No. 2 Kansas Shows Depth in Wake Forest Win, 87-78
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Watching a 14-point halftime lead sliced to four, freshman guard Frank Mason stepped up for a crucial three-pointer to restart the No. 2 Kansas offense, who went on to defeat Wake Forest, 87-78, to open its stay in the Bahamas in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Thanksgiving Day.
Undefeated foes squaring off for the first time since 2001, Kansas (5-0) and Wake Forest (5-1) each used sizable runs to dramatically change the course of the game in opposing directions. KU saw itself fall behind 11-9 in the early moments, before rattling off a 15-2 run to break the game open. Facing a 40-26 deficit to start the second half, Wake Forest erupted for a 16-6 run to cut KU’s lead to four – prompting Mason’s big bucket.
While freshman guard Andrew Wiggins led the Jayhawk offense with 17 points, four assists and three steals, it was Mason and the Kansas bench that provided the spark when needed. He went on to score 13 points and dish out three assists, while fellow freshman bench player Joel Embiid knocked down 10 points with six rebounds and three blocks for his second-straight game. Sophomore forward Jamari Traylor scored a career-high eight points on 3-of-4 shooting and five rebounds. By game’s end, the Kansas bench outscored Wake’s 41-17.
Aside from Wiggins, sophomore forward Perry Ellis tallied nine points and a team-high seven rebounds. Senior forward Tarik Black and freshman guard Wayne Selden, Jr. combined for 15 points in the win.
Sophomore guard Codi Miller-McIntyre was a force for the Demon Deacons, who saw four players finish in double digits. Miller-McIntyre scored 22 second-half points to lead all players with 26 for the game. Both teams ended the afternoon hovering around the 46 percent shooting mark.
Black completed a three-point play to give KU an early edge, but the Demon Deacons reversed the trend and took the lead until junior guard Naadir Tharpe drained a three to give KU the slight 12-11 lead heading into the first media timeout.
The Jayhawks came out of the break with the hotter hand. Embiid fought off three missed Wake Forest shots under the basket to grab the rebound and take it back down the floor for a layup, capping an 8-0 KU run and extending the lead, 17-11. Still off and running, the Jayhawks shook off a jumper from the Deacons and kept rolling. Moments after checking into the game, sophomore guard Andrew White III snagged an offensive rebound, went back in for the layup and drew the foul. His and-one pushed KU into its first double-digit lead of the day just 10 minutes into the game.
After each team made five of their first 10 shots to open the game, the hot start faded. Wake Forest made just two of its next 10 attempts. On the flipside, after Traylor knocked down a layup, the Jayhawks missed the next five shots they put up. Embiid put a stop to it with a layup of his own before White took a hard foul driving down the lane. Shook up, he managed to hit the back end of his free throws and KU returned to its double-digit lead, 30-20.
Although KU’s leading scorers on the season, Ellis and Wiggins, contributed the last four points of the half, the duo combined for just nine points in the opening 20 minutes. Unfazed, the depth of KU’s lineup showed. A breakaway layup from Mason pushed KU’s lead to 14 before Wiggins and Ellis chipped in their late points. Armed with its largest lead of the game, Miller-McIntyre scored back-to-back buckets in the final minute. Nevertheless, KU took a comfortable 40-26 lead into halftime.
On a mission to close the gap, the Demon Deacons came out firing. A fast-break dunk from Miller-McIntyre capped a 5-0 run and cut KU’s lead to 10, forcing an early timeout from the Kansas bench. The pause didn’t slow the Deacons as they came out to drill back-to-back buckets to cut the KU lead to six, 44-38.
Still waiting for the media timeout, Self saw his Jayhawks give up two more uncontested layups. With its sizable halftime lead now at 46-42, the Kansas head coach was forced to use his second timeout of the half with 14:10 remaining.
In desperate need of a bucket, Mason came through with a crucial three-pointer from the top of the key. He added a free throw moments later, pulling Kansas forward. With every starter on the bench, Traylor added another layup – passing his career-high point total and keeping Kansas in front in the process, 52-44.
KU’s bench kept pushing, Embiid used his massive length for a put-back dunk before White came up with the steal on the other end of the floor. The sophomore guard converted that swipe into a fast-break dunk to restore KU’s double-digit lead, 56-45.
