah, it was good play to draw the charge. It’s probably maybe a little acting on that one, but the guy weighs 270 pounds and you weigh 170, you’re going to look like you fall hard. But the way the rules are, when a guy’s pressuring you like that and he’s leading with his nose, you can’t take the ball high, you’ve got to take it low. And with the way the rules are, that will be a good lesson to learn for him.
Q. Did you think that coming in, Devonte’ would be this poised and this game-ready?
COACH SELF: I did. I thought Devonte’ was the most ready to play of all the freshmen. But he’s played the most competition. He’s a year older. He played at prep school, where they played a lot of big games. I thought he was the most ready to play as far as having an understanding. I’m not saying he’s the most talented, but it didn’t surprise me that he played well.
Q. Do you think that is due to the competition that Brewster Academy plays?
COACH SELF: Yeah, it’s a combination of things. You give Svi (Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk) three more years or two more years and you give Kelly one more year or Cliff one more year, they’re going to be better players, too. He’s a year ahead of those guys. He’s a year older than those guys.
Q. Do you think your guys have an understanding between the two exhibition games and what tonight was all about?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I think so. We need to win games. We’re not going to play great all the time. We need to develop an identity and I think a lot of times the identity that you don’t want to develop, like we did last year, is when you score easy. You you’re not going to win unless you score, but when you score easy a lot of times, it takes your edge off. We had a team at Illinois that shot 41 percent for the year and won the league in the Big 10, because they knew that if the other team scored there was a great chance we were going to get beat. Even though I don’t want to think negatively, we need to have that same mindset, without question, to really take more pride on that end and win ugly games. Win muddy games. And tonight was certainly one of those games.
Q. Cliff had a good mid-range jumper tonight. What did you think?
COACH SELF: No, no, no — it was a good shot, Cliff. Cliff acted like he knew what he was doing when he took them. But Cliff played well. He got two quick fouls early, but I thought Cliff did some good things.
One thing Cliff can do is that he can go after the ball. I thought he was pretty good going after the ball above the rim.
Q. With the Kentucky game just a few days away now, do you like that early-season barometer that the Champions Classic provides?
COACH SELF: Well, we played in it three years and I liked it one year and it sucked two years. But the competition is so tough; we played Kentucky when they were No. 1, we played Duke when they were like 4 or 3 last year, if I’m not mistaken. Kentucky is No. 1, obviously, this year. And the year that we got beat by Michigan State, I think they were like top-5 or 6. So it’s a great barometer. But the thing that will be real interesting for us is, there’s a whole different level we’ve got to play to be ready to compete against a really good team. So it’s the bottom-line business. It will be, I don’t want to say it will be just a toughness game, because it’s not, but when you’re as big as them and a lot of times looking at their rebounding stats, their best offense is just getting on the glass and go run get it. We’re going to have to do a much better job of being tougher in rotation rebounding and really paying attention to that because they’re really good. They’re long and they’re going to be hard to score against. Cal (John Calipari, Kentucky head coach) is a good defensive coach and they’ve got so much length. So we need to be sure we’re really good rebounding on the defensive end ourselves.
Q. What did you think of the runs by each team in the game?
COACH SELF: I think every team (does that), that’s the way we play too. You’ve got to be patient and then when you get a chance to have three or four good possessions in a row, you really take advantage of it.
There’s been numerous times since we have been here that you’re up 52-50 and you go on and have a good three minutes and all of a sudden it’s 62-50 and the game’s basically over. That’s the way teams should play at home; don’t let teams score easy, but if you’re not playing well, just wait for that time until you get a little run to kind of put yourself out there. But there’s a lot of games that we have won where we have been like that. What we didn’t do tonight when we got up 14 a couple of times, we didn’t make the right plays or got careless, whatnot and allowed them to get back in.
Q. A lot of those runs seemed to come from your bench tonight. What did you think?
COACH SELF: I thought our bench was the best tonight. I thought our bench was better than our starters tonight. At least a few players were. So I think that’s true.
Q. You’ve talked a lot about the depth of this team. Did that kind of affirm your belief in that?
COACH SELF: No, it’s one game. I think so. We played 11 guys tonight and two of them didn’t play a lot, but nine of them played quite a bit, nine of them played significant minutes. Of course, in the first half, we had Cliff and Landen (Lucas) both getting two fouls early. That gave everybody a chance to play a little more. But we’re going to be a deep team before it’s all said and done.
Q. Larry Brown predicted an undefeated season for Kentucky. Is that unlike Larry to do something like that?
COACH SELF: No; who knows what Larry’s doing. So he may be mad at Cal about something. I haven’t seen them enough, but they’re a team that could obviously make a run like that. And they’ve got more veterans than what you think with some of their returning guys. I would say this: if they were to play every game they play, they’ll probably be favored. If you’re a favored every game, the chances are probably pretty good you’re going to win. So they’re going to have a chance to be a team that could have an unbelievable record. I don’t know what philosophy there is, but the goal is to win the last game and sometimes it’s best to have that confidence and win a lot and sometimes it it’s best to go through some stuff where you have to kind of find yourself and grind through it. But they’re going to have, they will have a terrific record, that’s for sure.
