Kansas Rebounds Against Rider, 87-60
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Junior forward Perry Ellis dove through the lane to steal an inbounds pass and polished off his work with a three-point play to put the Jayhawks up by 30 in the second half, sending No. 11/12 Kansas to its Thanksgiving trip with a win against Rider inside Allen Fieldhouse Monday night, 87-60.
Kansas (2-1) and Rider (2-2) kicked off the on-campus, non-bracketed portion of the Orlando Classic. The Jayhawks now head to Florida to start the three-game tournament on Thanksgiving Day against Rhode Island. Although KU certainly wanted to get a good start in the event, the Jayhawks were equally concerned with wiping away the bitter taste left by the lopsided loss to top-ranked Kentucky their last time out. A 20-for-30 shooting effort in the first half and 60 percent (31-for-52) for the evening did the trick.
Three different Jayhawks were in double-figures by halftime, including Ellis, who tied for the game-high with 17 points. He missed just once all night from the field and connected on seven of his 10 free throws. Sophomore guard Brannen Greene poured in 10 points over the final 20 minutes to tie Ellis with a career-best 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Freshman forward Cliff Alexander joined him off the bench with 10 points, making all four of his shots in the first half.
Brannen Greene scored 10 of his career-
high 17 points in the second half.Sophomore forward Landen Lucas and freshman guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk earned their first career starts and enjoyed the opportunity with career-high scoring efforts. Mykhailiuk turned in his first multi-three night en route to 10 points, while Lucas was a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor for nine points. Sophomore guard Wayne Selden, Jr. was held scoreless for the first time in his time at Kansas, but dished out a personal-best nine assists. Fellow sophomore guard Frank Mason III added seven points, four assists and matched Mykhailiuk with a team-best five boards.
On the opposing bench, sophomore forward Xavier Lundy led the Broncs off the bench with 15 points, while junior guard Teddy Okereafor tallied 10. Facing yet another seven-footer this season, the Jayhawks held senior center Matt Lopez to just six points.
The Jayhawks started the game looking to bury their last offensive performance against top-ranked Kentucky, firing out to a 10-2 lead in the first four minutes. When Selden hit Alexander for the alley-oop dunk that left the whole goal – and Allen Fieldhouse – rocking, the Jayhawks were shooting nearly 65 percent. Alexander kept the hot start rolling, going 4-for-4 in the first half, including a three-point play and KU’s first block of the night.
Off and running in no time, Kansas’ offense was accompanied nicely by a defensive effort that didn’t allow the Broncs to reach double-figures until the 8:05 mark. Thanks to back-to-back buckets from Mykhailiuk sandwiched between a one-handed slam by Ellis, KU reached the 20-point margin as halftime approached, 38-15. Meeting and beating their last-game scoring output, KU nailed six-straight baskets on their way to the lockerroom. Shooting a much-improved 67 percent, the Jayhawks took a commanding 51-22 lead to the break.
Rider came out and swiped six of the first nine points of the second half, but the trend was a brief one as Ellis’ three-point play put the Jayhawks up by 30 and out of reach with 15 minutes still on the clock. Ellis continued to lead the way, but his teammates distributed the workload fairly evenly to maintain the margin. Greene and Mason uncorked three-pointers and Traylor added four second-half points.
With the game on lockdown well before the waning moments, junior forward Hunter Mickelson collected his first points as a Jayhawk. In fact, he scored the last six for the Jayhawks to wrap up the 87-60 win.
Kansas will 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.
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SERIES INFO: Kansas improved to 3-0 against Rider
ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (214th-consecutive sellout)
- Made the Jayhawks 2-1 for the fourth time in Bill Self’s 12 seasons at Kansas.
- Improved Kansas to 62-8 in games following a rare loss under Self, including 38 rebound wins at Allen Fieldhouse.
- Kept Kansas a sparkling 3-0 against Rider and moved the Jayhawks to 14-1 all-time against current members of the MAAC.
- Marked its second victory in historic Allen Fieldhouse this season and improved the program to 716-109 all-time, including 177-9 under Self’s watch, in the venue’s 60th season.
- Improved Self to 327-70 at Kansas and 534-175 overall.