While the Jayhawks continued to work to put distance between themselves and the opposition, the Demon Deacons helped in their own way. Approaching the eight-minute mark, the first technical foul was called on Wake Forest. Not even a minute later, WFU’s Devin Thomas was whistled for back-to-back technicals, prompting his early exit from the game. Freshman guard Conner Frankamp was asked to step up and take all six of the free shots – the first free throws of his career – which resulted in four makes and a 64-52 lead with 7:26 remaining.
After more than six minutes on the bench, the majority of the Kansas starters were called back in and immediately thanked their bench for its support with a trey from Wiggins. Ellis joined him as the duo scored six-straight to start closing in on Wake Forest, 75-64.
Putting his team on his back, Miller-McIntyre struck again, knocking down eight-straight points to cut KU’s lead to five with less than two minutes to play, 77-72. Still grinding it out, Selden was right behind him to answer with a floater through the lane to maintain the slim but certain lead.
Less than 50 seconds were left when Kansas used one more timeout, which resulted in free throws for Wiggins and Tharpe. As Tharpe hit them both, the Rock Chalk Chant rang out with just 30 ticks on the clock. Wiggins closed out the win with a three-point play to land at the final score 87-78.
Kansas will face Villanova on Friday, Nov. 29, in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 CT. KU will play its final game in the Bahamas on Saturday, Nov. 30. NO. 2/2 KANSAS 87, WAKE FOREST 78
Nov. 28, 2013 KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): Jr. Naadir Tharpe (4/4), Fr. Wayne Selden, Jr. (5/5), Fr. Andrew Wiggins (5/5), So. Perry Ellis (5/8), Sr. Tarik Black (5/65)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 3-2
ATTENDANCE: 3,380 (Capacity: 3,900)
- Made Kansas 2-0 on neutral courts this season and 69-24 on neutral floors in the Bill Self era
- Made Kansas 5-0 for the fifth time in the Bill Self era
- Made Kansas 3-2 all-time against Wake Forest
- Moved Self’s record to 305-59 at Kansas and 512-164 overall
- Improved Kansas to 2,106-812 all-time
- An offense built around scoring runs, Kansas fell behind 11-9 following Wake Forest’s first three-pointer of the game, and responded with an 8-0 run to take the 17-11 lead. Although Wake responded with a 16-6 run to start the second half, KU never trailed for the remainder of the game.
- KU shot 42.4 percent (14-for-33) in the first half, marking the first time this year the Jayhawks shot under 50 percent by halftime. The last time occurred during KU’s icy start (25 percent, 7-for-28) against North Carolina in last year’s NCAA Tournament (3/24/13).
- By halftime, Kansas has scored 40 points as a team yet no one had scored more than six individually. Nine of the 10 Jayhawks that checked into the opening half scored, while sophomore F Jamari Traylor and freshman C Joel Embiid led with six each at the break.
- Wake Forest came out of halftime with a run of its own, cutting KU’s 14-point halftime lead to four with a 16-6 run to open the second half.
- The Demon Deacons’ second-half surged saw head coach Bill Self sit his starters in lieu of his talented bench. The Jayhawk bench players outscored WFU’s bench 41-17 for the game. The starters stayed on the bench for more than six-straight minutes.
- Kansas led 40-26 at the break and improved to 4-0 when leading after the game’s first 20 minutes this season.
- Kansas tied a season-low with three three-pointers made (Duke).
- Wake Forest out-scored Kansas on fast-break points (10-8), marking the first time KU didn’t have the upper hand on breakaway points since Western Kentucky outdid KU 4-2 in that category (3/22/13).
- All 10 players that checked into the game scored – the first such occurrence of the 2013-14 season.
- Senior F Tarik Black finished the game with seven points, and needs just 29 more points to hit 1,000 for his career.
- Sophomore F Jamari Traylor tied the team-high with six points by halftime and eight for the game, setting his new career high.
- Freshman G Andrew Wiggins led the Jayhawks in scoring with 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, giving him five straight double-digit efforts to begin his career.
- Sophomore F Perry Ellis scored nine points, marking the only game this season in which he hasn’t scored in double figures.
- Freshman C Joel Embiid went 4-for-6 on Friday and has missed just three shots in his last three games.
- Embiid also rejected a career-high three blocks for the second-straight game. He has multiple blocks in the last three-consecutive games.
- Freshman G Conner Frankamp’s first free throws as a Jayhawk were as high-pressure as possible. He was given the assignment to take all six technical foul shots in a 30-second game span. He went 1-for-2 the first set and 3-for-4 the second set.
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