No. 11/12 Kansas Claims Orlando Classic Crown
ORLANDO — Tournament MVP Perry Ellis earned every bit of his award, leading the Jayhawks on the scoreboard for all three games of the Orlando Classic to power his No. 11/12 Kansas Jayhawks to the title over Michigan State, 61-56, Sunday afternoon inside the HP Field House.
Kansas (5-1) won its sixth in-season tournament title in head coach Bill Self’s 12 years, while Sunday’s victory marked the first time that a Big 12 Conference team claimed the Orlando Classic championship in the event’s nine years. The Jayhawks snapped a three-game losing streak to Michigan State (4-2), winning its first matchup with the Spartans since Nov. 25, 2003.
Ellis was a stud, again. He missed his second-straight double-double by one rebound, finishing his day with a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds. For the first time in his career, Ellis has four-straight 15+ plus scoring efforts to his credit. For the tournament, including the non-bracketed game against Rider, Ellis scored 75 points and pulled down 30 rebounds for an 18.8/7.5 average for the classic.
Sophomore point guard Frank Mason III was studly in his own right, chalking up his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds while dishing out as many assists (5) as Michigan State did as a team. Making his fourth-straight start at just 17 years old, freshman guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk rattled off a career-best three three-pointers for 11 points – including the buzzer-beating trey to cut the KU deficit to one before halftime.
While three different Jayhawks put up double-digit points, the Jayhawks’ defensive pressure made the difference. KU held MSU to a 24.2 shooting efficiency (8-for-33) in the second half made worse by nine-straight missed shots by the Spartans. Although KU also hit just eight shots in the second half, the team did so more efficiently (8-for-23) and made good on nine of its 12 free throws in the final frame.
Stepping up as rim protector, freshman forward Cliff Alexander swatted a personal-best four blocked shots to add to his eight rebounds. The freshman big man helped KU win the rebound battle, 44-36. When Michigan State attacked from the perimeter instead, making 5-of-8 threes in the first half, KU’s defense turned up the pressure out there, as well. MSU made just one of nine three-point attempts in the final 20 minutes.
Spartan co-captains Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice led the way all day as they contributed 14 points apiece in the loss. Senior forward, and Sporting News Preseason All-American, Branden Dawson brought down a team-best nine rebounds, but the Jayhawks held him to just 4-of-15 shooting.
Ellis and Mason worked together to deliver an early 5-0 lead in the opening minutes, but Valentine’s sharpshooting from three-point range quickly emerged. Meanwhile, head coach Bill Self was whistled for a technical and KU’s offense went temporarily cold. After Ellis and Mason started the game with back-to-back buckets in a 90-second span, the Jayhawks didn’t hit another shot for five minutes. Michigan State enjoyed the drought and used it to build an 18-12 lead.
The Jayhawks ignored it, Ellis and Mason in particular. While Mykhailiuk hit his first three of the game, Ellis and Mason fought to get themselves in position to finish plays. A three-point play by Mason capped the 8-0 Jayhawk run that put them back in front, 24-23. With the stage set for an entertaining sprint to halftime, both teams obliged. MSU reclaimed the lead, but Alexander unleashed his first block of the game on an incoming layup to prevent the Spartans from stretching the lead to more than a single possession.
Kansas was relentless on the glass, fighting under its own basket for extra possessions. Even when shots weren’t falling, a variety of Jayhawks got in the mix for offensive boards, resulting in free throws for Alexander and a layup by junior Jamari Traylor to cut the lead to one. Capping the eventful dash to the break, Mykhailiuk hit a buzzer-beater three to send the Jayhawks to the lockerroom trailing by a single point, 36-35.
Keeping that momentum rolling in the second half, Kansas put together a 10-0 run during MSU’s nine-straight field goal drought. Following a Landen Lucas layup, KU pulled ahead, 45-38. When KU ran into four-straight missed shots, the Spartans again had an opportunity to cut into their deficit – but Mykhailiuk was armed and ready for his career-best third three of the afternoon. The hot-handed three-point shooting that led the Spartans in the first half abandoned them in the second 20 minutes as they missed their first seven from behind the arc, giving them much fewer options to chip away at KU’s lead.
Leading 56-50 with five minutes to play, the Jayhawks took off down the floor in hopes of converting its first fastbreak attempt. Although breakaway points stayed elusive for the Jayhawks, Trice missed a fastbreak dunk on Michigan State’s end to hand KU a critical break.
Mason recorded KU’s last field goal with 2:37 still on the clock, but KU’s defense and a pair of clutch free throws from junior forward Jamari Traylor finished off the championship with a 61-56 score.