- Made KU’s all-time record 2,128-823.
- The Jayhawk bench outscored the starters 44-43 in the lopsided victory. It was the first time that the reserves outscored the starters since the Kansas bench tallied 49 of 82 points in a win over Texas Tech (3/5/14). KU had just two games with 40+ bench points a year ago.
- Kansas swatted a season-best six shot attempts, including two by Junior F Jamari Traylor.
- Kansas pushed its lead to as many as 34 points, twice, in the second half – the first after back-to-back threes from sophomore guards Brannen Green and Frank Mason capped an 8-0 run at 6:30 (74-40).
- Kansas used points from three different players to bolt out to a 6-0 lead in the game’s first three minutes.
- KU got a boost from Freshman F Cliff Alexander near the midpoint of the first half. The talented big man came off the bench to score nine straight and 10 of 12 unanswered Jayhawk points to help Kansas push the lead to 19 with 8:34 to play.
- Freshman G Svi Mykhailiuk turned in his own freshman frenzy by scoring seven of nine straight for Kansas between 5:23 and 3:24 to push KU’s lead to 26.
- The Jayhawks scorched the nets into the break, making the last six shot attempts to extend the lead to a first-half-best 29 points at the break, 55-22. Eight different players scored in the first half, with Ellis (11), Alexander (10) and Mykhailiuk (10) all reaching double figures.
- The 51 first half points were the most by Kansas in any half this season and most since the Jayhawks poured in 53 points at TCU last season (1/25/14).
- Junior F Perry Ellis took advantage of a more favorable match-up in the paint, contributing a game-high-tying 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and added 7-of-10 from the free throw line.
- Sophomore G Brannen Greene scored 10 points in the second half and finished tied with Ellis for the game-high with 17 points. The scoring output set a new career-high in just 19 minutes played, topping his 10 point effort at K-State (2/10/14) last season.
- Freshman F Cliff Alexander turned in an inspired first half performance with 10 points off the bench, making all four shot attempts and a pair of free throws. Alexander was the first Jayhawk to reach double figures.
- Freshman G Svi Mykhailiuk became one of the youngest players to start a game for Kansas under Bill Self (12 seasons), when he took the floor at 17 years, 5 months and 15 days Monday night. Other notable youngsters include Julian Wright – 18 years, 8 months and 6 days at first start – and Andrew Wiggins – 18 years, 8 months, 17 days at first start.
- Mykhailiuk scored 10 points in the first half, including four of KU’s nine first half second-chance points.
- Sophomore G Wayne Selden dished out seven assists in the first half alone to tie his career-best (vs. Texas, 2/22/14), then added two more in the second half to set a new high mark (9). A starter in all 38 games of his KU career, Selden was held without points for the first time.
- Sophomore F Landen Lucas took full advantage of his first career start and notched a new career-best nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field.
- Junior F Hunter Mickelson scored the Jayhawks’ last three buckets to finish with six points, his highest point total at Kansas.
POSTGAME QUOTES KANSAS
Q. After Kentucky, is this something you guys needed — not needed, but it felt good?
BILL SELF: That’s the best half of basketball we’ve played this year. Of course we’ve only played in three games, but that was pretty good. The first half I thought we were on point in most areas, and second half we didn’t play with the same intensity or focus, but yeah, it was better in the first half.
Q. Did you have a couple real good practices?
BILL SELF: I don’t know about real good, but we got better, working on the things we need to work on, but I think we had some decent practices coming into this (game). But real good would be a little bit of an exaggeration, but certainly a renewed focus.
Q. Cliff Alexander gave you a lot in the first half and then was it a defensive mistake at the beginning of the second half that got him taken out?
BILL SELF: It was a couple of things, but I just wanted to see how he would do starting a half or starting a game. When he started the second half, I didn’t think he did very well. But it was the whole team, let’s not just put it on him. I’d say the whole team was definitely a step slower in the second half.
Q. What do you think it was in the second half when you said guys were a step slower?
BILL SELF: I think to be real candid, probably immaturity, playing to the score as opposed to playing to the possession. You should play to win every possession. Good teams do that. You screw up late, you don’t look at the score and say, well, we’re up 25 so it’s not that big a deal. Good teams play to win every possession, and we didn’t play to win every possession the second half.
