No. 1 Kansas Overpowers K-State in Big 12 Quarterfinals, 85-63

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – No. 1 Kansas shot 57 percent from the field led by 21 points from senior All-American Perry Ellis on the way to a 85-63 victory over Kansas State in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Thursday afternoon at Sprint Center.

Ellis shot 8-for-11 from the field with six rebounds for his third-straight 20-point scoring effort. KU’s dynamic backcourt duo of Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham combined for 27 points and 15 assists, Mason scoring 16 points with seven assists and Graham notching 11 points with eight assists.

“I thought we looked pretty sharp offensively,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “I thought we did a lot of good things early. We moved the ball and, of course, made some shots which makes everything look better. And actually continued the ball movement for the most part, most of the night, except when they went zone. And then, you know, we did a better job on the glass in the second half. We weren’t great on the glass in the first half. But it was a good first day and I’m happy with our team.”

Kansas (28-4) improves to 18-2 in the quarterfinal round of Big 12 postseason play and extends their overall winning streak to 12 games. The Jayhawks advance to face No. 22 Baylor on Friday at 6 p.m. Central time on ESPN2.

Kansas State (17-16) was led by 23 points from Justin Edwards, and turned 15 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points.

The top-ranked Jayhawks took control of the opening tip and maintained control for the entire game, working its way to a 45-30 halftime advantage.

K-State made an early 3-pointer to take its only lead of the game, 3-2, in the second minute of action. Mason responded with a jumper on the other end of the floor and KU did not trail for the remainder of the Kansas City edition of the Sunflower Showdown. The Wildcats went cold and missed seven of its first eight shots from the field.

During a five-minute run, Kansas made six consecutive shots to pull away from the Wildcats for a 23-11 lead at the 11:32 mark in the first half.

Mason made all four of his shots in the first half, including two 3-pointers, while dishing out five assists before going into halftime with a 45-30 lead.

Kansas scored in transition with ease all day, led by aggressive drives by Graham and Mason. The Jayhawks scored 16 points in transition to K-State’s four.

Freshman forward Carlton Bragg Jr., came off the bench for an efficient 12 points in 11 minutes of action. Bragg showed his range from beyond the arc, making two 3-pointers on the way to his season-high scoring output.

The Wildcats mounted a number of comebacks in the second half but the Jayhawks kept their foot on the pedal in the second half by protecting the ball and maintaining its strong shooting start with a 55-percent clip in the second half.

The highlight of the day came when Ellis soared for an alley-oop pass from Graham midway through the second half, sending the pro-KU crowd in Sprint Center buzzing and giving Kansas a 55-37 lead.

Sophomore guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk came off the bench midway through the second half and drained two 3-pointers within a minute of each other to give KU a 23-point lead with 6:54 remaining. Mykhailiuk finished with six points and three assists in 17 minutes as KU put the finishing touches on its second 20-point victory in the last three games.

The Jayhawks will face No. 22 (No. 5 seed) Baylor on Friday night at 6 p.m. Central on ESPN2. Kansas will be playing for its 12th appearance in the Big 12 Championship finals.


Jr. G Frank Mason III (32/71), So. G Devonte’ Graham (30/30), Jr. G Wayne Selden Jr. (31/102), Sr. F Perry Ellis (32/103), Jr. F Landen Lucas (13/27)… 13th time this combination has started (12-1 record).

SERIES INFO: Kansas sweeps the three-game season against K-State and improves its overall lead to 191-93. KU has won 12-straight against the Wildcats on neutral sites.

ATTENDANCE: 18,972 (Sprint Center)

• Kansas improved to 18-2 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship and 39-10 overall. The Jayhawks are now 9-0 against Kansas State in the Championship and 26-6 as the No. 1 seed.
• KU’s 16 points in transition are the most against a Big 12 opponent in regulation this season. The Jayhawks scored 17 fast-break points after three overtime periods against Oklahoma on Jan. 4.
• 85 points are the most for KU in the Big 12 Championship since scoring 88 in a 88-73 victory over Iowa State on March 13, 2013 in Kansas City.
• Kansas finished 14-for-18 at the free throw line, but made 12 of its first 13 attempts from the charity stripe.
• KU’s 22-point victory is its second 20-point scoring margin in the last three games. The Jayhawks defeated No. 23 Texas by 30 points (86-56) on Feb. 29 in Austin.
• Kansas led for 39 minutes and 29 seconds of regulation against the Wildcats. It is the ninth game of the season, and third in the last four games, in which KU has led for 39 minutes or more.
• Kansas held a 45-30 lead at halftime. KU has had double-figure leads in all three games against K-State this season ( 10, 10, 15).
• The Jayhawks advance to play the Baylor in Friday’s semifinals for the second-straight season. KU swept the regular season contests, winning 102-74 in Lawrence and 66-60 in Waco. Kansas also won last year’s Big 12 championship semifinal match-up, 62-52.
• Kansas made nine of its first 12 field goals on the way to a 59.2 percent shooting clip in the first half.

