No. 11/12 Kansas Runs Rhode Island, 76-60
ORLANDO — Junior forward Perry Ellis’ second-straight game with 17 points led the way for the Jayhawk offense that found success from the paint and the perimeter as Kansas downed Rhode Island in the quarterfinal round of the Orlando Classic, 76-60, inside the HP Field House on Thanksgiving Day.
Facing a Rhode Island (3-1) team fresh off an upset of No. 21 Nebraska, Kansas (3-1) put the game away early with a three-point parade in the first half. The Jayhawks went 7-for-14 from downtown in the opening frame to take a lead they would never surrender. Still hungry for a repeat upset, Rhode Island cut the KU’s lead to 13 more than once in the final 20 minutes, but KU worked the ball inside for the dunks, layups and free throws to close it out. The Jayhawks will now advance to the semifinal round against Tennessee on Friday at 11 a.m. CT.
Ellis set the tone with 17 points, including 11 in the first half, and his first three-pointer of the season. He pulled down five boards and finished his day 5-of-10 from the floor. Sophomore guard Frank Mason III followed him with 12 points and a team-high five assists. Both Mason and freshman forward Cliff Alexander led KU in the second half with seven points apiece. Alexander posted nine total points on the day and added a game-best eight rebounds. He also swatted multiple blocks (2) for the first time as a Jayhawk.
Sophomore guard Wayne Selden, Jr. shook off his scoreless effort in his previous outing by burying a three for KU’s first bucket of the game. He went on to score 10 points, pulled down a career-best seven boards and dished out four assists for a well-rounded effort. Missing the Rider game for precautionary reasons, freshman guard Devonte’ Graham’s return was impactful, chalking up 10 points.
As a unit, Kansas shot 47 percent (25-for-53) and posted season-bests with eight three-pointers and seven blocks. On the opposing bench, KU held its first opponent to under 40 percent shooting this season as Rhode Island made 19 of its 52 attempts (37 percent). Yet, sophomore guard and defending Atlantic-10 Player of the Week E.C. Matthews led all players with 20 points. Ram senior forward Gilvydas Biruta surpassed the 1,000-career point mark with his 16 against the Jayhawks on Thursday.
After Selden got it started with the first trey of the game, Kansas capitalized on a pair of Ram turnovers with quick layups in transition before returning to the long ball. Selden hit his second, while sophomore guard Brannen Greene checked into the game and immediately drained a three of his own. Mason took his turn and even the big man, Ellis, got him one. He pulled up at the top of the key and fired off KU’s fifth three of the game not yet halfway through the first period to put KU in front, 20-10.
Thanks to the three-point parade, the Jayhawks suddenly had more access to the lane as the Rams’ defense was forced to stretch out. Reading it well, Selden hit sophomore forward Landen Lucas under the bucket to push KU’s lead. Freshman guard Kelly Oubre, Jr., extended it even further with a drive to the hoop, his first points of the game, capping a 14-1 Jayhawk run that suddenly found them leading by 20.
Located in the middle of the Walt Disney World Resort, the ESPN Wide World of Sports basketball court certainly captured the Jayhawks having fun. An alley-oop to Lucas had the team cheesing and as did Greene’s final three of the half that put the finishing touches the 43-25 lead that KU took to the lockerroom.
Out of the break, Kansas again started the half by hitting just one of its first five shots. The Rams were looking for any Jayhawk shortcoming and used their opponents’ slower to start to creep closer by the first media timeout, 47-33. A runner through the lane from Mason backed by a three-point play by junior forward Jamari Traylor restarted the Jayhawk offense. When Ellis checked back in to strengthen the lead, however, he was immediately hit with his fourth foul and the Rams’ cut the deficit to 13.
Turnovers didn’t help as sloppy play on both ends kept the Rams from getting much out of it. Kansas committed just three in the first half, but five more giveaways through the first 10 minutes of the second half made the final frame less sharp. Finally, a bullet pass from Selden to Alexander under the basket resulted in a three-point play as KU worked to get back to its 20-point margin from the first half.