Q. Did Wayne Selden Jr., coming into this game, set an example on keeping the ball moving?
BILL SELF: Wayne has actually done a good job with that for the most part. I thought he had seven dimes and I believe no turnovers the first half, and the ball moved, and he made some really nice passes the second half, too. But I think that he’s learning how to play (all the guard positions) — even when he is a point guard, he needs to get rid of it and then get back and play defense. He’s more patient and trying to do what we want to do, as opposed to some guys who are very impatient; when it doesn’t work initially, they just shut it down. Wayne is good enough to keep trying to do what we’re trying to do because he’s old enough to know that it’ll work if you just keep doing it. I think that’s a good thing. He’s been a good example for the other guys.
Q. Does it concern you at all that he didn’t score?
BILL SELF: No, I don’t want to say it’s a concern. Not very often does your starting 2 guard or 3 not score a point, but tonight he didn’t look to shoot the ball. I think a lot of it is that he didn’t look to shoot it, but he looked to be aggressive, to drive to pass. I’m not going to worry about that, but that can’t happen very often. That’s a formula for probably not a real good night if one of your best players doesn’t score. But it wasn’t because of poor play, it was because he kind of chose to be someone different tonight.
Q. How would you assess the offense overall?
BILL SELF: I thought the first half we had 13 post touches. Against Kentucky the first half we had zero. Zero times we threw it to the post, and we’ve always been a team that plays inside out. So I would say it was much better. Of course we didn’t have to score over two seven-footers and we weren’t really pressured out, but I thought the guys did do a much better job of looking inside and feeding those guys. I think the ball movement was a lot better and we actually screened a little better, too.
Q. Were you a little better at driving to pass instead of driving to shoot tonight?
BILL SELF: Yeah, a lot better. You saw a lot of that tonight.
Q. Talk about having ball movers. Is Svi (Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk) one of the better guys at that?
BILL SELF: Svi is a really good ball mover. He can be a ball mover and a great shooter, too, and he’s going to be a great shooter. He just hasn’t got on a roll yet. But I think that Svi probably understands better than anybody, maybe because of playing European ball, that if you can’t do anything with the ball when you catch it, it needs to move, and he is the best we have at doing that.
Q. Do you like what Brannen Greene gave you down the stretch?
BILL SELF: Yeah, Brannen was active and he did some good things. He scored 17 points in 19 minutes, which is really good. I’d like to see him be able to guard his man a little bit better. But I think he did some good things that hopefully will give him some confidence to play some major minutes in Orlando.
Q. What about Perry Ellis tonight?
BILL SELF: I thought Perry played good. He was aggressive the first half. He attacked the rim one time really well. He gets three rebounds in 26 minutes, so he’s getting one rebound every nine minutes. In a game like that, he should be getting one rebound every four minutes. He’s got to do a better job of rebounding the ball. When it really gets down to it, if you’re going to be a good rebounding team, of course your guards need to clean up, but still, your big guys who play the majority of the minutes have got to go get numbers. They’ve got to go get balls. All our big guys have got to do a better job with that.
Q. Will Devonte’ Graham be okay for the Orlando Classic?
BILL SELF: Yeah, he could have played tonight. We practiced him yesterday and today, but I made the decision, with the doctors, that we weren’t going to play him unless we needed him. He’ll shoot full speed tomorrow and practice Wednesday, and then I don’t see a reason why he won’t be available. I don’t know if he’ll play 20 minutes, but I can’t believe he won’t be available on Thursday.
Q. How did Graham’s injury happen?
BILL SELF: It happened right the first play when he first checked in (to the Kentucky game), diving for that ball. Two guys collided and dove for the ball. It was right when he first checked in, so he was hurt and kept playing with it. They went back and checked it out and said he can play. So he showed some toughness being out there, but the longer it went on, the stiffer it became. But he’s close to being okay.
Q. Do you think this is a team that can use game reps playing three times in four days? What do you think about playing so much this week?
