No. 13/14 Kansas Ends 2014 With Kent State Win
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Six shots up, six shots down started Kelly Oubre’s night as the freshman guard led No. 13/14 Kansas to a 78-62 win over a solid Kent State squad in the final game of 2014 inside Allen Fieldhouse Tuesday night.
Before ringing in the New Year, Kansas (10-2) went to work on its last week of non-conference action by welcoming Kent State (8-4) and collecting its 14th-straight home victory. Bouncing back from just its second loss of the season at Temple last week, KU moved to 63-8 in games following a loss.
For the second time this season – and the first since the Kentucky game – head coach Bill Self went with junior forwards Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor, sophomore guards Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden, Jr. and Oubre. Each came through in their own way, but none more than Oubre. The New Orleans native went 6-for-6 in the first half, highlighted by a 4-for-4 three-point accuracy. By the end of his evening, he finished 8-for-12 with a game-high 20 points and seven rebounds.
Alongside him, Ellis missed a double-double by a pair of rebounds, but still posted his 39th game in double-figures with 15 points and pulled down eight boards. Mason and Selden combined for 10 assists, while Mason extended his double-digit scoring streak to nine-straight games – the longest of any Jayhawk this season – with 14 tallies. Traylor notched his own seven-point streak in the second half, while freshman Cliff Alexander scored all eight of his points in the final 20 minutes.
The Jayhawks finished the game just one shot shy of the 50 percent mark (30-for-61), outrebounded their 10th opponent of the season (44-31) and ran the table on fastbreak points (19-0) – the third time this year that a KU opponent has failed to log a point on a fastbreak.
On the other bench, Kent State was led by redshirt sophomore Jimmy Hall, Jr. Named the Preseason MAC Newcomer of the Year by the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, Hall looked the part in the first half with 12 points. The Jayhawks, however, held him to a single point in the final frame. Junior Kaliq Spicer and senior Kris Brewer rounded out the leaders with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Perry Ellis added 15 points, including a
thunderous two on this jam in the first half.
Oubre racked up eight of the Jayhawks’ first 10 points, knocking down a pair of threes before the first media timeout. While Oubre went off, however, the Golden Flashes kept pace. Back-to-back threes and a long jumper from Brewer put Kent State in front, 22-16. Midway through the first half, Self called for the timeout.
The message was received.
Out of the pause, Ellis fought for his own rebound and laid it in. On the next possession, Oubre connected on yet another three-pointer to reach double figures faster than any other Jayhawk over the last season and a half (6:23). Yet, Kansas was still playing behind. Three-straight baskets from Hall kept Kent State in front. Now 6-for-6 to start the game, Oubre’s jumper returned the lead to the Jayhawks. When Ellis capped the 7-0 Kansas run, the Golden Flashes took their turn at a timeout. They would never lead again.
A dunk from Spicer broke up a Kent State scoring drought that spanned almost five full minutes. While it helped his squad outshoot Kansas in the first half (50.0-44.4), the Jayhawks didn’t let loose of a lead that was finally theirs. KU went to halftime up, 39-33.
Oubre’s streak of makes ended in the opening minute of the second half, but he quickly restarted. He made his next attempt, sending KU to its first double-digit lead of the night, 44-33. And there it would stay. Spicer did hit another jump shot to narrow it to single digits once more, but five-straight points from Mason and seven-straight Traylor provided extra insurance.
Kent State continued to show why it was needed. Devareaux Manley drilled his second three of the half, again cutting KU’s lead to single digits, 56-47, with nine minutes on the clock.
This time, it was the other McDonald’s All-American on KU’s roster with the boost. Alexander caught fire for eight points in a row, highlighted by an alley-oop slam. Ready to put it away for good, Mason swiped the ball at half court and rolled it into a fastbreak layup. Suddenly behind by 20-plus, Kent State used its final timeout.
The Jayhawks enjoyed their last minutes of 2014 and were all smiles when Hunter Mickelson swatted away a shot, Brannen Greene sent it up the floor and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk threw down the dunk. Even Tyler Self joined the party, capping the night with his first points of the year and finishing the KU win, 78-62.
Kansas will close out non-conference play when it hosts UNLV on Sunday, Jan. 4, at 3:30 p.m. (Central), on CBS. Then KU, 10-time defending Big 12 regular-season champion, will open conference play at Baylor on Wednesday, Jan. 7, at 8 p.m., on ESPNU.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): So. G Frank Mason, III (12/15), So. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (12/47), Fr. G Kelly Oubre, Jr. (4/4), Jr. F Perry Ellis (12/49), Jr. F Jamari Traylor (3/4
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads, 2-0
ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (217th-consecutive sellout)
- Made Kansas 10-2 or better for the second time in the past three seasons and the sixth time in Bill Self’s 12 seasons at KU.