Q: Is this what you guys expected tonight (from UCSB)?
Perry Ellis: They have some good players, as we have seen, and it definitely was a hard fought game.
Q: What do you think about Devonte’ Graham’s play tonight?
Perry Ellis: He came in and stepped up. That’s what we need from our freshmen, and he did a great job. We are looking forward to him to keep doing that.
Q: Why did you guys get off to a slow start?
Perry Ellis: It happens sometimes. In games, sometimes you get slow starts, but the key, like coach is always telling us, is to play defense and I feel that we did pretty good.
Q: Did you sense the offense was struggling?
Devonte’ Graham: Well, yeah, I had two fouls early and coach just told me you got to keep playing, be aggressive. So I just tried to do that, be aggressive.
Q: Did the game get more comfortable to you as time when on?
Devonte’ Graham: Definitely a little stress, but getting the ball to the hoop is always a good thing.
Q: How did home-court advantage effect you guys?
Devonte’ Graham: The crowd is always a good thing, especially when you’re at home. It’s like having extra players on the court.
But I think it was good that we had this kind of game, a tight game, because our next opponent is definitely not going to be a blowout. So we need to get used to playing in close games.
Q: Did you have fun playing defense?
Devonte’ Graham: Definitely. We love playing defense.
Q: Are you guys ready for Kentucky?
Perry Ellis: There’s still a lot of things we need to work on. We’re just going into practice tomorrow and seeing what coach says and just try to keep learning as a team and go from there.
Q: What was Coach Self’s reaction after being called for elbowing a player?
Devonte’ Graham: He wasn’t close to happy. He was mad because he talked about that, when you rip through it, you always got to rip low. And I just made a mental mistake, went high, and they called an elbow. It was a technical foul and he got two shots and the ball back.
So he was a little frustrated with me.
Q: What did you think of Alan Williams’ performance tonight?
Perry Ellis: He’s a great player, especially the right-hand hook and rebounding and has a lot of energy. I thought he did real good tonight.
Q: Did you think that you would be playing this much and making this much of an impact?
Devonte’ Graham: Well, I knew coming in that I had an opportunity to play some big minutes. Just work hard and do what I’m supposed to do and the opportunity presents itself. So I tried to take advantage of it.
Q: Do you like taking the ball coast-to-coast?
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk: Yeah I’m trying to do that still.
Q: What did you think of Cliff Alexander’s aggressiveness tonight?
Perry Ellis: Cliff, he’s an energy guy and he definitely gives our team a lot of energy. And it’s great to see that, especially giving him a lot of confidence going into the next game also.
Q: What do you think about your team’s defense tonight?
Devonte’ Graham: Our defense? We were a little slow. We weren’t really jumping passes like we usually are, but I feel like we played pretty well.
We have to rebound the ball better. But overall, we played pretty good defense all game.
Q: Tell me about Alan Williams’ performance tonight?
Perry Ellis: Coach was telling us that he’s a great player and I give him props. He came right in and competed and did really well tonight. I think he’s a great player.
Q: After your recruiting process, did you think you could contribute to the team right away?
Devonte’ Graham: Yeah, the national attention, I felt, I never really paid attention to it. But I always knew I had confidence in my support system and coaches. They always boost confidence in us and they know that we can compete, that’s why they recruited us.
Q: Did your time at your prep school help prepare you more for the college game?
Devonte’ Graham: Yeah, definitely. That really prepared me, I think, more than if I would have came straight out of Raleigh. I don’t think I would have been as prepared if I didn’t have that chance.
Q: How was tonight different compared to the exhibition games?
Devonte’ Graham: One, the game was tight and the crowd was a lot better, but — I don’t know, yeah, it was a different feel.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk: The crowd was louder and there was a lot of energy there.
Q: Did you guys worry about looking ahead to Kentucky?
Perry Ellis: No, I don’t think so. I think we all just focused on just the first game. I think we’re going to be a team that takes it game-by-game.
Q: You guys are considered underdogs against Kentucky – do you like being an underdog?
Perry Ellis: I feel like we just have to go out there and compete. It’s something I don’t think we really worry about. Just looking at that aspect of it.
But I just feel like we’re just two great teams going at it. We’re just going to try to do the best we can.
Q: Do you wish you could have played a more complete game as a team?
Devonte’ Graham: Well, there are games, it’s all about runs, up-and-down.
I think coach tells us, like when we come off the bench, we got to have a lot of energy, so I think that kind of sparks some of the runs. Just him telling us, like we need to be energetic, get out there, be aggressive.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk: Like Devonte’ said, the players coming in off the bench, they need to keep their heads in the game and bring more energy and be effective. That’s what (Coach Self) tells us.
POSTGAME QUOTES // UC Santa Barbara
Q: Opening Statement
COACH WILLIAMS: I didn’t realize so much of our West Coast media came back here to Lawrence. It’s good to see everybody.We played a very good team. I watched (ESPN analyst) talk about the fact that he picked them in the Final Four. And so the team that’s picked in the Final Four and you’re playing at their house, I thought our guys found a way to scrap and stay in the game. That’s the best you can say when you don’t shoot the ball well, and you put a team at the free throw line 18 more times than you. Those two things are a recipe for getting your rear end handed to you by about 25.