BILL SELF: Well, I think it’ll be good for us, I do. I think it’ll be good to go down there and have to focus on scouting reports with short turnaround times and all those things that we don’t understand yet. I mean, we are not a really high IQ basketball group when it comes to studying what helps us win. I mean, with the big fellow tonight, okay, whatever you do, you can’t let him turn left shoulder, and the first three baskets he gets he turns left shoulder. Those are the kind of things that we really have to hunker down on and get better at. I think through scouting reports and short turnarounds, those will put pressure on the guys to have to know more stuff. But we’ve got to do a better job with those type of things.
Q. Did you like this starting lineup, kind of mixed and matched?
BILL SELF: Yeah, I did. The whole thing is if everybody was responsible off the court, we’d probably have more of the same starting lineup every time. And I don’t mean doing anything bad, but we’ve got to tighten some things up. I see a lot of slippage on the court and I think there’s a correlation to being responsible off it, too. I’d like to see us settle in on a starting five, but I have a hard time starting guys who are late to tutoring. I can’t do it, and that’s kind of where that is right now. Hopefully we’ll tighten some things up because if we let them go now, I know it’s going to be something that will haunt us later. We’ve got to eliminate those things. We’ve got to become more responsible as a group.
Q. Do you think it’s hard for a freshman to know that you’re not going to budge, even if the older guys say he’s not changing?
BILL SELF: Oh, I think it’s really difficult for guys to understand that. I think it’s difficult for guys that have been here two or three years to understand that, too. The whole thing is, to me, there’s a right and a wrong way to play every possession regardless if the ball goes in or not. After you hang 40 on somebody, it’s nice to see the ball go in, okay. I understand that. But some of the most frustrating things to me are that people equate playing well to actually scoring points, and to me that’s the most ridiculous thing ever.
You know, if five guys start and played the whole game and they had the ball half the time and each guy had it the same amount of time, the most you’ll have it is four minutes. The most, if you play every minute, there are 36 minutes that you don’t have the ball. To me, it’s just as important to play without the ball as it is with the ball and maybe more so. I don’t think everybody totally understands that yet. We’ll get there, but we’re just really young right now in that line of thinking.
Q. You had some lineups kind of late where Svi was bringing the ball up. Is that more of a factor with Devonte’ being out?
BILL SELF: I think it’s more of a factor of Devonte’ being out, but yeah, he (Svi) can do that. Frank (Mason III) wasn’t in and Wayne wasn’t in, but yeah, I think that’s more a factor of that (Graham being out).
Q. Do you think you guys are going to need to play more first halves like you did tonight to beat those better teams like Florida and Iowa State and Texas?
BILL SELF: Yeah, we’re going to have to play better both halves, but tonight we were pretty good in the first half. We were a pretty good team play in the first half. In the second half we weren’t as good of a team. There are not very many teams out there this early in the season that can not lose focus, not lose intensity, not play to the score, those sorts of things. But the things that I like is back when we won some really big games, over the 12 years or 11 years prior to this, when guys get the stat sheet and the first thing they look at is “Okay, my guy had 13 and he only had four at half?” That’s the first thing they look at as opposed to “What did I do?” That’s the mindset we’ve got to get if we’re going to be a really good team.
I don’t feel like guys are sitting around talking about, “Hey, when you do this, if we switch this, this will work better.” I don’t see us thinking like that. I see us just going out there, having fun, just doing our deal and not paying attention to what really gives your team the best chance to win.
You know, the most talented guys don’t give your team the best chance to win. The guys that play the best together give your team the best chance to win. We’ve got a lot of talented guys that if we can just buy into (what we’re trying to do) and we can just hunker down on a few things, tighten a few things up, I think this could be a really fun team to watch and coach. But everybody has to be on the same page. If you’re playing less than 20 minutes a game and you’re a young kid, don’t you make the most of every minute you’re out there and play it like it should be played? I don’t think that we did that tonight. I think we definitely took the foot off the gas.
Q. Do you have an early read on Rhode Island coming up, a big win for them?
BILL SELF: Well, they played a good team and beat a good team. Nebraska, I think, was ranked No. 21 when they played them. One of their guards, I think, went for 26 or 28 against a really good defensive team in a low-scoring game. But they’re good. They attack the glass, very active. They’ve done a really good job there in a short amount of time, Danny (Hurley) and his staff. They’re a good team. We obviously didn’t get an easy draw for the first game.