- Kept Kansas an undefeated 2-0 all-time versus Kent State and 12-1 against current membership of the Mid-American Conference.
- Picked up the Jayhawks to a 63-8 record in games following a loss under head coach Bill Self.
- Upped KU’s record to 6-0 in home games this season and 5-0 inside Allen Fieldhouse in his 60th season of Kansas basketball.
- Extended the Jayhawks’ win streak inside the Fieldhouse to 14-straight games.
- Made Kansas 718-109 all-time inside Allen Fieldhouse, including a 180-9 home mark under Self.
- Improved Self to 335-71 while at Kansas and 542-176 overall.
- Made KU 2,136-824 all-time.
- Led by freshman F Cliff Alexander’s two rejections, Kansas recorded a season-high eight blocked shots, besting the previous high of seven against Rhode Island on Nov. 27.
- Seven individual Jayhawks recorded a blocked shot in the contest, the most since eight Kansas players blocked shots against Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Nov. 23, 2010.
- On the year, Kent State had only allowed opponents to average 58.8 points-per-game which ranked 39th in the country. Kansas surpassed that mark by tying the most points by a 2014 Golden Flashes’ opponent – 78 points.
- The Jayhawks allowed Kent State to shoot an even 50 percent (14-of-28) from the field in the first half of play. Kansas had only surrendered 50 percent or better in the opening period in one other contest this season. Florida made 53.6 percent of its field goals (15-of-28) to begin the game on Dec. 5.
- Both times KU allowed an opponent to make more than half of its shots in the opening period of play have resulted in Kansas victories.
- The Kansas defense harassed Kent State into shooting remarkably lower in the second half (32.3 percent, 10-of-31 shots).
- The Jayhawks crashed the glass and tied a season-high 44 rebounds. Kansas has now recorded 44 rebounds four separate times in 2014.
- Kansas also swiped a season-high-tying nine steals away from Kent State.
- Kansas’ 36 field goal attempts in the first half were the most by a Kansas team in 2014 and marked the most shots attempted in the first 20 minutes since shooting 37 times against Iowa State on Jan. 29, 2014.
- Kansas raced-out and matched its season-high 11 fast break points thanks to a layup by freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr. at the 17:41 mark in the second half. The Jayhawks previously scored 11 points in transition in the opening game of the season against UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 14. Kansas finished the game with 19 points in transition.
- Kansas also held Kent State scoreless on the fast break, marking the third time this season KU has kept a team off of the board in the fast break category. The Jayhawks outdid the Golden Flashes in fast-break scoring, 19-0.
- Entering the Temple game on Dec. 22, Kansas was peaking from the free throw line converting 200-of-268 (75 percent) shots from the charity stripe. Due to a 9-of-15 performance at Temple and a 13-of-22 showing against Kent State, the Jayhawks are now on a skid of 22-for-37 over their last two games equaling out to 59.5 percent.
- Sophomore G Frank Mason III extended his double-digit scoring streak to nine games thanks to a layup giving him 10 points with 14:44 remaining in the contest.
- Mason III also connected on a three-pointer and has now tallied at least one three in 10 of his 12 outings this season.
- Freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr. scored 11 points – going 3-for-3 from long range – six minutes and 23 seconds into the contest. Oubre sparked the Jayhawks with 11 of KU’s first 15 points at the 13:37 mark of the first half.
- Oubre became KU’s fastest player to reach double figures since Ben McLemore scored 10 points in five minutes and 33 seconds against Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament on March 14, 2013.
- Four minutes later, Oubre added another three which tied his career-high four threes made, which he set against Lafayette on Dec. 20.
- Oubre also played a career-high 31 minutes against Kent State. His previous longevity in a single game was 23 minutes against Lafayette on Dec. 20.
- Oubre’s 16 points in the first session of play were the highest by a Jayhawk in the opening half this season. Previously, sophomore guard Frank Mason III held the high-mark with 13 points in the opening frame against Temple on Dec. 22.
- Over the previous three contests, Oubre has scored 23, 20 and nine points averaging out to 17.3 points per game. His hot streak has resulted in a 60 percent mark from the field and a 53.3 percent average from behind the three-point line. Oubre is also averaging eight rebounds over the previous three games.
- Junior F Perry Ellis began the game 2-of-8 from the field, but recovered to make four-consecutive shots, finishing 6-of-13 with 12 points in the opening frame.
- After nine combined points in the last two games on a 3-of-16 shooting performance, Ellis got out of his slump posting his ninth 10-plus point performance of 2014 finishing 7-of-14 from the field for 15 on the scoreboard.