Still fighting, the Rams hit another three only to be matched by another from Mason on KU’s end of the floor – taking the wind out of any comeback attempt. Rhode Island kept hitting shots, but the Jayhawks had all the answers needed to cruise into the final minutes. Ellis slammed one last dunk, wrapping up the 76-60 win.
Kansas moves on to semifinal action against Tennessee Friday, Nov. 28, at 11 a.m. The event concludes on Sunday, Nov. 30.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): So. G Frank Mason, III (4/7), So. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (4/39), Fr. G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (2/2), Jr. F Perry Ellis (4/41), So. F Landen Lucas (2/2)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 3-1
ATTENDANCE: 3,915 (HP Field House capacity: 5,000)
- Made the Jayhawks 3-1 for the 11th time in Bill Self’s 12 seasons at Kansas.
- Improved Kansas to 3-1 in the all-time series against Rhode Island.
- Kept Kansas at 1-1 in neutral site games this season.
- Improved Self to 3-0 against Rhode Island (2-0 while at KU), 328-70 at Kansas and 535-175 overall.
- Pushed KU’s in-season tournament record to 33-6 under Self.
- Made KU’s all-time record 2,129-823.
- For the first time in program history, Rhode Island played back-to-back ranked opponents in the regular season. The Rams defeated No. 21 Nebraska on Nov. 22, but didn’t fare as well against No. 11 Kansas. The Jayhawks never trailed in the win.
- Kansas handed Rhode Island its first loss of the season after the Rams started the year 3-0 for the first time since 2009.
- KU started by the first and second halves by hitting just one of its first five shots. KU went on to finish 14-for-27 in the first half and 9-for-16 in the second.
- Fifteen of KU’s first 20 points were three-pointers during a long-ball party that everyone got involved in. Sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., sophomore G Frank Mason III, sophomore G Brannen Green and junior F Perry Ellis all caught fire not even 10 minutes into the game. Freshman G Devonte’ Graham added another as halftime approached. By halftime, KU was 7-for-14 from three in the first half, the most three-pointers by Kansas in a half since draining seven against Texas Tech (3/14/13).
- Kansas finished the game 8-for-17 from three-point territory, marking the first time KU has hit six or more threes in consecutive games since the end of the regular season last year (7 vs. Texas Tech, 3/5/14; 8 at West Virginia, 3/8/14).
- KU’s three-point efficiency (8-for-17, 47.1 percent) nearly outdid its work from the rest of the floor (25-for-52, 47.2 percent). In fact at halftime, KU’s three-point shooting (7-for-14) was as accurate as its free throw shooting (6-for-12).
- While holding the Rams to a single point over a five-minute stretch in the first half, Kansas piled on a 14-1 run to push KU out to its first 20-point lead of the game (31-11).
- From the 12:01 to 1:52 mark, KU did not allow a two-point field goal. Rhode Island made just two field goals in that span, a pair of three-pointers.
- For the first time this season, Kansas’ defense held a team to under 40 percent shooting (36.5 percent). Thanks in large part to a season-high seven blocks and eight steals.
- Junior F Perry Ellis was the first player on the floor to double-figures, tallying 11 points in the first half. He went on to tie his season-best with 17 points for the second-straight game.
- Also for the second-straight game, freshman G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk became the youngest player 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. This time around, however, he was the only starter that did not score.
- After being held scoreless for the first time in his career against Rider (11/24), sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr. notched KU’s first field goal of the game, a three-pointer, and went on to tie his season-high with 10 points.
- Selden pulled down a career-best seven rebounds. His previous best was six, which he tied three different times.
- Freshman F Cliff Alexander posted seven points in the second half and nine total for another solid performance off the bench. He led KU in rebounds for the second time this season with eight against the Rams.
- Sophomore G Frank Mason III was second in KU’s scoring with 12 points, his ninth career game in double-figures.
- Sophomore F Landen Lucas made his second-consecutive start, which he used for four points, four rebounds and tied his career-high with two steals.
- Junior F Jamari Traylor completed the game with six points and four rebounds. He has recorded multiple blocks every game this season.
- The back-to-back games in which sophomore G Brannen Greene has hit more than one three-pointer are the first of his career.
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