Q. Are you guys going to do anything fun while in Orlando or treat it like a total business trip?
BILL SELF: I think since we have a day off, we’re going to allow them to eat on Saturday and then if things are going well, we may let them walk outside for 15 or 20 minutes. Yeah, we’re going to have a chance to do some things, but Saturday will be the off day.
Q. Perry, were you anxious to get back out there after Kentucky and finally put that behind you?
PERRY ELLIS: Yeah, we definitely were anxious. We’ve been working and had some pretty tough practices, so we were definitely ready to get out there and get after it.
Q. You guys have had a tough stretch, the UC Santa Barbara and then the Kentucky game. How good does it feel to get a game like this under your belt?
PERRY ELLIS: I mean, it’s always good. The fans were always there to cheer us on and just to get that confidence back up. To get a game (like that) under your belt always helps with confidence.
Q. Brannen, you had 17 points in 19 minutes tonight. What was working for you?
BRANNEN GREENE: I was just playing within the system, taking good open shots. That’s pretty much it. It’s simple.
Q. Brannen, we asked you about the offense the other day. Did it flow a little bit better overall today?
BRANNEN GREENE: Yeah, I felt like we paid more attention to details and our spacing was better, which opened up some of our options. We were able to feed the post a lot more. As you could see in the first half, Cliff and Perry were able to get easy buckets. I definitely think it worked out for the better.
Q. Can you guys talk about being more aggressive tonight? Perry, you really attacked the rim, and Brannen shot without hesitation most of the time. Was that kind of a theme for tonight?
PERRY ELLIS: Yeah, it definitely was, but the key thing was defense. I felt like we did a great job in the first half, but the second half wasn’t as good. But I feel like the first half we really got after it and really improved.
Q. What do you think it was in the second half that kind of slowed you guys down a little bit?
PERRY ELLIS: I mean, I don’t know. We just kind of stopped and we took our foot off the gas I guess you could say, and we can’t do that. We have to learn that we have to complete the full game to become a better team.
Q. Perry, what were some of the key points that Coach emphasized on offense the last few days? Do you feel like it was better today?
PERRY ELLIS: The key was just moving the ball. We were moving the ball real well the last couple practices, and it’s been going well.
Q. Brannen, Wayne Selden, Jr., didn’t have any points, but he had nine assists. Did it feel like he was kind of facilitating stuff out there?
BRANNEN GREENE: Yeah, in practice the last couple days, he’s been taking that as a focus, to facilitate more. I feel like with him and Perry, also being one of our team leaders, they’ve got to set the example for these young guys, and I think that’s what Wayne was trying to do. He’s more so trying to make a statement, ‘I don’t have to score, get rid of the ball, pass it.’ As you could see, he made a number of very good passes, but that’s the result of us running our offense right, too.
Q. Cliff, are you excited to see what kind of numbers you can put up once you earn more playing time?
CLIFF ALEXANDER: Yeah, I will just get out there and do what I need to do and do what Coach asks me to do.
Q. Brannen, were you ready to play this game after the Kentucky loss?
BRANNEN GREENE: I was definitely ready to play this game. I think we all were, though. I mean, coming after a game like that, that should never happen, and I feel like we just were get to get another game under our belt. We were just ready to get out there on the floor again and play and make the corrections, see it as a team.
Q. Perry, after the Kentucky game the leadership of this team kind of came into question. Is that something you take personally?
PERRY ELLIS: I mean, it definitely is. I’m one of the older guys here, just trying to get better at that, becoming a leader. It’s kind of out of my character, talking and stuff, but there’s other ways I can do that, other ways I can really show and pick my spots to be vocal.
Q. Brannen, you guys are going to play three games the rest of the week. Do you think this team can maybe use a lot of game reps?
BRANNEN GREENE: Yeah, for sure. As you said, we have three games coming up this week, so it’ll be important to focus in on what we do in the games and also in practice. We won’t have as much practice time, but when we get into practice just continue to keep getting better and continue to do what we’ve got to do. We know what we have to do. We know where we need to make improvements from tonight, and we do have improvements we need from tonight, so we’ll just keep working.