Senior F Perry Ellis
• Scored 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting for his third-straight 20-point scoring performance and 12th of the season.
• Led the team in scoring and rebounding for the eighth time this year, pulling down six rebounds.

Junior G Frank Mason III
• Set his career-high for points in Big 12 Championship play with 16 on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, including a 2-for-4 mark for beyond the arc.
• Dished out seven assists with just two turnovers.
• His 16 points moved his career total to 1,075 career points and into 44th place on KU’s all-time scoring list, passing Otto Schnellbacher and Rex Walters. His seven assists moved his career total to 363 and to 16th place on the all-time assists list, passing Steve Woodberry.

Sophomore G Devonte’ Graham
• Led the Jayhawks in assists for the 15th time this year, with a total of eight dishes on the day and just one turnover.

Freshman F Carlton Bragg Jr.
• Scored a career-high 12 points in 11 minutes, also registering four fouls in the first half
• Made his first 3-pointer since Jan. 12 at West Virginia. Finished with
• KU freshman forward Carlton Bragg Jr. dropped in a career-high 12 points and was 2-for-2 from behind the arc.


Opening Statement:
COACH SELF: I thought we looked pretty sharp offensively. I thought we did a lot of good things early. We moved the ball and, of course, made some shots which makes everything look better. And actually continued the ball movement for the most part, most of the night, except when they went zone. And then, you know, we did a better job on the glass in the second half. We weren’t great on the glass in the first half. But it was a good first day and I’m happy with our team.

Q. Carlton, you finally got to celebrate some of your own threes today. Was it nice to be able to do that rather than celebrating for your teammates?
CARLTON BRAGG JR.: Yeah, I enjoyed it, just coming in and playing, you know.

COACH SELF: This is Carlton’s first time in the interview room, and he may be a little nervous. And I told him most guys that come in here get more than zero rebounds, but(laughter).

Q. Frank, there was a point in the first half, it was a three-minute run, when you and Devonte had a 10-4 run for yourselves. When you two are going like that, how high is the ceiling for this team?
FRANK MASON III: It’s very high for us. Coach tells us all the time he wants us to stay aggressive and get in the paint so we can create easy shots for our teammates and for ourselves, and that’s what we did.

Q. For Carlton and Frank, mostly Frank, but you have Baylor next. Did you see the scouting report and what you remember about the two games you had against them?
FRANK MASON: They have a lot of length on the wings and have some great athletes, good coaching staff, and they play a good 2-3 zone, extended 2-3 zone. And it was great to get a chance to play against that a little bit today so we can have a little bit of advantage for tomorrow, you know. Not just playing against man the whole night, and we were happy with that.

CARLTON BRAGG: Going along with what Frank said, they are very athletic and their zone’s pretty good. And we got a chance to go against that today and get us prepared for tomorrow.

Q. Frank, in what ways will playing the tough competition that you played in the Big 12 conference throughout the year help you like next week and beyond?
FRANK MASON: You know, every team is good in the NCAA tournament. So, you know, just playing the tough schedule we played throughout the Big 12 prepared us for that point.

Q. Carlton, the Big 12 tournament is known for a time when younger guys get a chance to play more minutes and produce. Did you feel you took advantage of that opportunity?
CARLTON BRAGG: Yes, I was ready when my number was called. Just playing hard and playing my role.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on your victory and look forward to tomorrow, good luck. Let’s go to questions for Coach Self.

Q. Just looking at Devonte and Frank, I just wonder to what degree you think that set the foundation for you to be able to have two point guards out there? And you, I guess, had a little bit of a history with that, leading some of your best tournament success?
COACH SELF: You know, we’ve had — you know, Tulsa we played two points and Illinois we played two points. When we went to the Finals in ’12, we played two points. It’s something we got away from the last two years in large part because you’ve got (indiscernible) and Wiggins. Talented, ball probably didn’t move and probably didn’t create easy opportunities for other guys near as much.

So moving forward, recruiting-wise, we want to play two point guards. I’d play three if we could, as long as one of them was big enough to defend a three. But we have good balance and I like our guys a lot. But the reality is, when Devonte and Frank play well, they drive us more than anybody else.