Kansas returns to Allen Fieldhouse to play No. 18/16 Florida on Friday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m. (Central) in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The KU-UF game will be televised on ESPN. Last year, Florida defeated Kansas 67-61 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge in Gainesville, Florida. KU will then travel to Washington, D.C., to face Georgetown on Wednesday, Dec. 10. The KU-Georgetown game will begin at 7 p.m. (Central) and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): So. G Frank Mason, III (6/9), So. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (6/41), Fr. G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (4/4), Jr. F Perry Ellis (6/43), So. F Landen Lucas (4/4)
SERIES INFO: Michigan State leads 6-5
ATTENDANCE: 4,842 (Orlando Classic attendance record)
- Made the Jayhawks 5-1 for the third-straight season and the 10th time in Bill Self’s 12 seasons at Kansas.
- Brought KU to a 45-26 record against ranked teams in the Bill Self era and 1-1 against top-25 squads this season.
- Narrowed Michigan State’s lead in the all-time series to 6-5 and snapped KU’s three-game losing streak to the Spartans.
- Bettered Kansas’ record to 3-1 in neutral site games this season.
- Improved Self to 5-6 against Michigan State, 330-70 at Kansas and 537-175 overall.
- Pushed KU’s in-season tournament record to 35-6 under Self.
- Made KU’s all-time record 2,131-823.
- Kansas became the first Big 12 Conference team to win the Orlando Classic in the tournament’s nine-year history.
- The Orlando Classic crown is the sixth in-season tournament championship for Kansas in the Self era, and the first since winning the 2012 CBE Classic in Kansas City, Missouri.
- The Jayhawks snapped a three-game losing streak to Michigan State (4-2), winning its first matchup with the Spartans since Nov. 25, 2003.
- Kansas tied a season-high with 44 rebounds, out-rebounding every team but top-ranked Kentucky so far this season. In fact, without the Kentucky game, KU is averaging a 10.4+ rebounding margin and a 14.6+ scoring margin this season.
- Starting the game, Kansas had trailed just 54 seconds in the tournament until MSU’s third three-pointer gave KU its first deficit of the game, 12-10. The Jayhawks started with a 5-0 lead, but the Spartans answered with an 18-7 run in the first nine minutes to put KU in a hole for the nearly seven minutes. KU broke free for an 8-0 run to lead again, 24-23. After sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr.’s free throws at the 17:38 mark in the second half, KU never trailed again.
- Michigan State seemed to hit every three in the first half, while KU seemed to miss each opportunity from behind the arc. KU’s first make (7:36) and MSU’s first miss (7:16) were a mere 20 seconds apart. Freshman G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk drained KU’s first and second threes of the first half – but KU went 2-for-10 from three in the first half, compared to MSU’s 5-for-8.
- The same three-point power left Michigan State in the second half, as the Spartans converted on just one of nine threes in the final period.
- KU started the first half a chilly 3-for-11 from the field. The Jayhawks picked it up heading for halftime, making nine of their next 20. Both teams made just eight second-half shots, but KU did so with 10 less attempts (8-for-23).
- The Jayhawks came out of the break to take their first lead (39-38) since the 6:52 mark of the first half (24-23). They never trailed again.
- The 19 total field goals that KU allowed Michigan State tied a season-low (Rhode Island, 19). MSU’s five assists were also an opponent low.
- For the fourth-straight game, junior F Perry Ellis was the first player on the KU roster to double-figures. He nearly recorded a double-double in the first half (12 points/7 rebounds), and finished the game with a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds.
- Ellis was named the Orlando Classic Tournament MVP, the first such honor of his career, but the third All-Tournament honors in his three years (2013 Battle4Atlantis, 2012 Big 12 Tournament).
- With 17, 17, 24 and 17 points in his last four games, Ellis has the first four-game streak of 15+ points in his career.
- Sophomore G Frank Mason III broke his career-high in rebounds against Tennessee and did it again on Sunday against Michigan State with 10 for his first career double-double. His 10 points marked his 11th career game in double-figures. He also tallied as many assists (5) by himself as Michigan State did as a team.
- Freshman F Cliff Alexander swatted a career-high four blocks and tied his career-high with eight rebounds.
- Sophomore F Landen Lucas made his fourth-consecutive start, which he used to score six points and grab three rebounds.
- Freshman G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, the youngest player to start a game for Kansas under Bill Self (12 seasons), started his fourth-straight game and responded with a career-high 11 points and three three-pointers. He was the only Jayhawk to hit a three.
- Sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr. went 0-for-10 from the field, marking the first time a player has gone 0-for-10 since Kirk Hinrich tallied the same total against Oklahoma (3/10/02).
- Head coach Bill Self was whistled for his first technical foul of the season before the first media timeout.
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