Q. Perry, did Coach challenge you and Wayne a lot this week?
PERRY ELLIS: Yeah, he challenged all of us. He challenged all of us as a team, just to come together and be one team, one unit. He challenged all of us.
Q. How did you feel you played?
PERRY ELLIS: I felt I played pretty well. I’ve got to continue being aggressive and just keep doing what Coach wants us to do.
Q. Brannen, do you think Perry and Wayne are taking it upon themselves, like you said?
BRANNEN GREENE: I mean, our loss to Kentucky wasn’t on Wayne and Perry at all. It’s more of a team thing. They can’t do it by themselves, we can’t do it without Perry and Wayne. It’s more of a team thing, it’s not Wayne and Perry doing something by themselves. It’s all of us as a team and being our leaders and leading us and leading the young guys. I mean, yeah, they’ve taken it upon themselves to do better with Wayne having nine assists, Perry coming out, being aggressive, attacking the rim, ferocious dunk, but it’s all of us, it’s a team. It’s a collective effort.
POSTGAME QUOTES RIDER
KEVIN BAGGETT: Coach Self said last week about he was hoping this was vodka. I certainly would hope the same the way we played tonight. Give those guys credit; they stepped up. We knew we were coming into a little bit of a buzz saw after the performance they had against Kentucky last week, and some of our guys, some of our key guys that we needed to step up didn’t step up tonight.
Q. You obviously know it’s going to be tough anyway coming into this environment, but how did you prepare for that extra dose?
KEVIN BAGGETT: I don’t think you can. The only thing we can do is mentally talk about it. We watched enough film, we’ve practiced against the different things we needed to work on in terms of what we thought Kansas was going to execute. We just needed to be able to come out and take the first initial punch and we kind of got off to a slow start. Some of the guys that I needed to come out and get started right away didn’t, and so that kind of set us back.
Q. They put Cliff Alexander, No. 2, in the game, and he had a 9-0 run on his own. I think that stretched it out a little bit, gave them that cushion. Why was he so tough?
KEVIN BAGGETT: Just a match-up, a talented player. Again, give those guys credit. I really don’t have the answer other than we really just didn’t do a good enough job guarding them.
Q. Can you answer the same about Cliff, No. 2?
XAVIER LUNDY: He’s just a big presence in the paint. He’s a tough kid, pretty hard to guard, and we pretty much didn’t have an answer for it today.
Q. What did you think of their energy tonight? Seemed like they played as hard as they played all year.
XAVIER LUNDY: Yeah, I think that was the difference tonight between us and them. Their whole team played with a lot of energy, and I think some of our players didn’t play up to their level energy-wise, and I think that’s what gave them the extra boost on the court.
Q. Teddy (Okereafor) scored 29 points against Lehigh on Friday, and he only scored 10 tonight. Do you have any idea off the top of your head why he struggled?
KEVIN BAGGETT: I thought they did a good job focusing on him at times, trying to deny him the ball and not allowing him to get it. I thought he struggled tonight. He was one of those guys I’m talking about that we needed to have him get off to a good start and he didn’t, struggled the first half, scored a little bit better the second half, but I thought the main focus obviously with the last couple games that he’s played for us and done well that those guys are kind of keying on them the way that they did.
Q. What do you talk about at halftime in a situation like that?
KEVIN BAGGETT: We just talk about coming out with some pride, just talk about the respect that we need to go back and get that we lost in terms of the way we competed. Obviously we know Kansas is good, and they’re going to be good continuing to go forward. But this is a good basketball team. We certainly just didn’t play like it tonight. You’ve got to go back and do a pride check more than anything else.
Q. Xavier talked about the difference being the energy and effort. Did you see the same thing?
KEVIN BAGGETT: I don’t necessarily know if it was the energy. I don’t know if some of our guys were nervous having played at this level in this type venue. I think that was a little bit of it. It’s hard to simulate in practice with the All-Americans that those guys do have to be able to go up against that until you get in the game and compete against it. But again, we’re going to try to get to where we need to get to to try to win our league. We certainly are thinking big term getting to the tournament and having to come back and compete against a team like this. We’ve got a long way to go before that happens, but this is certainly a teaching point for us.
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