Q. Coach, Baylor, you’ve beaten them seven straight games, but you have lost to them two of the last three tournament games. So what’s the difference there?
COACH SELF: Well, they played better than us on those particular days. I don’t know that there is a big difference.

We played them last year in the tournament in a really low-scoring game, if I am not mistaken, and eked out a win. But we played them this year the first time and we were as good as we’ve been all year, and the second time, it was basically a one-possession game and we made some good plays late that allowed us to win that game.

But I like their team a lot. I think they’re really good. I love their personnel. Not many guys can throw a Motley and Gathers and Maston, three big guys at you. And with Wainright playing the way he’s playing, they may have as versatile guys as there is in the league with Prince. And they’re good. Their zone has always given us problems. It gives everybody problems at times and certainly we didn’t attack it very well the last time. So with the short turn-around, I hope that we’re prepared to do a much better job against them.

Q. Coach, Carlton was fighting through foul trouble today. If that wasn’t the case, what do you think his minutes would have looked like? And for Cheick was he a little banged up?
COACH SELF: Cheick got hit in the mouth, he’s got a mouth full of stitches. And you can see, visibly see it. But I thought if we played Cheick today and he got hit, he may be done for the weekend and certainly done tomorrow. So the game was going fine, so we decided to not do that.

And the first question about Carlton, he did get in foul trouble and I would have loved for that not to have happened so he could play 20 minutes or whatever, because he shot the ball well in practice as of late. He had a day in practice not too long ago where he shot it like that and it kind of gave him some confidence. He’s been kind of the odd-man-out, unfortunately, because he is not really a true center, and Jamari has been good for us and, of course, Perry has got to play a ton of minutes. But he responded today and you guys can see he is a talented kid, very skilled.

Q. Coach, is there anything you can take away from the first two match-ups against Baylor going into a game trying to beat a team for the third time?
COACH SELF: Well, you know, the first time we were really good on the glass and that was, you know, a huge part of playing that. The second time we were awful. I think we got up like, I could be off, 6-0 rebounding and then you look up and it’s 27-15 or 26-15 them. That means they went on like a 26-9 run against us rebounding the ball, and that’s been our Achilles heel as of late. We haven’t rebounded it. Perry’s got to rebound it better and our guards have to clean up.

You look at K-State today, the way Edwards kicked our butt on the glass. That, to me, is as big a key as anything else, just our ability to rebound the ball and not allow them extra possessions.

Q. Coach, Devonte, Perry and Frank were all in with about 3:00 left and up 20. Can you just discuss the risk-reward of wanting to make sure that guys stay on track for the tournament but the risk —
COACH SELF: It’s not a risk. Jamari was tired and we weren’t going to play Cheick and no reason to but a stiff Landen back in. We were just trying to buy a couple of minutes. Frank and Devonte’ can play all day long, so…

Q. Bill, you’ve always been real frank about how good you think your teams are. I know the last time I saw you, it’s been three weeks ago, you were winning, but I don’t think you were feeling it was a great, great team. Have you changed a little bit? You hadn’t lost since then.
COACH SELF: Well, I think that we’ve — I think when we play well, we look really good. I think that the problem with us is we can go from — and I even had officials say this to us, to me. They say, hey, we call all over the country and when you’re on, you’re as good as anybody, but when you are off, there’s a big fall.

I think inconsistency is something that we haven’t been very good at, at least within the same game, or maybe within the same half. So I do like our team a lot. I think that when we’re good, we can certainly look really, really good.

But the thing that bothers me, there’s still some things that hurts us and can expose us that you can’t pencil in that we will be a great rebounding team or we can really guard the ball. There are some things that teams have taken advantage of against us, and sometimes you just kind of hope that those things don’t happen, as opposed to knowing going in that there’s no way that can happen.

Q. Coach, on another development in the last 24 hours, Clyde Lovellette. You’ve seen a lot of great scorers, but nobody since him has been a leading scorer and been an NCAA champion. Does that amaze you in some ways?
COACH SELF: You said country’s leading scorer, yeah. I had the opportunity to speak with Clyde, I believe it was Friday, he and his daughter. You know, of course, I didn’t see him play and all these things. But, you know, at one time you can review it as the two best big men in the world. And certainly it’s a loss. But when you really break it down, you think about, you know, Olympic champion, national champion, leading scorer in the country, a great pro, and probably did as much as a pioneer in the game to create interest and things like that as just about anybody else did. So it’s certainly a loss, but I hope all Kansas fans look back and appreciate the significance in what he’s done for not only himself, his family, but also for our school.

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