Selden shoots No. 5 Kansas to Maui Invitational title, 70-63

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LAHAINA, Hawaii – Junior guard Wayne Selden, Jr., tied a career-high and earned tournament co-MVP honors as No. 5/7 Kansas downed the No. 19/16 Vanderbilt Commodores, 70-63, to claim its second Maui Invitational title Wednesday evening inside the Lahaina Civic Center. Selden and teammate Frank Mason III were named the tournament’s co-most valuable players, while senior forward Perry Ellis joined Selden on the All-Tournament Team.

The win, which moved Kansas to 4-1 on the year, earned the Jayhawks their second championship trophy at the Maui Invitational and first since 1996.

With the Kansas offense stagnant for the first time this week, it was Selden who sparked the Jayhawks as he tied a career-high with 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Selden added to an impressive outing for KU’s starting backcourt, which combined for 47 of the Jayhawks’ 70 points with the help of seven makes from beyond the three-point arc.

While they eventually returned to the form that had seen an average of 103 points through the first two games in Maui, the Jayhawks were sluggish to start the game. It took KU nearly four minutes to put in its first field goal and, with the help of four Kansas turnovers, the Commodores built themselves an eight-point lead just over seven minutes into the matchup.

As it had done all tournament though, the KU offense came alive and put together a furious flourish to get the Jayhawks back into the game quickly. Selden kicked off an 11-2 Kansas run with eight-straight points, connecting on back-to-back threes and adding a fast-break layup. Mason then converted on an and-one opportunity to pull KU back within one, just two minutes after KU had trailed by 10 points.

After the two squads combined for just two field goals over the next five minutes, sophomore Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk evened the Jayhawks and Commodores at 22-22 at the 4:03 mark with his ninth three of the tournament and only trey of the day.

Vanderbilt closed out the frame with two three pointers from guards Camron Justice and Nolan Cressler to head into the locker room with a 30-26 lead, which handed the Jayhawks their first halftime deficit of the young season.

The Commodores’ lead did not last for long into the second frame however, as the Jayhawks opened the half on a 10-6 run and handed Vanderbilt its first deficit of the entire Maui Jim Maui tournament. Sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham fueled the KU run with a pair of threes, while Ellis added a dunk to get the Jayhawks out to a 39-36 lead as they came out of the first media timeout of the half.

Two minutes later Selden connected on his seventh field goal of the game with a jumper from the right elbow to cap a 16-8 KU run in the first seven minutes of the second half, forcing former KU assistant and current VU head coach, Kevin Stallings, to call a timeout to try and put a stop to the Jayhawk spirit.

The bench made its presence felt starting at the 8:00 mark and helped KU put the game out of reach. Mykhailiuk put in a fast-break layup less than 20 seconds after coming off the bench. Just over a minute later, freshman forward Carlton Bragg, Jr., took it coast-to-coast after a steal to put the Jayhawks’ lead into double-digits for the first time on the night at 60-50 with 6:53 left in regulation.

The Jayhawks failed to tally a field goal over the final five minutes of action, and withstood an 11-6 Vanderbilt run over the final four minutes with the help of six free throws down the stretch. Kansas closed out the 70-63 win to earn the tournament title and send the Commodores home with their first loss of the season.

KU ended its run in Maui hot from behind the arc, connecting on 8-of-16 from three-point land, seven of which came from the hands of Selden and Graham. That hot shooting extended within the arc as KU, faced with its first halftime deficit of the year, shot over 62 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes of play. That was in contrast to the Jayhawk defense holding the VU shooters to 40 percent from the field in the second half, which included a 2-of-12 clip from three.

Ellis led the Jayhawks with eight rebounds on the night, which added to his 13.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg average in the three Maui Invitational contests.

Tournament Co-MVPs, Selden and Mason combined to average 32.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg, and 9.0 apg during their three games in Maui and notched just five turnovers between the two Jayhawks.                                               

The Jayhawks will return to the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse after an 18-day hiatus when they welcome in the Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds on Tuesday, Dec. 1. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., and will be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3.