- Sophomore F Landen Lucas pulled down a career-high seven rebounds against Kent State. Lucas’ previous career-best was six boards against Florida on Dec. 5.
- Redshirt sophomore G Tyler Self scored his first points since the 2012-13 season with a layup in the final seconds of the game.
POSTGAME QUOTES KANSAS
Kansas Head Coach Bill Self
On decision to keep Kelly Oubre, Jr. in the game after his second foul:
“No, I wasn’t tempted to take him out. I could have and fortunately I didn’t, because he absolutely carried us the first ten minutes of the game. In a situation like that I don’t think it would have done us a lot of good to protect the guy that, in all honestly, we don’t know how effective he would be in the second half. He wouldn’t have had the chance to play the role that he did and fortunately we did not take him out and he was great.”
On playing the game faster:
“We were faster tonight. They are an easier team to play fast against, because they are okay with it. Certainly though, we definitely were more on the floor tonight than we have been before and we blocked more shots. Our activity was much better tonight.”
On the energy Cliff Alexander brought to the game in the second half and the team’s ability to overcome negative start:
“I didn’t think he was good in the first half. If there were a few positives, Alexander was different in the second half than he was in the first. Frank Mason and Perry Ellis were much different than they were after the first 10 minutes, so there were some good things that actually happened that we actually changed during the game. We haven’t had a lot of success in doing that, so that was a positive. We played pretty good from the six-minute mark of the first half on. We outscored them by 28 points over a span of 20 minutes, so that was pretty positive. They have a nice team.”
On Kelly Oubre’s progression:
“There is no question he has more confidence in himself and everybody has more confidence in him. He’s played very well. The Georgetown game was a start, the Utah game was better, the Lafayette game was a little better. The Temple game it didn’t matter – everybody was bad in that game except for Mason. He (Oubre) was the best player in the game for us tonight.”
On Kelly Oubre’s progression in practice:
“He probably isn’t shooting the ball like that in practice. You don’t see that a lot of the time from guys that have reputations as being great shooters. It is nice when Svi (Mykhailiuk) and Brannen Greene haven’t been making shots. It’s nice when you have a guy you weren’t counting on that can be a perimeter threat. Wayne Selden hasn’t been shooting the ball really well, so we needed somebody to step up and do it. He’s been the most consistent player we have had of late doing that.”
On Oubre’s other skills:
“He’s got good hands and gets his hands on a lot of balls. He has a good activity level and is probably higher than a lot of the guys we have.”
On inside play and scoring:
“They got on the high side a lot, which allows us to get the ball side more. I thought besides a few post traps that we handled poorly early on, our big guys played much better. I thought Landen Lucas played really good in the first half. (Cliff) Alexander was very good the second half. (Jamari) Traylor was good the second half and (Perry) Ellis was pretty consistent throughout the majority of the game when he was in there. I thought our bigs played much better tonight.”
On going into the locker room after the first half with a six point lead:
“I thought we played pretty good to finish the half. I didn’t think we guarded them very well to start off, but they’re good. We were much better guarding ball screens in the second half. I though in the first half we didn’t play well at all for probably the first 12 minutes, but after that we played pretty well.”
On Frank Mason’s play in Devonte’s absence:
“Well he is our most valuable player. Even when he doesn’t play great we still have to have him out there. He’s played well. I think he can play better especially on a night like tonight, where he had five assists and one turnover in the first half, but he didn’t get any assists the second half. He’s done a better job. From the point guard position, if he can get 14 points, five rebounds, five assists, and one turnover game, you are probably going to be very happy at the night’s end. He’s been pretty consistent for us.”
On the rotation in the three spot between Kelly Oubre Svi Mykhailiuk, and Brannen Greene:
“Kelly has solidified himself in that position. What we have to do is get one of those two playing really well off the bench. If we could get Devonte’ back that would change things. It’s Oubre’s spot. That can’t mean Greene or Mykhailiuk couldn’t crack the lineup. Right now, I’d say Kelly’s been our best wing player and I don’t see that changing. I hope it doesn’t I would like to see Greene and Mykhailiuk play better, so it would put more pressure not only on Oubre, but Selden. We have to get him to where he is more productive and consistent too.”
On team wanting to get back on the court following the Temple game:
“I thought we were better. We played good in stretches tonight and with better energy, but still made some mistakes. That’s a team that scores pretty well and we locked them up pretty good in the second half. I was thinking the guys wanted to be back out there without question.”
On UNLV and the conclusion of the non-conference season:
“The last time we played a Mountain West team right before league play started we got beat by San Diego State. UNLV is long. Christian Wood is great, seven foot and can play the three spot. We’ll have to come up with some things to stop them, but especially him.”