So the fact that we played them to 10, in some realms, is pretty good.
The other realm, we were just disappointed with things we had worked on very hard in terms of taking care of the ball better, we didn’t go a very good job of that. And we just did not shoot the three ball well. That made it awful difficult on us.They have a chance to be really, really special. Obviously, you guys all know this. Their length, their athletic, they defend, their physical, and there’s really not a whole lot of weakness on the defensive end of that basketball team. They’re really good.
So, I don’t know if we’ll play anybody the rest of the year that defends the ball quite the way they do or defends as well as that. What I am pleased about is, I think our big fellow showed that he can play. I’m pleased with that. Just like he showed the last year and the year before. Having 22 and 13 going against two big guys most of the time. And with us not knocking down threes, it allowed them the luxury to play even more off on to him. So there is pressure on to us knock down threes, to help spread the floor. We tried different ways to get the floor spread, really didn’t do a very good job until later in the game. Giving him some good isolation looks where he got to play a little bit. Outside of that, Bill Self does an awful good job, something you guys know too well.
Q: On Devonte’ Graham’s game?
COACH WILLIAMS: He did a really good job. He’s an awful nice player. I thought him making shots really helped them. He started knocking down a few shots for them and it really helped a great deal.
He’s got such a nice feel for the game. He got the crowd definitely into the game. I thought they capitalized when the crowd got into the game both halves.
They did a good job, at the same time, I like the fact that we regained our composure and cut back down the lead. But Graham’s a very special player. They knew that when they got him.
Q. What type of things could you improve on from tonight?
COACH WILLIAMS: I thought we turned the ball over and that led to some easy buckets and that hurts.
We didn’t rebound the ball very well in the second half, so they got several second shots. It is pretty tough to consistently defend when you don’t make shots.
I thought we wilted a little bit when we couldn’t make shots. You saw our guys’ heads drop down, and I thought they capitalized on that. So we made some turnover mistakes that gave them quick transition buckets and then they capitalized on some offensive rebounds and put-backs.
Q: How did you adjust to KU’s defense?
COACH WILLIAMS: I’m relatively pleased with our shot selection. Some weren’t so good, but for the most part, we got pretty good shots.
I thought they sped us up with the ball and we made some mistakes. I encouraged our guys to get further from the basket.
I wanted to actually spread the floor even more with the hope to get some penetration, or if they’re really going to chase us that far, to hope to give Alan a little more room to go to work. They’re just awful good. I mean, they’re good.
Q: What was it like to play against KU’s defense?
John Green: They’re a very good defensive team. We knew they were going to pressure the ball, try to get in the paint and try to get easy steals. We had a couple of silly turnovers. Take those away and the free-throw battle away, I think we would have still been in the game. But I felt like we were a little rushed at times and when we capitalized and stayed patient on offense by getting the ball inside and getting the shots we needed to, just didn’t make enough.
Q: Did the atmosphere contribute to the slow start?
Alan Williams: Well obviously being in front of 16,000, it’s a different atmosphere. It’s something that you really never get to experience too much until you come to this home of college basketball. It was a great opportunity for us and it was a great environment. But to answer your question, I don’t think it changed the way we shot the ball. I think we just didn’t make shots. You had guys out there you know uncharacteristically missing shots. That’s something that we’re not accustomed to. We’re a better shooting basketball team than we showed out there today.
Q: What was it like emotionally getting to play after three years (of being injured)?
John Green: Growing up as a little kid, it’s a dream come true. Why not let this be your first game? At Allen Fieldhouse to play the number five team in the nation, I felt great out there. First game really being back as a Division I player. I fouled out, I take full blame for that. But I think that I had a good feel for the game for missing three seasons with multiple injuries. I’m only going to get better and coaches know they still believe in me and my players still believe in me. But I love the atmosphere, I love the crowd, I love my team and I just thought it was a great game. It was a good battle between two good teams.
Q: You are putting up All-American numbers, were you a national recruit?
Alan Williams: I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I didn’t have a lot of offers throughout high school.
Q. Why do you think that is?
Alan Williams: Undersized maybe. Didn’t have the right exposure. Whatever it may be. The coaching staff here at UCSB saw something different and they have been there for me through everything. First, I’m just extremely blessed to play for Coach Williams and to play for this team and to play for the university that’s as well recognized as UCSB and just get a good education from there and play basketball against schools like this is awesome.
Q: What was it like being matched up against Cliff Alexander?
Alan Williams: I think him knocking down those shots that’s what people wanted to see from him. It was a bit tiring, but at the same time my teammates gave me some pretty good looks and I found some open teammates and I think that’s what the thing is to bring harmony. Somebody is going to be open and we just have to keep working on cutting and moving without the basketball when I get double-teamed.
Q: What kind of potential to you think Cliff has?
Alan Williams: I heard about him, but didn’t know much about him until today. Obviously, the guys here are pretty high on him. I think he has a good chance. He’s long, athletic and he’s shown that he can knock down that 15 footer.
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