On Tyler Self’s layup:
“He went with the right hand on the left side, but he said, ‘Dad I got to make sure I got this one down.’ I think he was measuring his steps, but I think he just decided to go ahead and lay it up. It was good that someone off our scout team made a basket tonight.”
Kansas freshman guard Kelly Oubre, Jr.
On the team’s defense:
“I think we came out easier tonight. The guys were more active on the defensive end. We had more points in transition.”
On getting in an offensive rhythm:
“I was just playing the game. Frank (Mason III) did a good job of pushing the ball and attacking the rim.”
On focusing after the quick foul and turnover:
“You just have to stay in the game. After that I just refocused myself and tried to make a stop on the defensive end.”
On the team’s progression from the beginning of the year to now:
“We need to play hard. Whatever Coach (Self) needs us to do, that is what we do.”
On starting out 6-6 from the field personally:
“I was just trying to keep playing and getting stops on defense and continue to go hard. I was trying to focus on the things I could do better.”
Kansas junior forward Perry Ellis
On the turning things around after loss at Temple:
“We have been getting after it in practice and working really hard. We are looking forward to leaving some things behind.”
On scoring around the bucket:
“We have been doing a lot of physical post work. We need to get up, just finish it and continue doing that.”
On physicality being an issue for the inside players:
“I don’t think it is a problem, we just aren’t finishing strong. Now in practice we are doing better at those things.”
Kansas sophomore guard Frank Mason III
On his game:
“I think I am becoming a better shooter. I am getting better at getting in the lane and creating shots for my teammates and catching the ball in transition. There were a couple of turnovers there, and when we turned it over they got mad to begin with. You really can’t afford turnovers against a team like that. That was key.”
On the team’s pace of play:
“Coach (Self) talks a lot about pace in practice about passing the ball. We need to have a faster offense and getting out into transition.”
POSTGAME QUOTES KENT STATE
Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff
“First of all, I’m proud of our guys and how we competed. What an unbelievable environment this place is. It was a special opportunity for our guys and myself; I put myself in there too, because I get a chance to compete in this type of venue. It’s a great place with unbelievable fans and an unbelievable coach and program. I thought for about 28 minutes we played really hard, played really well. Then there was about a three-minute stretch where I sort of thought that it got away from us and we will give them credit for that obviously because they kind of force you to make some mistakes and they capitalized on them. I’m sure Coach Self is proud of how his guys played during that stretch and sometimes those things happen during the course of a game.”
On Kent State’s strong play in the first half:
“I was happy we were competing and in the game. Obviously, you would like to be up at halftime but we were within striking distance. We didn’t start the second half great and I thought that made it difficult for us. I don’t think our shot selection was great, we fouled a little bit too much, we couldn’t get enough rebounds but they had a lot to do with that. They made the plays they needed to make and they made the plays that good teams make and you have to give them a lot of credit.”
On Cliff Alexander and other KU players:
“He’s a good player and they have a bunch of players that will continue to get better and better. (Kelly) Oubre, who I know didn’t start early in the year, he was unbelievable in the first half and I’m sure he’s just scratching the surface of what Coach Self would like to get out of him night in and night out. I thought in the second half all of their big guys wore on us with their physicality and they caught the ball in tight and Jimmy (Hall), who played great in the first half, really couldn’t get going in the second half. I think those guys had a lot to do with it. They blocked a number of shots in there and it’s something our guys need to learn from and take that moving forward, but I think that’s what makes Kansas what they are, is those big physical guys that wear on you in the course of 40 minutes.”
Kent State redshirt sophomore forward Jimmy Hall
On playing well in the first half but still trailing at halftime:
“Coach (Senderoff) told us to keep grinding. We were only down by six, so he just told us to keep fighting and to keep pushing. That’s what we did.”
On keeping the game competitive:
“It was encouraging to be playing well. We tip our hats to them. They are a good team. We were playing really well; we had confidence and we tried to come out in the second half with the same mindset.”
On the physicality and toughness of Kansas’ interior players:
“They are big and pretty talented. I just tried to match their intensity and keep fighting. I give them props; they played hard.”
Kent State redshirt senior guard Derek Jackson
On Kansas jumping out to a quick double-digit lead in the second half and the difficulties of coming back, especially in the Allen Fieldhouse environment:
“That does play a key. It was a great environment, so when they went up quick it was kind of mindboggling. When they went up, we tried to claw back and play through the punches, but we let it get away. It was still a great opportunity for us.”
On his dunk in the second half:
“(I was) Just finishing the play. Coach drew up a backdoor play for me and I just tried finish without contact.”
On teammate Blake Vedder’s three-pointer late in the game:
“I’m pretty sure he is very excited about that. He doesn’t get to many opportunities and I’m glad he made the shots. I’m very happy for Blake.”
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